Trilogies are all the fad now. While they’re nothing new, we’re seeing a concerted effort to make one story into three parts in franchises like The Matrix, the X-men, Spider-Man, and Lord of the Rings. They have all come out of the woodwork in the past 8-9 years. Well, in my mind, Shrek has outdone them all in terms of movies. In the sum of its parts, Shrek seems to have put the most thought into the stories for the most effective concept. All the Shrek movies so far have entertained me to the fullest. I cannot say that about all of the others; especially you, Matrix Revolutions! Ok, there will probably be a fourth movie too, but you didn’t see that stop Bruce Willis who still refuses to Die Hard.
Well of course the other inevitability via Hollywood is the game tie-in. Shrek the Third trots out our favorite Ogre who is now heir to the throne. Far Far away being run by an Ogre, you ask astonishedly. Yes, but reluctantly! Not only is the anti-social monstrosity not really wanting to run the show, but his Arch-enemy, Prince Charming, isn’t exactly pleased with what happened and plans revenge. Let the games begin!
As we’ve come to know, the Wii isn’t the top-billed console when it comes to graphics. However, they’ve made it work with this one. The credits and storyline are featured in a Ye-Olde-puppet-show of sorts. Antique billboards scroll along creaking pulley-systems with a weathered look that lends itself to the Wii’s rough pixel size. There’s a nifty little power that slows time down and gives you a true sense of the detail put into the characters receiving your kicks and punches. The colors are vibrant, and the characters are pretty well done but we have to qualify that with “for the Wii.”
Van Gogh’s paintings show a lof of texture and people like his work. So too in Shrek the Third, there are jagged edges. Sometimes the screen gets a kind of soap-opera haze to it. It is simple, when you have an older Elizabeth Taylor on the screen, you have to hide some of the details. You just simply cannot do more with the medium you have in this case. At least there were no glitches or truly horrid anomales. The camera was usually in the right place, and there no distractions like pop-up, torn planes, or jittery shadows. Ultimately, it’s a story about an Ogre and a donkey so it isn’t supposed to be super-realistic, and that can be a work of art to some. Not me, but I can appreciate the effort.
The sounds are not bad at all. The background music is present without being overbearing. I barely noticed it at all, really. The sound effects from you pummeling those-that-would-deter-you are about what you expect from a
cartoon animated feature. The smashing of wooden gates doesn’t have that wretched splintering sound you get out of an action movie, but the clean crack is obviously wood and gets its point across.
The voice acting is good as well. There was more than one occasion where I wasn’t really sure if it was Eddie Murphy’s voice playing the donkey. It wasn’t, but it was pretty close. Some of these may have been pulled from the movie, but they weren’t annoying or overly repetitive. I’m pretty sure the voice of Shrek, in the game, isn’t actually Mr. Myers, but he is a reasonable facsimile thereof. John Cleese cannot be copied, and it is apparent that he delivers his own line but it may be cut from the movie as well. It’s all effective in brevity, and works well with the game.
Those wonderous wireless Wiimotes do it again. Much like Zelda Twilight Princess and Wii Sports‘ boxing, you use your fists in real life as you do the game. Movement is largely controlled via the Thumbstick of the nunchuk, but when it comes to battle both hands are flying to sock-it-to-‘em. You can mitigate a certain amount of damage holding down the B trigger, and unleash special moves via the C button when you’ve dazed an opponent. These are usually quite funny and somewhat random.
When I wasn’t on my feet warding off droves of bad guys, I was able to sit back on the couch and navigate the maze. So the control was pretty sharp and I didn’t have to be standing over the TV to get them to respond. I never worried about where my cursor was, and was able to get things accomplished based on my ability, or lack thereof, without the controls adding layers of frustration.
The gameplay itself is fairly linear, but it is entertaining. Follow the path, destroy anything that moves, a few items that don’t, and collect coins, mugs, crowns, gems and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. There are a couple puzzles, but these are basically just a matter of pulling a lever in one room to open a nearby gate to get to the next one. There’s a couple of challenges that required well-timed jumping that were tricky, but level of difficulty is not real high. The story is for young kids, 10 and older, so it’s not all about reflexes or deep introspection. I had fun playing it, and even more fun watching my kids play it.
As you defeat your enemies you gather fairy dust. Or was it pixie dust? Whatever, the shiny blue things. These act as a sort of manna which allows you to charge up a very special move. There’s the Ogre’s strength, Puss-in-boots draws upon his feline charm, Sleeping Beauty makes the men swoon before her, Fiona’s famous flying kick, and more are there for you to use in your struggles.If you’ve played through the game a few times, there’s still more to do. There are 6 mini-games for 1 or 2 players each. Play Shrekle-board on the deck of a pirate ship, or practice your jumping across a dangerous dungeon, or take aim at the shooting gallery. They are fun, and get quite competitve. Just make sure you have those wrist-straps on because you may be tempted to throw things after a while.