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I originally got this game for my nephew to play, obviously with the intention of me having a go on it as well. He is an avid fan of Ice Age and Ice Age 2 and whilst most games based on feature length animations or films do not generally live up to the hype and the anticipation (you always think that the game is going to be so much better than it actually turns out to be) there are some that have not been a disappointment and I was hoping that Ice Age 2 The Melt Down was going to be one of them. ****Story line**** This game follows the feature length animation of Ice Age 2 The Meltdown whereby Manfred ("Manny" the woolly mammoth), Sid (the ground sloth) and Diego (the sabre toothed tiger) live in a valley surrounded by extremely high walls of ice. The trio discovers that the ice wall is holding back a large expanse of water and now the ice age is over the walls are melting and the water could flood the valley and drown all the residents. The trio decides to travel through the valley, warn the residents and advise them to move so not to get caught out by the inevitable flood. The problem is the trio have 3 days. Playing each member of the trio the objective is to go and collect the 600 residents of the valley. ****Characters**** During each level you play each of the three characters as each has its own unique skill that is required to progress through the game. The characters are: i) Manny - Who has the ability to move heavy objects, knock down tree trunks and bash down stalagmites and other blocks of ice. ii) Diego - Who has the ability to jump over caverns and other gaps iii) Sid - Who has the ability to get through small gaps, set fire to flammable objects and walk along thin ledges Players can only change their on-screen character by touching an icon representing the mammoth, sloth or sabre tooth tiger. ****Graphics**** The 3 dimensional graphics are very good and really sharp and crisp. The characters are really detailed and look like they do in the animation. Due to the lack of action, dull scenery (it is all snow, ice and icy rivers after all) the characters are the focal point of the game and should be good, especially since the DS has very good processing capabilities. ****Audio**** The sound is not brilliant and is limited, although it is acceptable and compliments the graphics and the genre of this game. ****Controls and game play**** The characters can be controlled using the touch screen and stylus or the directional pad and the A, B, X and Y buttons. The decision is totally up to the individual. I found the touch screen and stylus combination to be slow, cumbersome and unresponsive. This was not good especially since the levels are time pressured and it is important to ensure that the characters move quickly and accurately to complete the levels. Each single level involves looking for a single collectible that opens up the next level. Your path is shown by golden acorns, which are collectible themselves so once you touch them your 'guiding light' disappears. As well as looking for the single item you need to release all other animals you come across. If you don't find the single collectible before the time's up, the level ends, the game records the high score and you then have to repeat the level. It is possible to replenish the clock by collecting snowflakes but finding these are a mission in itself and I found that I got in the trap of trying to find the elusive snowflakes to increase the time rather than using the time I had wisely to look for the single collectible I was meant to be looking for. You'd think that having a line of golden acorns showing you where to go and the ability to replenish the clock this game would be easy. Wrong. I never completed a level on the first time of trying as the main problem is that you have to play all three characters throughout each level (since each has its own unique skill) and there is a lot of back tracking in order to swap between the characters which meant that the golden acorn trail was lost. This was made even worse by the fact that as you touched the golden acorns they disappeared. Another issue is the overhead camera angle. It is fixed and cannot be adjusted which is a huge problem. The inability to zoom in and out makes knowing where you have been and where you haven't been very difficult and the fact that you can't see much beyond on your on screen character doesn't help matters. ****Mini games**** The addition of mini-games between the main game levels do make make this game a bit more playable even though there's nothing tremendously great or original going on in these mini challenges and touch-screen boss battles. ****Difficulty***** It seems pretty obvious to me that this game is aimed at the younger gamer although I do not think it is suitable for them. The game play is just too difficult and I cannot see how they would enjoy it. I originally got this game for my nephew and whilst he enjoyed the opening sequence of all the characters and the training session (he could easily manage that) as soon as he hit the first level he encountered many stumbling blocks and soon got bored as he found it way too difficult. I can imagine many parents purchased this game for their children and it turned out to be a big disappointment and a waste of money. ****Multi player**** This is a single player game with no multi player options. ****Price & availability**** If you want to buy this game it is available from many online and offline retailers although I would advise against it at first and recommend renting a copy to see if you think that it is actually worth buying. Personally I do not think that it is. At the time of writing this game is available for £8.99 (with free P&P) from Ebay, £13.99 (excluding P&P) from SoftUkLtd and £16.99 (excluding P&P) from Time2scale. Since it can be bought for under a tenner it really is a bargain bucket priced game that demonstrates it didn't quite reach the imagination of the gaming public, and I can see why. ****Conclusion**** This is one game I would not recommend. Whilst the graphics are really good, the story line follows that of the animation, the concept of using all three characters at different stages is fantastic (although not original) and the audio is acceptable the game play and the design lay out ruin this game. It is not an adventure game, it is a puzzle game and one where each level is going to be repeated many times over before it is solved. This repetition is too much for me and I quickly took the game back. I am glad I rented it instead of wasting a lot of money in buying it. The min games and boss levels are good fun but getting there can take a while due to having to complete other levels first. This could have been a great game but the producers have not capitalised on this and there are too many flaws.
They never thaw it coming! Their world is melting and your Ice Age pals need help escaping the biggest flash flood in prehistory. Swim, splash, scamper and scurry through all the action and adventure from the new Ice Age 2 movie and unearth fun, laughter and surprises along the way.