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PC Review - 'Shrek The Third'

by Tim McCullough on June 2, 2007 @ 2:10 a.m. PDT

Shrek The Third will take players on an all-new adventure filled with fun and exciting new challenges, never-before-seen characters and environments, plus the same humor we've come to love from Shrek and the gang.

Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Amaze Entertainment/7 Studios
Release Date: May 15, 2007

Isn't strange how closely the movie industry is tied to the gaming industry? With today's frantic marketing paradigms, it is not only likely that you will find your favorite movie as a game even prior to the movie's theatrical release, but you will also find it available on multiple gaming platforms! A great case study for this situation is the marketing push for the Shrek franchise.

Shrek the Third is a 3D third-person adventure game in which you will play a variety of different characters from the "Shrek the Third" movie. Your task will involve battling numerous enemies through several levels while completing side-quests and solving puzzles; there is plenty of jumping, platforming, and elevators to test your coordination and reflexes. The game unfolds in a linear fashion roughly following the movie's original storyline, and entertaining cut scenes help to keep the adventure moving between levels. (To avoid spoiling the game and movie plots, this review will not go into detail about the goals and objectives.) Shrek the Third begins by providing in-game instructions on how to play, as you play, and you can adjust difficulty levels as appropriate for each player. The title comes on a single DVD-rom and includes a five-page reference manual.

In Shrek the Third, you are tasked with fighting your way past evil witches, gnomes, villagers, college students, pirates, and even dragons. You will frequently switch between key characters from the movie, each having different moves and special attacks or skills. This switching occurs automatically so you won't have to worry about which character should be used to solve any given area or puzzle. Besides the routine brawling, you will need to seek out hidden items to complete side-quests. Although they are not usually required to complete a given level, the side-quests allow you to accumulate additional gold coins at the end of each level, which you can then spend later at the gift shop. In between various levels, you are entertained with the main storyline presented in a delightful street theater format using paper/stick puppets.

In general, there is very little new in Shrek the Third compared to past Shrek adventure titles or any other of the myriad of third-person movie games based on the Havok 3D Engine. You will experience an occasional new mini-game while playing Shrek the Third, but they are too short, leaving you with an unsatisfied feeling. As you play, you will encounter various puzzles that will need to be solved in order to advance in the game. None of these puzzles will require too much brain power; I played the game on its middle difficulty setting and found the game to be a bit too easy. This is not necessarily a bad thing, considering the game is designed to target a younger audience. Also supporting the lower target demographic is the general lack of mature quips that you normally expect from a Shrek story.

In the event you do die on any given level in the game, you are automatically resurrected at the last save point, which is usually located at the beginning of the current level. One of the very few complaints that I have after spending quite a bit of time playing Shrek the Third is at times, I felt my field of view was too restricted by the game's camera system. Unlike similar titles where you are given a greater amount of control over your view, in Shrek the Third, you are limited to three preset zoom levels and no rotation or axis movement of your camera.

Controls are fairly easy to learn, although you will need to be familiar with some combination moves to complete several of the side-quest requirements. The control assignments remain consistent between the numerous characters you will be required to play throughout the course of the game. I used a gamepad while playing Shrek the Third, but it is also fairly easy to play the game using the keyboard/mouse combination. Shrek the Third automatically manages game saves throughout the game; it's important to remember this so you don't leave the game prior to reaching a save point.

The Shrek the Third Gift Shop provides you with the opportunity to spend some of the hard-earned coins you have collected throughout the game. In the gift shop, you will be able to buy different character outfits, pixie dust supply upgrades, attack power ups, multiplayer maps and behind-the-scenes commentaries of various game levels from your favorite characters. It is important to note that the gift shop requires you to stop a game in progress and return to the main menu, so make sure that you visit the shop prior to continuing a saved game or after you have reached a save point.

Shrek the Third includes a multiplayer mode, but before you get excited about the possibilities, it is not a multiplayer mode in the usual sense of the word. There is no LAN or Internet connectivity, but you can play mini-games against another person using the same local controller or keyboard by taking turns. When you play in this mode, you can play either for the highest score in a given amount of time, or by eliminating your opponent through destroying all of his towers. Personally, I feel it was a bit inappropriate to call this a multiplayer experience; I would have called it a one-on-one challenge mode, or something to that effect.

The in-game graphics in Shrek the Third are of the standard low-polygon 3D variety, although excellent texturing enhances their overall appearance. The game looks best on its highest settings, so you should have a reasonably up-to-date system and graphics card to get the most out of the experience. Text tends to get fuzzy and graphics appear jagged in lower resolutions; depending on your graphics card, you may experience the hazing or "blooming" effect, in which graphics are softened. You will need to disable this visual effect in your display control panel, since there are no switches for it in the game's options menu.

There is a considerable amount of voice acting here, all of which is just as corny as the voice performances in the "Shrek" movies. Sound effects are decent and appropriate for the various scenes and gameplay; you will hear a variety of music genres while playing Shrek the Third, including lighter period music and some hard rock riffs, which tend to fire up during some of the more challenging battles.

I enjoyed playing Shrek the Third because it is a fun, uncomplicated title that is accessible to action fans of all ages. It's a linear adventure, though, so don't expect a whole lot of replay value. If you don't wish to have the movie's plot or characters revealed, I suggest you wait on picking up this game until after you have seen "Shrek the Third" at the theater. If you would like to test-drive the game, a demo is available here on WorthPlaying.

Score: 7.5/10

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