Wallace & Gromit 1: Fright of the Bees Reviews

  • punkyliarpunkyliar216,843
    25 Oct 2010 26 Oct 2010
    9 0 2
    This is the first instalment of a four-part episodic point-and-click adventure, created by the same studio responsible for the latest outings of Sam & Max. This is a single-player adventure with no multiplayer modes. As a fan of both Wallace & Gromit and point-and-click adventures, this game seems ideal for me to review. If leaving negative feedback, please leave a reason why so that I can improve on this in future reviews.

    Characters

    Wallace is an inventor who is constantly involved in one hair-brained scheme after another. Usually his inventions have disastrous (and comical) side-effects. The one thing that fans of the pair will immediately notice is that Peter Sallis does not do the voice acting for Wallace. The replacement actor is not bad though, and you soon get used to the slightly different tone of voice. Gromit is Wallace’s long-suffering dog, whose only method of communication is through facial expressions. You control both of these characters at different points throughout the game, but you never control both at the same time.

    A cast of other wacky non-playable characters accompany the pair during their adventure - the old war veteran waiting for an invasion; a purple plant-loving, gardening neighbour; and the greengrocer whose shop was destroyed earlier in the week by Wallace’s latest invention. There are others but I won’t list them all. These characters all provide help or hindrance to the duo throughout the game.

    Controls

    The controls are simple; movement is controlled with the left joystick and you flick between the interactive objects with the right joystick. Press A to interact with objects, and X to bring up your inventory. B doesn’t serve much purpose apart from skipping cut scenes. The one really useful control that the tutorial doesn’t mention though is the Y button. Pressing this highlights all of the interactive objects in the area in which you are standing, and is useful for finding points of interest that you may have previously missed. A helpful addition is the ability to save your game at any time, just by going to the start menu and selecting the save option. The game does have an auto-save system, but this is a useful backup.

    Tutorial

    The tutorial introduces the controls of the game through a short act that doesn’t have any relevance to the main story. Gromit is playing chess with one of Wallace’s chess master, but the game comes to a standstill when one of the pieces gets broken. You have to find a suitable replacement. The tutorial is presented as if Wallace is talking to you through a video camera, and there is a mesh-like pattern across the screen throughout. Don’t worry; this is not present in the main story arc. When starting a new game, you can choose to completely ignore the tutorial if you wish, something which is very handy if you are playing through the game more than once.

    Main Story

    Wallace and Gromit are struggling financially. Everything depends on the success of their new honey-making venture ‘From Bee to You’. Matters are not helped when Wallace’s sniff-o-matic cheese detector goes haywire in the local greengrocer and causes a lot of damage. If the duo can deliver 50 gallons of honey to the greengrocer by that evening, Wallace’s business venture and the greengrocer’s crumpet festival will both be a success and the damage debt will be cancelled.

    The story takes place over four acts. In each act, several minor jobs have to be completed so that progress can be made in the greater quest. The playable area is small; there are three map areas for you to explore – Wallace’s house, the street outside and the town. There are several locations in each area where you will find non-playable characters, useful objects or contraptions to help you along on your quest. There are several easter eggs relating to the first three Wallace & Gromit short films, such as the presence of the Wrong Trousers. There is even an achievement for finding one particular easter egg from A Grand Day Out, their first adventure.

    The one positive thing about the story in this episode is that it is complete; there is a perfectly satisfying ending and no plot threads are left hanging. The second episode is hinted at during the end cutscene, but by no means does this feel like an incomplete game.

    Puzzles

    The puzzles do require some lateral thinking and there were some areas where I did get stuck. Sometimes the answers are not that obvious, and I got stuck. I admit that during my first playthrough I had no idea that the Y button could highlight all of the interactive objects, and this might have solved some of my issues. There is also a hint system that can be activated in the options menu. This ranges from hints being given out frequently, to hints only being given out on the rare occasion that you get stuck. Unfortunately I was too proud to fall back on this and I resorted to trial and error. I’d advise you use the hint system though; it’s a lot quicker.

    Achievements

    This is an easy 200/200. All of the achievements can be unlocked in a single playthrough, although I would recommend that you don’t do this. Unless you are incredibly lucky and just happen upon the perfect order to perform actions, it is unlikely that you will get this without the use of a walkthrough:
    Wallace & Gromit 1: Fright of the BeesGet CrackingThe Get Cracking achievement in Wallace & Gromit 1: Fright of the Bees worth 21 pointsHear Wallace say this phrase in four of its instances.

    In my opinion, to use a walkthrough to play through this game would remove any enjoyment that you would gain through exploring at your own pace and solving the puzzles yourself. There are a couple of other achievements that you may not be able to get either without having a thorough knowledge of the game.

    Unfortunately, you can’t select to replay individual acts; you have to start an entire new game. This is frustrating if the only achievement you need to finish is in Act 3. Progress is not stored for the ‘collectible’ style achievements either; being stung by bees on three different occasions, or the four instances of hearing Wallace say “cracking” have to be earned in a single playthrough.

    Length

    The acts vary in length. The first act is relatively short, but don’t be put off by this. Acts two and three are much longer, followed by a shorter action-packed final act. I’ve read a review that said it took them 40 minutes to play the first act. Going on that figure, I’d estimate the first playthrough would take 4 to 5 hours. I honestly can’t remember how long it took me to play through this the first time, but I did have to do it in two sittings of several hours each. For this amount of play time, I’m not sure that I would pay 800 MS points for the game (I got it while it was on sale at 400 MS points), and it is the reason that I have held off from buying the other three episodes. Once you have gained all of the achievements, you are unlikely to keep returning to the game without taking a lengthy break from it first.

    Overview

    This is a fun game to play but I’m not sure that it is worth the 800 MS points asking price. It is a typical Wallace & Gromit adventure, with the humour present that fans of the duo would come to expect. The controls are simple but the puzzles can be a little difficult. The hints system would alleviate this though. The achievements are fairly easy to unlock, but I would recommend two playthroughs to get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of the game whilst unlocking the achievements. Fans of the duo will not be disappointed, but the game is a bit short.
    4.0
    Showing both comments.
    Vr EnglishThanks for the review, I think you've convinced me that I'd like the game but better to wait for a sale.
    Posted by Vr English on 29 May 12 at 11:28
    FIVWPPJ3/5.
    F.I.V.W.P.P.S.
    Posted by FIVWPPJ on 26 Jul 12 at 19:12