Shrek: Forever After ReviewContents:
1. Introduction/ Context
4. Gameplay/ Controls
5. Sound (Voice acting and dialogue)
7. Replay Value
9. Conclusion/ Final verdict (Should you buy?)
10. Other recommendations1. Introduction / Context
Shrek: Forever After is a movie-licensed action adventure game based on the fourth and final film in the high grossing Shrek franchise. The game was developed by XPEC, a Taiwanese-based company responsible for the Japanese-exclusive Spectral Force 3: Innocent Rage and the PS2 and Wii ports of the successful Kung Fu Panda game adaptation. The game was released on the 18th of June 2010 with little to no competition, alongside International Cricket 2010 and DarkStar One: Broken Alliance. The game currently has an average of 62 on Metacritic and a respectable 67 percent on GameRankings. I think we all know that the game isn’t going to be outstanding, but does Shrek: Forever After at least forgo the flaws of most awful movie adaptations and present a game that is worth a few hours of your time and hard-earned money? Read on to find out.2. Story (4/10)
The story in Shrek: Forever After is fairly basic but in-keeping with the movie’s storyline. The lovable ogre Shrek is dissatisfied with the domestication of his home and property. Instead of being left alone in his peaceful and undisturbed swamp with his family like he wishes, the place has now become a tourist attraction, and his once all-powerful roar that used to send villagers and bandits alike fleeing in terror is now disregarded and even requested by the village folk, with crowds of families screaming out at him to “Do the roar!” Left in discontent at the loss of power and the peace and quiet that he once had, Shrek heedlessly signs a contract with the maniacal Rumpelstiltskin, transforming the world around him into a alternate reality controlled by Rumpelstiltskin’s empire which thrives on fear and oppression. All of his former friends do not remember him and in this reality his wife Fiona had never met him in the first place, and so, to undo the reality that he himself created, he must join the Ogre resistance led by his wife and work to simultaneously dismantle Rumpel’s empire and once again win over his ‘One True Love’, to revert the distorted domain that they currently occupy back to normal.
Beyond the introduction, the game simply has you visiting locations outlined in the Shrek universe and fighting either Rumpelstiltkin’s minions or other villains from previous Shrek movies/games, eventually ending with the ultimate showdown with Rumpelstiltkin himself. The game clocks in at a short but expected six hours, with the full 1000 Gamerscore (which I will cover later) taking between 10-15 hours.
To conclude, the story of the game doesn’t really stand out beyond the introduction but it serves as an adequate backdrop to visit the iconic locations present in the Shrek universe, such as the Dragon’s Keep, and to experience it’s simplistic yet solid romp through the new distorted world.3. Graphics (4/10)
The graphics in Shrek: Forever After are fairly weak and unimpressive, but they are passable and will not detract from the overall experience. The game features a fair amount of greens and browns in its colour palette, meaning that the locations can occasionally feel bland and lifeless. Thankfully, the in-game cut scenes are renderings of the film, giving the game an occasional burst of life above mediocrity due to the care and attention to detail that Dreamworks gave the original movie-based format during its development. These cutscenes are also unskippable so I guess they must have been really proud of cutting bits out of the film and passing it off as their own work. Character models are undetailed but the game doesn’t suffer from many of the negative graphical technicalities that plague other underdeveloped movie-based titles of this generation.
All in all, the graphics are what you would expect from a movie-game adaptation. The in-game engine utilised doesn’t attempt to flatter or impress the player in any way but at the same time the graphics are acceptable and won't be particularly taxing on the player.4. Gameplay / Controls (6/10)
The gameplay in Shrek: Forever After is your standard action brawler fare. The game allows you to play as four characters from the Shrek universe (Shrek, Fiona, Puss and Donkey), all of which are interchangeable and have their own unique abilities and effects, which can be used to defeat the sparse enemy variety of bandits, spiders and other generic and uninspired variants. In terms of the fighting controls, the A button is your standard attack, the B button is your special attack and the Y and RB buttons switch between the characters that you want to play as to complete specific puzzles, fight in combat if you have a particular preference or if you’re running low on health (which is extremely rare). Pulling off attacks against foes will also build up your ‘Ogre Meter’, which increases the amount of power-ups dropped by enemies for each section that is filled. These power-ups will multiply the amount of gold that you receive from each coin, increase your attack damage and restore your health, among other things. Gold, the game’s currency, which is dropped by enemies and retrieved from treasure chests, can be used to increase the effectiveness of power-ups, as well as supply the player with additional health and other bonuses. The game also has a main hub in the form of the Ogre camp, in which the player can go around talking to minor cast members, open ‘hidden’ treasure chests and purchase upgrades from Cookie’s store. There are occasional hitches in combat however, as poor camera angles, specifically in the arena stand-offs, can result in enemies appearing and attacking you off-screen.
