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Shrek: Extra Large

Developer: DICE (Digitial Illusions CE)
Publisher: TDK Mediactive
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Similar To: Super Mario Sunshine
Rating: Teen
Published: 11 :29 : 02
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman

Overall: 3.5 = Flawed


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Shrek was a surprise smash that featured Mike Myers as a lovable ogre and one-time funny-man Eddie Murphy as his donkey side-kick as they went on a voyage to save Princess Fiona, voiced by Cameron Diaz. While the movie was a warm-hearted comedy that was enjoyable to both kids and adults, the Xbox title released afterwards didn't live up to the movie's high values of both quality and comedy. Revamped for the GameCube, Shrek emerges yet again in Extra Large, and like its Xbox predecessor, it's a poor offering that will appeal only to the most forgiving gamer.

Gameplay: 3/10
As Shrek, gamers will have a world map to navigate as they make their way to various locations in their task of accomplishing fifty goals. Each world has a set number that can be achieved, and levels can be exited and visited later at the player's whim. This sort of freedom is welcome and it's a shame more titles don't allow for it; there really is nothing worse than being stuck on a difficult part and having the game deadlocked as there is no way to skip past it to finish off other tasks and return to the troublesome spot later. With the powers of kicking, belching, farting, and punching, Shrek can also light his gas on fire for some explosive results. The powers fit in well with his movie persona and are sure to give a chuckle to the younger gamers out there.

The levels, for the most part, also fit into the fairytale mythos so prevalent in the movie. A few worlds had some liberties taken in their creation, but it's understandable and they fit in well. The problem really comes from their design. In short: the levels are just poorly designed. There really isn't any other way to put it. Objectives will be stated, but the instructions on how to accomplish them are vague, and the levels have so many different platforms and ledges with such an incoherent design that a good deal of time will be wasted going up platforms that lead to nowhere. If there is a specific object to push, it easily gets lost by being either too small or just blending in with the environment; the same for passageways. The camera angle is also a problem as it doesn't allow complete freedom and will get stuck showing the action at a poor angle. The option to look up or down is also severely hampered; it seems as though the camera will move, but nothing more than what is already seen will be revealed, and considering how heavy the game is on jumping puzzles, that becomes a serious problem. Shrek also controls very loosely and mixing that in with a rigid and limited camera angle is a poor combination. The problems are aggravating for regular players, and the younger gamers will definitely be turned off and discouraged by the confusing levels and lack of clear instruction.

The strongest point to Extra Large is that the comedy from the movie is there, as slapsick happens throughout the levels themselves and also during the spoken cutscenes that progress the story and explain levels. The look of the game is on par as well, but everything is executed so poorly that it just wasn't an enjoyable title.

Graphics: 3/10
Choppy framerates and blocky characters are in ample supply within Extra Large. The framerate dip will also affect gameplay in certain jumping puzzles, as will certain anomalies; one section took place above a platform that, once jumped on, simply vanished, leaving Shrek to fall through every plane of the world, through all floors and ceilings, until he died by hitting the bottom.

There's no doubt that the overall look and design is befitting of the settings set forth by the movie. The various courses and characters are all in the same cartoonish vein, but the technical faults and general blandness, mainly due to a poor and limited palette, drags Shrek down to a very low level.

Sound: 6.5/10
There's nothing impressive within the soundtrack, which gets old quickly, but the tunes fit the various themes. The voice-overs are well done for the cutscenes, and provide much of the game's humor, but the characters' sound bytes are in short supply and repeated way too often. A shame the quips aren't as well done as the narrative portions.

Control: 4/10
Shrek controls very loosely for his weight and that can lead to problems when navigating through tight paths. He also turns fairly widely, even when doing an immediate 180, which also contributes to unneeded damage, or worse, deaths. Basic attacks, movement, and menu navigation are easy, but more involved attacks like lighting farts on fire to make explosions can be troublesome as they require quick timing and they're something younger gamers might find difficult. So, while the very basics are easy, everything else lacks a tightening polish which makes continuous play a chore.

Overall: 3.5/10
With several technical and design flaws that will irritate older and younger gamers, there really is no portion of the market that Shrek: Extra Large will appeal to. Only the most diehard fan will play long enough to enjoy the humor, but everyone else will stop long before they get a solid impression of how well it was brought into the game world. Everyone else will want to skip on ahead to greener pastures of Super Mario Sunshine and the like.

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Related Links: TDK Mediactive