Shrek was a movie that seemingly came out of no where and became an overnight smash hit. It featured an ogre who had been living a quiet life until the plight of some fairytale characters made him encounter a king. With that much success Shrek 2 was seemingly a given and along with most movie blockbusters these days comes with it an interactive game. Shrek 2 is no different and while it doesn't subscribe to the 'movie game must mean bad game' script, its not a game without its problems.
Shrek 2 continues the story from the end of the first movie. Fiona and Shrek have married and Fiona's parents invite them to Far Far Away to meet what they hope is a handsome prince. Upon arrival her father is shocked to learn Shrek is an ogre and is determined to break them up with the help of some famous fairy tale characters. So Shrek sets off to find a happily ever after so he and Fiona can enjoy the rest of their life in peace but before the game concludes there will be many a twist in the tale.
Shrek 2 is an action game very much in the vein of older titles such as streets of rage and double dragon. You basically take command of some characters from the film and have to bash and crash your way through the level to the next part in the storyline. The game does feature some variety however with three distinct types of level present. The first style of level basically tasks you with the four characters to move through the level defeating enemies and solving puzzles. The other style of level allows you to choose your next task. For instance at Jack and Jills farm you have to help the three little pigs with various tasks such as growing a bean stalk. Not all the tasks have to be completed to move further into the story and other then not getting a 100% ranking, there isn't really a punishment for not doing so.
The third style of level is known as Hero Time. During these missions you only have control of one character as they become the hero of the day by rescuing princess Fiona or getting a key to unlock a prison. These start off relatively easy but once you progress towards the end of the game, they become much more challenging and may induce an anger session towards the Xbox controller. The style in which these presented in via the magic mirror is fantastic with the mirror giving a true game show style to the action.
Shrek 2 features twelve playable characters, but only four are present at any one time. As you progress through each mission you will find most of the time the four characters will be different from the last task. This keeps you interested in the game and also forces you to learn the traits of the different characters. Each have their strengths and weaknesses and learning these is important in terms of the many puzzles featured throughout the game. Sometimes you may feel stuck and then realise that one of the characters special tricks will help you progress further. The characters are all fairy tale characters and from the film such as Gingerbread Man, Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding hood etc but in true Shrek humor they don't follow their fairy tale conventions with an example such as Little Red apparently being a champion softball pitcher.
Shrek 2 is a game which really can't decide if its aimed at the adult or children's market and some critics may say this is in tune with the film franchise. There are parts of the game which hardcore gamers will blow through in a matter of minutes that would be a small challenge for children but there is also puzzle solving which would be near impossible for a child to solve without an adults help. The puzzles can be basic such as getting donkey to kick down a specially marked gate, through to Big Bad Wolf having to play on a windmill to help lower a platform. They may not sound hard but until you actually learn the unique traits of each character, chances are you will become stuck and looking for hints and tips which are available.
Another weakness of the game is the camera system. Sometimes it will let you move it and other times it will be fixed. This is determined by the camera icon on the screen. The problem is that most times you may need to move the camera but it will be locked. It's not all bad news for the camera because the fact its locked during boss fights is definitely a better use of the camera system employed. It's also not a very long game, and most gamers will be able to finish it in a solid days play with not much replay value other then the mini games which are unlocked to write home about.
Throughout the game you will visit many unique locations from Shrek's home to Far Far Away (we don't want to give to much away about the story and film). Each of the locations features some unique art, architecture and puzzles for players to tackle. Sometimes the puzzles will actually be part of the environment, but other times man made objects such as a fence.
In terms of graphics the game is very impressive with all the character models highly detailed and looking like they do in the film franchise. There's no frame rate drops to speak of and when the camera is controllable you can see just how much detail has gone into the game. Even though Activision and the developers did not get Eddie Murphy, Camroen Diaz etc for the voice acting, the people they have hired to do the job have done fantastically well and without a quick look at the credits its easy to mistake them for the actors from the film. The voice acting is where the Shrek humor comes across the most with most of the characters belting out classic one liners during the in-engine cut scenes.
Shrek 2 is really a typical movie licensed game. It allows you to play out scenes from the film while keeping a coherent storyline and removing some of the more boring sections of the film. However with that said, its not a bad game and any adult that picks it up will enjoy it, but its an especially great purchase for an adult buying the game for a child because despite the easy style of the game, it can be enjoyed by both adults and children.