The game also gives the player the opportunity to complete simplistic puzzles, usually in the form of block-pushing puzzles or using two of the character’s abilities in conjunction to progress in the level or to access treasure chests. The puzzles have clearly been designed with children in mind, as most puzzles will fail to provide gamers with taxing workouts in the same vein as many of the other puzzle-oriented games of this generation. Many of the game’s more ‘difficult’ puzzles even offer the player help in the form of the Three Blind Mice, who will provide you with hints on the current puzzle for gold, making the game even easier. These types of games, however, always seem to have at least one puzzle that should be easy but just ends up being aggravating to say the least. I remember spending over 15 embarrassing minutes trying to complete what should have been a basic block-pushing puzzle on one of the earlier levels, but I guess we’re all entitled to at least one of those situations every so often, right?
There are also three optional puzzle pieces with an achievement tied to each, which require you to induct an additional character into the game’s surprisingly robust 4-player ‘drop-in, drop-out’ co-operative function. The game also requires you to switch between the original timeline and the alternate reality timeline in order to progress through the level by using the Magic Mirror at set points. This allows players to see what specific areas were like before the world was plagued by Rumpel, which I thought was a nice touch.
This game also allows cheat codes to be enabled, but I’ve checked the instruction manual and scoured the Internet and there is no record of what to enter anywhere. Entering cheat codes apparently disables achievements on a specific save file anyway so I doubt anyone would have enabled them, as the game is extremely easy in it’s current state anyway.
To conclude, the gameplay mechanics of Shrek: Forever After work well, relying on a tried and true formula to deliver a solid gaming experience. The gameplay offers a good balance of puzzle solving and combat, ensuring that players won’t get sick of either as they play through the game’s 6-hour long campaign.5. Voice acting and dialogue (7/10)
The voice acting in Shrek: Forever After is great, for the most part, with all of the main characters reprising their roles as each respective character, resulting in a great extension of the movie’s near-flawless acting performances. Most voice actors deliver their lines with energy, and the return of Eddie Murphy as Donkey in particular will definitely result in a few laughs despite the game’s hit and miss dialogue. Enemy voiceovers however completely pale in comparison to the original cast of the movie, with enemies spouting incessant one-liners that anybody but children would find embarrassing to listen to.
The dialogue in Shrek: Forever After is polarised, with some lines providing a genuine chuckle whilst others can be head in hands awful. The game’s dialogue is respectable nonetheless, considering that the developers for this game are Taiwanese, and I’ve seen much worse dialogue come out of Asia than this (Warriors Orochi and Koei come to mind, ugh…).
Overall however, the game delivers in this department, doing well to recreate the multi-layered charm that the movie had to offer.6. Co-op
Shrek: Forever After also features a fluid, 4-player ‘drop-in, drop-out’ local co-operative function, in which each player controls an individual character to progress through the level. This would be great for parents who need something to keep all of their children occupied and it’s a nice feature but I doubt many people will utilise this feature to it’s full extent, as I can't imagine anybody calling their friends or colleagues around to play Shrek: Forever After in couch co-op.7. Replay Value (2/10)
Shrek: Forever After offers very little replay value barring achievements and returning for unopened treasure chests that you may have missed. The codes for the cheats feature are also nowhere to be found, squandering the minor increase in replay value that would have came from trying these out for a bit of fun. Simply put, Shrek: Forever After is a one-time only game that you won’t be returning to beyond 100% completion (unless you’re reviewing the game, that is).8. Achievements Achievement difficulty: 2/10
The achievements for Shrek: Forever After are what you would expect from a movie licensed title aimed at children. The entire list can be completed in 10-15 hours maximum, and it’s only that long because specific areas from earlier in the game need to be re-visited for the 100% completion achievements, as many sections across the game are cordoned off until later in the game when your party is fully equipped with all the upgrades necessary to break into these areas. The majority of the game’s achievements are story-based, and most of the combat-based achievements are almost unavoidable as they’re so easy. The only achievements that might give anybody a bit of trouble would be the 100% achievements, but all of the treasure chests and collectables needed to complete the requirements for these achievements are fairly easy to find and will be easy to mop up on your second run-through of each level. There is also an achievement for purchasing all items from the store, but you should have more than enough gold to buy everything if you’re going for the 100% achievements. There are, however, a few minor annoyances in the form of co-operative achievements that will require a second controller. Two of these achievements are for defeating an enemy and completing a battle in co-op, and the other three achievements are tied to 2-player co-operative puzzles that will also need to be completed for the 100% achievements.
