Later this year, Shrek 2 will be released to cinemas and after a successful first film which has won many fans, it is highly anticipated. Considering we can't actually remember many games being made based on the original film, they can't have been too memorable. However fans of the franchise fear not because Activision and Dreamworks have teamed up to produce a game based on the second film and from our time with a preview version, it will contain everything people like about the Shrek franchise and more.
In not much of a surprise, Shrek 2: The Game is a platformer set in the locations from the film. Due to the fact the film has not been released yet, the build we played was restricted to the opening stages of the story, but even so we can't wait to play further into the title once the game is available. The storyline will follow the path of the film which basically revolves around Princess Fiona introducing her new husband Shrek to her father, the king of Far Far Away. Some new characters are introduced in the new film and these will feature in the game as well, however we only came across Puss in Boots in the levels available to us in the build.
Being a platformer you may expect a generic game but you may be surprised once the game ships as to how well the game actually plays. It is played from a third person perspective and the tasks seem to be taken straight from the film. For instance in one section, during the journey to Far Far away, the horse and onion are ambushed resulting in a wheel stolen. You as Shrek have to retrieve the wheel by belting the daylights out of some pesky bandits. However the game will contain some traditional platforming elements but lightens them up and makes them enjoyable with some trademark Shrek humor.
One such element is the way items are obtained. Throughout each level you will find coins which can be used to purchase spells and items from vending machines. These vending machines have an infectious jingle which plays whenever you approach them. The developers also appear to have taken scenes from the film and recreated them for the cut scenes in the actual game. One example of this currently appears in the films trailer. Donkey is annoying Fiona and Shrek by asking if they are there yet over and over again. This scene appears in the current build as a cut scene. Rather then just cut actual footage from the film and throw it in, they have actually built them with the engine which will no doubt give the game an even more authentic feel at ship. The storyline is presented via a storybook, which is how the first movie was introduced, and how the second film will most likely play out.
One of the greatest elements of the original Shrek film was the fact that both adults and kids can enjoy it and the same can be said from what we have seen of the Shrek 2 game. It is hard to judge the difficulty of the game at this stage having only been able to see around four levels. As mentioned before the game contains Shrek style humor and you get this right off the bat via Donkey introducing items and tasks to be performed in the game. Comments along the line of 'why is that hero bar (health item) just floating in mid air, its kinda freaking me out' will make you grin or chuckle and realise that the developers have really done their homework when writing the non-movie based script sequences for the game. Whilst playing through this build, we laughed many times at the different jokes on offer. This is one of the main reasons we can't wait to see more.
From what we have seen the characters will rely on their own skills to defeat enemies rather then weapons although exploding pumpkins were available to use in this build. In the build we played, we had the opportunity to play as Shrek and Donkey in different sections of the game and found them to be somewhat different in terms of attacks. Whilst the controls remained the same, Shrek seemed slower in attack then donkey but each have their own advantages.
The game has been built with the Unreal engine from Epic and like most other games using this engine the graphics are quite impressive. In terms of environments, due to the limited build we weren't able to see much but what we saw was heavily detailed and impressive. The Shrek, Donkey, Fiona and Puss in Boots character models look fairly accurate to what you can expect to see in the film and the environments will no doubt continue this trend. In terms of the sound effects, as mentioned before the humor flows thick and fast and this can be attributed to some very authentic voice acting from all characters and lines such as 'what in the name of all the kings horses'.
Shrek 2 is one of the most anticipated films of the year for both adults and children and once the game ships around the same time as the film's release, it may surprise some people. From what we have seen the game appears to be an authentic recreation of the Shrek universe but is also a game with high design values and the developers have taken into account every detail such as the humor of the film and continued it into the game. All of this should appeal to both fans of the franchise and casual PC gamers upon release sometime in June 2004.
Note: Screenshots from Playstation 2 version which is somewhat different to the PC title.