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As a family, one of our favourite Playstation games is a Shrek 2 game that we have had for a few years now. The gameplay is fun and innovative, the graphics colourful and the humour very typical of the movie! It is a really good game and four of us can play it at the same time, which we really enjoy. With this in mind, we got really excited when the Shrek 4 game was released on DS. I expected something very similar to the Playstation game, that we could all play together on our DS consoles.
My first let down, therefore, when the game arrived from Amazon, was that this is a single player only game. I guess I should have checked this first, rather than presuming that it was a multiplayer game. When you play the game, it is easy to see why they chose to make it a single player game, as a lot of the gameplay involves strategy and puzzle solving, rather than running around beating up enemies (in a fun, cartoony way, of course!).
The game has two save slots, and a basic flaw on the start screen is that it is realy easy to accidentaly hit the "erase game" button and delete your progress in the game. My 5 year old, who cannot read very well has done this a couple of times, much to the anger of his older brother and sister! When the game starts, you have a short cutscene which features the characters from the movie. I don't know if the game uses the actual voices, I presume not, but they are really similar to the characters in the film. The cutscenes and storyline in the game deviate a little from the movie, and it is quite a shame that the ogre babies do not feature at all in the game, apart from in an artist mini game.
The levels in the game are very long, and you can't save halfway through a level, so you have to either complete it or quit it and lose your progress. I found the levels in the game quite depressing to look at, with muted colours and miserable flute music in the background that will leave you losing the will to live. The puzzle elements in the levels are quite fun, but may be to hard for kids under 8. One level particularly frustrated me. It was a logic puzzle in which you had to flip switches to raise coloured platforms in order to cross the floor. Every time I fell off, I had to start again, which really did my head in.
It took us about 3 days to complete the game, and I wouldn't be particularly bothered about going back and playing it again. It wasn't addictive at all, and gameplay felt like a chore. There was virtually no humour at all in the game, apart from the fact that you could dress Shrek in his swimming trunks, and I could have done with some light relief whilst playing this depressing game.
I quite enjoyed the mini games, which you can play seperately. One was a "pipe matching" style game, where you have to guide donkey to the waffles. There is also an "ogre artist" feature, where you can create scenes with the pictures, which will appeal to very young kids, and a feature where you can use the DSi camera to take a photo of yourself with ogre ears, though I felt this feature could have been expanded on, and it would have been nice to have the option to save the pictures.
I would not recommend this game to anyone, and do not know what the target market is for the game. Young kids wil find the logic puzzles to hard, and older kids will find the levels boring, lacking action, colour and fun. This could have been so much better, but unfortunately it just looks like it has been hacked together quickly in time for the movie, as all the levels look the same. I'm surprised Dreamworks endorsed this.