To conclude, anybody should be able to 100% this game without a great deal of time or effort, as shown by the 62% completion rate, and the only real threat to achieving 1000 Gamerscore is the lack of a second controller, as the game cannot be maxed out without one. But overall however, a very easy completion.9. Conclusion / Final verdict
In conclusion, Shrek: Forever After is a surprisingly stellar game, for a movie-licensed title at least. The game is helped along immensely by the talents of the original voice actors from the movie, and the formulaic but fluid interchanging between puzzle and combat-oriented gameplay helps to keep the game fresh. The game is held back however by a weak and uninvolving backdrop of a story, limited graphics and almost non-existent replay value.
Continuously, we have seen movie-licensed games somehow squander their basic concepts with the likes of the terrible Iron Man series and the addition of unnecessary and occasionally mandatory Kinect-related functions, in a bid to save time and money and increase profits. Shrek: Forever After shows however, that average, simplistic and solid movie-licensed titles exist and still have a place in today’s market, and that not every movie-licensed game is a disaster of a game that insults the movie that spawned it.
The final score for Shrek: Forever After comes in at a solid 4/10.
The game is by no means a bad game, but it lacks the funding and originality that other games on the market sport that is needed for it to score any higher, and so Shrek: Forever After remains a shallow but enjoyable cash-in on the success of it’s movie counterpart.Should you buy?
Despite the positive nature of my review, I can only recommend this game to parents who are looking for a fun and recognisable title to purchase for their children, and to die-hard achievement hunters that will be surprised to play an easy 1000 Gamerscore movie-licensed title that isn’t of an atrociously poor quality, or if you're looking for a simple, relaxing game to pass the time. For everyone else, however, there are many other superior games on the market that you can invest your time in, so I’d give this game a pass.10. Other recommendationsIf you enjoyed Shrek: Forever After you may like:Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
A solid platforming title based around the movie’s characters (Manny, Sid, Diego and Buck). The game features surprisingly varied gameplay and polished character animations, which is very unusual for a movie-licensed title, although the game is too easy for the majority of gamers, and the game lacks an option to change difficulty levels. The game also features a few fairly average action shoot em’ up sections, as well as a total of eight additional mini-games.Kung Fu Panda (2008)
An above average movie tie-in game based around the adventures of the Kung Fu fanatic Po as he attempts to defeat the evil Tai Lung across thirteen levels and preserve tranquility in the Valley of Peace. The game displays visuals that have been said to capture the look and feel of the movie and dialogue that has been cited by many reviewers to be great. The game is marred however by repetitive gameplay and a short single-player campaign.Surf’s Up (2007)
A fun and enjoyable surfing title based around competing in the movie's Penguin World Surfing Championship. The game is a surfing simulation that revolves around competing in tournaments where the player must select one of ten unlockable surfers to complete a pre-determined set of objectives and race against other rival penguins for the highest score. The game features solid and fun gameplay but has been criticised for it’s complete disregard of the movie’s storyline and it’s lack of content.
Thanks for reading my Shrek: Forever After review. Please up-vote the review if you found it helpful. Positives and constructive criticism are welcomed in the comments, but bear in mind that I only spent a few hours on this review so it may not be as polished as some of my other reviews, as I wanted to keep it shorter than my normal reviews.My reviewing scale:
1 Star: 0 - 2.4.
2 Stars: 2.5 - 4.9.
3 Stars: 5 - 6.9.
4 Stars: 7 - 8.9.
5 Stars: 9 - 10.