Whenever one of the most famous books in the world is turned into a movie, it's not long before a game appears alongside it, especially from Disney. Narnia is one of the world's most famous children's books and CS Lewis classic continues to sell at a high level and enchant child minds around the world. With the big budget movie having just been released, the game is also now available and while it's not a must have title, it is one of the better movie games of the past year or so.
For those who haven't read the book or seen the film, Narnia is set in a fantasy world discovered by four children during the second world war while staying with a nutty professor. Most of the storyline revolves around the residents of Narnia and the hope they have held onto during the longest winter in history that four humans will come and rescue them and restore Narnia to its original state. This is where you step in as the four humans, Peter, Lucy, Susan and Brandon.
The game plays pretty much as expected. It is an adventure/action game with a few RPG elements thrown in to mix things up. At any point you can take control of any of the characters to progress further and they all have individual traits which you will need to exploit to solve the many puzzles found throughout the game. At the base level the game really centers on running around and killing enemies, but it's the storyline and the way it's presented which makes it worthwhile playing this game.
One of the unique features not seen in the movie is the ability to team two characters up with various results. For instance, Susan can hop on Peter's back while firing arrows, and Peter can throw Lucy through ice (and we thought this was a kids game?). To enable this ability, tokens have to be picked up. The game at times can seem like a collect-athon, but we can assure you that on the final level you will be thanking yourself for taking the time, as your collection size has a huge bearing on whether you will be able to finish the game, or have to go back a few levels to do some repetitive missions.
The transition from film to game has been done well but unfortunately if you've seen the film you will know the entire story of the game, but that is to be expected. Seeing the film actually helps you with the game as well. There was one point where we came across an object and it was not explained how to use it or what to do with it. The only reason we knew what we had to do was based on the fact we'd seen the exact scene in the film already. This is a mark against the game and demonstrates the poor user instructions which plague some areas of the storyline.
Another problem is the game is the repetitiveness of it. When progressing through the story it's not that apparent, but the boss fights are just wave after wave of enemies and it feels as if the developers wanted to prolong the game, rather than offer a fair challenge. Considering the attention span of most children, plus the target market of this title, this really is unacceptable and we found ourselves wanting to switch off rather than continue to the end of the fights. Also the game is rather short and five or so hours should be long enough for most seasoned gamers to push through the title.
What the developers have done really well is capture the feel of the movie and book. The enemies look just like the movie counterparts, as do the playable characters and main NPC's and the storyline includes some of the more humorous moments from the film. The land of Narnia is where most of the action takes place, with only the first two levels including non-Narnia sections. We are a little disappointed that the universe of Narnia was not realized as much as it could have been with the levels feeling very linear but there is some bonus levels on offer for those who complete certain percentages of the game.
Visually the game is quite well done but unfortunately it does suffer a graphical hit during the larger levels and those which require many characters on screen. The players have been modeled on the real world actors and actresses, and they have also lent their voice talent to the game which gives a high level of authenticity. One thing which did get annoying was the fixed camera (although you can turn it 360 degrees) keeps changing perspective during gameplay. This is obviously to give it a cinematic feel and while it does do that, the result is not worth the annoyance. The lack of multiplayer is also one of the unexplained mysteries of this game.
The Chronicles of Narnia does have its problems but it also succeeds bringing the movie across to a fairly decent and playable game. Fans of the movie will like it and for those wanting a game they can share with kids or younger siblings, then Narnia is one of the better choices around.