Publisher: Game Factory
Developer: Neko Entertainment
Release Date: November 16, 2007
Code Lyoko is a French animated series that follows a group of five boarding school students (Aelita, Jeremy, Odd, Ulrich and Yumi) as they do battle against a malevolent AI known as XANA. Be thankful that I shared that little tidbit of backstory with you, as the game doesn't bother to fill you in on any elements of the series' story. Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity is basically a retelling of the fourth season of the show, as the students must do everything they can to stop the rapidly spreading XANA and save their friend William from the evil AI's corruption. If you don't follow the show religiously, you may have a hard time understanding what's going on, and even if you are a fan, you still may struggle to keep up. Basically, if you pick up this game on a whim, know that you'll need to do a lot of research if you hope to have any idea of what's going on.
Upon starting, Code Lyoko dumps you in the courtyard of Kadic Academy, and this area serves as the hub for the rest of your quest. You can check out the unlockable goodies you've picked up through the course of your adventure, chat with other students, or head over to the factory, where Jeremy waits to give you your next mission. Once you choose to start a mission, Jeremy will brief you on what XANA is up to and then "virtualize" the team and send them into the digital world. Most missions consist of your team tracking down a tower that XANA is using to wreak havoc on the real world, shutting it down, and then tracking down and destroying the supercomputer from which the tower draws its power. The pace of the game is very episodic, and rather than one overarching story, it feels like you're just playing a series of independent missions that have only the most tenuous of threads holding them together. While loosely related serial episodes may work well in television, this model isn't really suited for video games.
Once you land in the digital world, you are given control of the whole team (minus Jeremy), and each character is granted a unique set of attacks and abilities. Ulrich uses dual swords for melee attacks, and he also has a Triplicate ability that allows him to clear boulders and perform more powerful attacks on his foes. In addition, he can use a supersonic ability to break through certain barriers that are otherwise impassible. Aelita attacks with energy fields and can fly to seemingly unreachable areas or use telekinesis to create bridges across lengthy gaps. Yumi locks onto enemies with razor-tipped fans, and she can levitate objects or cross very thin planks. Finally, Odd fires energy arrows and can slow time and climb walls. Each character is just different enough to keep things interesting, and the ability to change between characters on the fly prevents the game from getting stale.
The levels themselves are basic platformers, and there's really no innovation of which to speak. You follow a linear path and jump across bottomless chasms, fight hordes of non-descript baddies, push switches and deactivate barriers in order to reach your objective. Occasionally, this overly generic jump-and-shoot-a-thon is interrupted by some slightly more interesting vehicular combat levels. From time to time, you'll engage in a shooter segment in the "Digital Sea," which is just enough of a change of pace to inject some much-needed excitement into the title.
The level designs are incredibly bland, and if you ever see more than two colors at the same time then you should stop and take a picture. Each level is blocky and jagged, and character models offer very little detail. Show apologists will defend this design by pointing out that it is the same artistic style as the show. However, what works for television doesn't necessarily work in games, and Code Lyoko looks more like a GameCube title than a next-gen entry. Since the game offers so little in the way of details, you would at least hope that the engine would be able to keep up. Sadly, this is not the case, as the title suffers from terrible bouts of lag, specifically in the later levels. It becomes noticeable very quickly, and since it never really abates, all but the most patient gamers will likely grow frustrated.
The graphics are nothing special, and the sound won't likely make you sit up and take notice, either. While there is background music in all the levels, it is so quiet and boring that you probably won't even notice it. The title boasts the full roster of voice actors from the show, and that is either a blessing or a curse, depending on who you are. While show fans will likely revel in hearing all of the familiar actors reprising their roles, everyone else will quickly tire of listening to Odd's hyperactive, overcaffeinated lines or Yumi's tone that belies that no matter what you are doing, it is a waste of her precious time. Furthermore, there seems to be a problem with translation, as the written script and spoken dialogue don't ever seem to quite match up. I'm still wondering if I spent most of my time destroying "Supercomputers" or "Supercalculators," as the game could never seem to agree on the proper term.
One area in which Code Lyoko does shine is in the controls, as they manage to be both intuitive and simple. Character movement is controlled by the Nunchuk, while attacks are implemented by simply pointing your cursor at your foe and pressing B. Special abilities are executed by pressing the C button and then engaging in ability-specific waggling. From flapping the controller-like wings or playing connect-the-dots, the control scheme is truly one of the title's high points.
Ultimately, Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity stacks up as little more than a generic 3-D platformer that is attempting to cash in on a TV license. Fans of the show will likely relish the opportunity to relive one of their favorite series through the eyes of the protagonists, while everyone else will simply wonder what's going on and why one of the main characters is dressed like a cat. There are a few interesting gameplay elements, but unfortunately, they are lost in a sea of mediocrity and uninspired graphics and sound. This one is for the fanboys, and there is little here that can interest anyone else.
More articles about Code Lyoko: Quest for Infinity