The big green ogre we know as Shrek returns this summer with Shrek the Third, in theatres now. Not surprisingly, Shrek 3 the game is out across all major platforms. I’ve been playing the PC version for a while now, and I admit it’s better than I expected for a kid’s movie game, but at the same time it’s nothing to write home about.
Shrek Smash! … Ad nauseam
Shrek 3 on PC is a very simplistic button-mashing beat’em up. Not having seen the movie, I don’t know for certain that the story in the game matches what the movie has, but I would assume it does. For the most part, you play as Shrek, but you will also play as the other lead characters in the film including Donkey and Puss ‘n Boots. Regardless of which character you are, the premise is the same: follow a linear path, beat up and destroy anything in your path, collect various objects, and pull levers or complete a brief jumping puzzle to advance. It’s not that this formula can’t work; it’s been done before and with great success. The difference with Shrek 3 and the multitude of other games like it that don’t succeed as great games is, amongst other things, how straight-forward and lackluster they are.
Play Shrek 3 for about an hour, and you’ve experience just about all there is to the game. It never really develops beyond the first few minutes. It’s a very easy title too, so any experienced gamer shouldn’t have an issue blowing through missions if they can stay entertained that is. The gold coins you collect during play can be used to purchase various unlockables from the main menu including new outfits for Shrek. Additionally, God of War fans like me will get a smirk out of some of the similarities between the two; for example, in Shrek 3, there are chests and obstacles that you open or interact with by repeatedly pressing a button in rapid succession. The positive similarities end there, however.
Visually, Shrek 3 looks okay for the market it is trying to appeal too. Some decent texture, lighting, and color use make up the meat of the visuals, but the animations can be pretty jerky. Obviously don’t expect any high end visuals as this is intended to be a very casual PC game in terms of requirements to help attract the broadest audience. That said, the most impressive part of the visual presentation is actually the cutscenes, or well, some of them. Every now and again you will be presented with a nicely done puppet-show cutscene; in this cutscene, the story of the game is explained with what looks like a very plain 2D puppet show. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it was nicely done. In terms of audio, Shrek 3 does not, unfortunately, include the original voice actors from the movie, but the imitators do well enough. Considering the thin gameplay, the lack of the real voice actors didn’t bug me too much. The music and effects are decent too.
The best beat’em up games are multiplayer, supporting two to four players, but you won’t be able to do that with Shrek 3 on the PC or any other platform. It’s a single player campaign that I think only the younger gamers or big Shrek fans are going to have the patience and interest to play through. For most of us, Shrek 3 is a game that can safely be passed up in favor of much more inspired, satisfying, and all around better games.
Overall: 5.0 - Medicore