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Shrek Forever After

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: XPEC Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Action/ Platformer (3D)/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Returning to the small screen to coincide with its big screen run in theatres is another Shrek game, and this time we take a look at the Wii release of the game. Shrek Forever After has a mixed bag visually when it comes to this Wii version (where other versions definitely offer more visual appeal). For whatever reason, the developers over at Xpec decided to tease players with an outstanding pre-rendered cut-scene at the beginning of the game only to be drastically let down when control passes to the gamer's hands.

In-game visuals just feel extremely lackluster compared with the other versions of the game. While the player models are certainly appealing, the definition of the graphics just don't serve this movie game very well (and this comes from normally seeing/playing games in standard definition). There are even visual anomalies of flickering overlays that leave the game feeling a bit unpolished. Unfortunately, the cut-scenes present during the game only use the same tired visuals instead of the pre-rendered goodness which would have left the game bearable and given something to look forward to.

The audio is a welcome positive for Shrek Forever After. The voice acting actually hit me with a bit of shock when I realized that the actors famous for the Shrek series were not involved in the game... especially due to the high quality of the main characters' representations. There are a few sub-characters that could have done a bit better, but for the most part I was quite happy with the voice acting. The in-game music and sound fx were equally pleasing.


This time around, Shrek and his gang make the transition to the world of videogames by incorporating both hack-n-slash and adventure-puzzle elements in Shrek Forever After. While the basic gameplay does help appeal to more than one type of gamer, the reality is that the game feels a bit basic, boring, and too easy to appease most of those fans. In a long line of bad movie games, Shrek Forever After certainly doesn't hover in the bottom of the barrel, but don't expect it to be bobbing for air at the surface either.

Shrek Forever After allows up to four players to combine forces simultaneously, but also allows fewer players to quickly swap out the character that they control (from the four main characters: Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and Puss In Boots). Each character has his or her unique abilities that need to be combined to solve most of the puzzles in the game as you progress. An example early on has you picking up melons as Shrek, and then putting them onto a catapult. Donkey is then required to kick the catapult into position, and finally Puss launches the onslaught of flying fruit toward the target. Fiona also gets involved with her ability to light objects, including fuses, oil trails, or fires under cauldrons, all of which allow you to pass otherwise unreachable areas.

Throughout the game, you'll actually be transported between two worlds via the Magic Mirror. In one sense, you'll be navigating through the current world of Never Never Land, but there is also a dark side that changes paths and includes enemies that are set to stop Shrek and his friends from reaching their end goals. The puzzles that lie within are generally not all that difficult either, although it is possible to have to pause for a minute to rethink some of the block-moving puzzles.

In all, Shrek Forever After is a somewhat enjoyable game that could have been much more significant. The game feels like it was rushed out the door (often the case with movie games), but I would imagine fans of the movies will likely enjoy it more than some others. The four-player aspect is certainly appealing, but the same actions can be performed by a single player. The swapping of characters on the fly (popping in instead of being computer-controlled and along for the ride) makes solving puzzles a bit too easy. It should be noted that the game also locked up on my twice, on two different Wii consoles, when trying to pause the game... something so simple is an inexcusable bug that can potentially cost you progress.


As mentioned above, there are two main elements to Shrek Forever After: Puzzles and Fighting. The fighting is more of a hack-n-slash, button-mashing style, so it doesn't really require much in the way of thought. The Wii version does incorporate very simple controls and throws in a courteous waving of the Wii-mote for the characters' special move, but in general, the fighting off of enemies is way too simple and quite repetitive. As a single player, even if you manage to somehow not defeat the enemies that come at you with ease, you can simply switch between the four characters for immediate bonus health since they don't actually share a health meter.

As far as the puzzle elements of Shrek Forever After go, they too aren't all that difficult which makes me think the game may have been originally targeted toward a very young audience, despite the higher "Everyone 10+" rating. Admittedly, I found myself on occasion needing to take a second to think about how to move blocks around in a number slide-style puzzle situation, but they never were enough to truly trip me up.

Other puzzles were pretty basic as well, and if you ever really did need it, you could ask the Three Blind Mice for a hint, costing you a few coins. It is certainly nice to have this safe haven, but with three levels of hints, it's likely that you'll have to pay for one or two that you already solved before being able to buy the last hint to help you get through a difficult situation.

Game Mechanics:

The Wii version of Shrek Forever After has a very basic control scheme to say the least. At its heart, you'll essentially only use the (A) button to interact (or attack), the (B) button for a special move (used to "stun" opponents), the D-pad for switching between characters (when less than 4 players are in the game), and the ability to swing the Wii-mote side-to-side to perform a special move when available during the fighting sections of the game.

Unfortunately, Shrek Forever After does require the Nunchuk for moving your character, however, so hitting the stages with four players requires a bit of financial backing. One awesome element is that extra players can easily join or leave the game at any time. The multiplayer aspect of the game does also add a bit more enjoyment so that you are forced to use communication and teamwork, but as mentioned above, everything can be easily done on a single player level as well.

Shrek Forever After does have a bit of replay value, but it feels a bit forced in a way. One reason is that you can only access certain areas after earning more power, causing you to revisit areas of the map to get a full completion rating. Another reason is that some non-essential puzzle elements may require multiple players.

In all, I was quite disappointed with the overall gameplay and presentation elements of Shrek Forever After. Such a great series of films deserves a bit more support on the small screen, so I hope this doesn't turn into the final outing for videogames based on the series. Fans may want to give this one a rental because the game really isn't all that lengthy anyway, but it's hard to recommend anyone other than hardcore fans actually pick this one up on a whim.

-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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