With the summer’s biggest movies come the summer’s film-inspired video games. Are they hot or not? Here are three that you should know about.
When I first saw the Cars 2 game at a Disney event a few months ago, I thought, “It’s too familiar. It’s Mario Kart with Pixar characters.”
Disney for PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, DS
Replay Value: 8.0
Overall Score: 8.5
Pros: Very nice re-imagining of the Cars characters. Imaginative levels. Excellent controls.
Cons: Online play eventually asks you to pay. Can’t customize the Cars. Story could be better.
But when I play Cars 2, I see that it’s so much more. The experience is enjoyable beyond being inspired by Mario Kart.
A lot of this has to do with Pixar humor and attention to detail. While there’s not much story in Cars 2, the idea that you’re a spy agent of C.H.R.O.M.E. (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage) who races all over to save the world is a good one. And you’ll get a few hearty laughs as you move from level to level to complete your spy training.
Every car you choose from is balanced for a different speed and power. More than 20 cars have their own unique personalities. They each look different: even the eyes on the cars move and react. The cars say things that are funny; even more important, they say them at the right time during the race. If you’re hit by another car, Lightning McQueen will say, “Hey, watch the paint job!”
A fairly lengthy (but interesting) tutorial tells you how to leap in the air, drift and use weapons. During this learning experience, you’ll see how nicely the controls are tweaked. All this makes for a smoother race – even when others are showering you with bombs and you’re spinning out.
Cars 2 is made by the same people who developed Toy Story 3, a real gem of a game. While Cars 2 isn’t as complex because it doesn’t have an open world to roam around in, you can still see how much the game makers cared about the characters – and your game play experience as well.
Cars 2 connects to World of Cars online. That means you can play for free for a while. But if you upgrade your cars, you’ll be asked to pay money. It’s nice that Cars 2 connects online. But in this day and age, the game should have its own online play. You should not have to pay more cash to play.
Overall, though, this is a fine racing game, one that you’ll enjoy before and after seeing the Pixar movie.
KUNG FU PANDA 2
In Kung Fu Panda 2, you are the panda warrior. In the Kinect version – which I reviewed – without a controller, you kick, punch and block with your body in front of the controller. You vanquish all manner of cartoon beasts.
|KUNG FU PANDA 2
THQ for Kinect/Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS. Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older
Replay Value: 7.0
Overall Score: 7.0
Pros: Fun to do Kung Fu moves. A variety of things to do. Kinect is a great controller.
Cons: Game doesn’t seem finished. Characters’ lips don’t move in synch. Long load times.
First, you start with tutorials, which actually can be fun. The first time Po the Giant Panda moves when you move is pretty cool. You almost feel as if you have another identity.
But is there enough game inside to keep you going? I was surprised to see that Panda 2 isn’t a collection of mini games. There’s a story to it that mirrors the movie.
But there’s a problem. As you go from story to game play, there’s a lot of time spent waiting in between. And then there’s the time wasted waiting for the game to save. To play, then wait, then play, then wait is kind of jarring. So you sit there looking at a scene and realize the characters’ mouths don’t really move in time with the dialog. And sometimes the dialog is cut off as the scene ends.
Despite this, Panda 2 can be fun. Kicking and punching strange animals that act like humans gives you a good workout, too. Sometimes, you even get to call your other Kung Fu Panda pals to help you out.
And, for variety, you race in a rickshaw, which sometimes soars in the air off a platform.
But the game is really slowed down by the lack of great animation, the sluggish load times and the uneasy change from story scenes to gameplay. Overall, Kung Fu Panda 2 was a fine idea that suffers from not being quite polished enough. Rent it first to see if you want to own it.
TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON: STEALTH FORCE EDITION
Since the new Transformers movie is in 3D, I took a look at the 3D game version of the big mech summer blockbuster. And with the 3DS, you don’t have to wear glasses! You can’t say that about the movie.
|TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON: STEALTH FORCE EDITION
Activision for Wii, 3DS, DS. Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older.
Replay Value: 7.0
Overall Score: 6.5
Pros: 3D looks good. It’s kind of like a demolition derby. Uses various weapons.
Cons: 3D doesn’t appear in story scenes. Controls aren’t great. You can’t transform into a robot.
So it’s a slam dunk, right? Well, not exactly.
You’d think a movie story in which the main characters have to defeat big robots would be full of cool action and a thrilling story – and big robots.
But the story sequences aren’t in 3D. That really takes you out of the experience.
And you can’t even transform into one of those giant robots. You just have bigger, better weapons on your vehicle.
The game begins in a parched desert area. In a moment, you’re asked to infiltrate the Decepticon fortress base. But you first have to deal with other cars that are out to get you. In the 3D screen, you see directly ahead of you. It does display a lot of 3D-ness. On the bottom screen, you have radar.
As you play, you can move around and transform into Stealth Mode to shoot strong weapons at the many Decepticons that have their sights on you. But the Stealth Mode runs out quickly. When it runs out completely, you have to start the level over again.
Often, by the time an audio cue suggests that you drive over more icons of health, you’re a second away from failing the mission. Sometimes the audio cue gives you a little more time, but overall I think this voice from above is misplaced. It should give you a shout out much sooner.
Also, the difficulty ramps up too quickly. Partially, that’s because there are two different control modes, which is confusing. When you’re in Vehicle Mode, you drive forward and steer with the circle pad and shoot with the B button. But when you’re in Stealth Mode with those bigger weapons, you have to steer with the bumper buttons, drive forward with the circle pad and shoot with two other buttons. It’s annoying to make this switch constantly – especially when you’re always under attack.
Still, there are 18 cars from which to choose, and the battlefields look very good. The game makers’ original idea of making Transformers into a giant demolition derby is a fun idea.
It’s too bad that those amazing, giant robots aren’t in the game. And the controls make this harder than it should be. Definitely rent this before you buy.