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Publisher: THQ    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz

The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer
February 7, 2006 | Marcus Albers

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There are a number of locations where cooperation between the characters is a requirement of progressing. Early in the game, robots are firing flaming bolts at you. The game, using a very handy help-system, suggests that Frozone freeze the bolts in mid air, allowing Mr. Incredible to then pick them up and lob them back at the robots, destroying them. This is all fine and dandy when there are two humans behind the controls, but half the time, I found myself switching to Frozone to freeze the bolts, and then back to Mr. Incredible to pick them up and lob them before they disappeared. On the occasion that I could get Frozone in the path of the flaming bolts, he would successfully freeze the bolts, allowing me to concentrate on getting Mr. Incredible to lob them at the robots. This can be frustrating at best, and downright mind-numbing at worst. Battles between multiple enemies which should be two person affairs are often one-man brawls, with the other player jumping in only when the character is in the thick of things already. When both characters are battling together, it is truly a sight to behold, with Frozone freezing robots and Mr. Incredible coming in to lay the smack down on their ice-cubed bodies. It's just to bad that it happens so infrequently.

Unlike the first game, which had a more free-roving interface, Underminer uses third-person movement with no mouse-looking, making it feel as though the game is on rails. And, I suppose it is to a point. Progress through the levels is still up to you, and you have full up-down-left-right movement within the confines of the part of the level you are in. But progress happens only in the direction that the game takes you. This does allow for more concentration on beating the vacuum tubes out of robot after robot.

You will face some simple puzzles to solve in order to progress in certain areas. Mainly these consist of things like Frozone making an ice-bridge to cross a crevice, or Mr. Incredible knocking pillars over to destroy something out-of-reach. Markings near the position you need to do these things, as well a single-button approach to the controls for these special abilities, make it a fairly frustration-free exercise for young and old alike.

Unfortunately, these elements do not prevent the fact that the gameplay gets old after a while. The robot enemies are not varied enough, and you will come up against the same ones again and again throughout the game. While they are intermixed with some interesting sub-boss and boss characters, it's just not enough to truly hold your interest for more than a few levels.

While the art design of the levels is very cool, the actual level design leaves something to be desired. There just isn't enough variety in the underground environments. Once you've seen the first few sections, everything else seems to be derivative. Lots of crevices, lots of big rooms that house lots of robots, lots of small tunnels with robots making progress slow. It all seems a bit repetitive after a while.


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