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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G3 @ 500 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 800 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Shrek 2
November 11, 2004 | Michael Miller

Click to enlarge
Games based on movies tend to be a mixed bag. On the one hand, since their beginning usually comes from a desire to further squeeze profit from a franchise, the actual passion and ingenuity that goes into their creation is minimal. If it wasn't the creative spark that gave it life then the chances of that spark being present at all shrink dramatically.

On the other hand, there are some who realize they have been given a unique opportunity - using the already present resources of compelling storylines, characters, and settings to adapt into an exciting game.

Shrek 2 cleverly manages to do neither.

Installation is simple, and the system requirements are low enough to where virtually all Macs released in the past few years will be able to play the game without any problems. A hint of missed opportunities is given as soon as the introduction starts, since neither the text nor the voiceover are from the movie. It's a bit curious that a game based on the movie, obviously given permission to use franchise material, would skip on utilizing anything from the source material, but it's a choice that continues throughout the entire game. The voiceover work is done by different actors, with varying degrees of success. Thankfully, the beast that does the most talking also has the best acting - Donkey, while voiced by Mark Moseley, sounds nearly identical to Eddie Murphy from the movie, and many of the comments are made amusing strictly because of this. Shrek falls flat, with Puss in Boots falling in between. It's obviously not Antonio Banderas doing his voice, but the acting suits the character. The banter between him and Donkey regarding his boots is a game addition that managed to be excellent.

Most of the gameplay involved is demonstrated in the first level, which doubles as a tutorial. You have an attack button which will smash boxes, break down barriers, and most importantly, lay enemies flat. Pressing the button twice, or three times, will elicit different combos for extra damage.

Your other abilities include jumping and, depending on the character you play, climbing. Further spice is added in the form of potions you can buy throughout the game at various points using gold coins that you collect along the way. These potions can do anything from provide you with extra strength (massive clawed gloves in the case of Puss in Boots) to turning all your enemies into frogs. While diverting, an opportunity was missed in making it necessary to use the right potions in certain situations, and instead they are simply left there as a novelty. Albeit a fun one.

The storyline roughly follows that of the movie, and is really bare bones - intentionally so, judging from the jokes made in between level cut scenes where the narrator is cut short by Donkey. Evidently, the developers decided that you'd only be playing this game if you had already watched the movie, and eschewed any real story scenes for gameplay.

What this all translates to is that Shrek 2 is a platform game, a type of game that has been evolving ever since the days of the Nintendo console. Your goal is to traverse from one end of the level to the other, and you do this by navigating obstacles and defeating enemies that get in the way. That might seem like it would make for a generic and boring game experience, but that would be doing it an injustice.

The reason for this is that despite its shortcomings, Shrek 2 executes what it intends to be in a very elegant and simple way. The game designers obviously had fun in making it.


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