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Shrek the Third

 

Shrek the Third

ESRB: Everyone 10+
Platform: PSP
Category: Adventure
 
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Features

Players: 1
Memory Stick 384 KB
Wi-Fi Compatible (Ad Hoc) (1-2 Players)
Game Rating: E 10+(Everyone)

Approximately three weeks after the release of Shrek the Third on the Xbox 360, Wii and PS2; the big green Ogre and his friends arrive on the PSP. Based on the movie, Shrek the Third for the PSP takes us on a brand new journey through a mystical, fairy tale world. Shrek, Donkey, Fiona and Puss in Boots are all back along with some other surprise characters. Shrek the Third for the PSP marks the first time the franchise has been released on the PSP. Having reviewed the Xbox 360 version of the game I was very curious to see how the game made the transition from a next-generation console to a handheld gaming machine. Is the transition a successful one? In many ways it is; however at the end of the day Shrek the Third for the PSP is like sleeping with a supermodel: fun for awhile, but has little substance or depth to keep you interested over any extended period of time.

Graphics

As far as the visuals are concerned Shrek the Third for the PSP actually looks pretty good considering the limitations of the machine. A strong point of the PSP version is the cut scenes that help to tell the story. All in all I found them to present very well especially on the PSP's widescreen. I should note that they are a perfect length as well. Too many games have cut-scenes that seemingly go on and on but this is not the case in Shrek the Third. Overall, I was impressed with the textures and the detail that went into the scenes. It was nice to see that very little in this department was sacrificed in the transition from the consoles to the PSP version of this game.

Another aspect of the game which pleasantly surprised me was the levels and their environments. The environments within virtually all the single player levels look pretty good. One of the great aspects of the game is all the different environments you encounter as the developers take you from area filled with snow and ice to dark castles and lush forests. The levels are diverse and much appreciated as each of them are very detailed and well thought out. Granted there are some glitches like invisible walls and some 'jaggies' but these issues are minor and are not a regular occurrence and don't effect the on-screen visuals.

There is some noticeable negative to be found in the visuals of this game though. For instance, you simply don't get as much detail in Shrek the Third for the PSP as you do with the 360 version. Some would argue this is to be expected; nevertheless the characters are much smoother and crisper in the 360 version. Bottomline though, you and your kids will recognize all their lovable characters as they do look their big screen counterpart. Another concern is that the character's movements are somewhat robotic and there are some minor animation glitches visible during their actions on screen. The framerate also seems to take a hit now and then as the action becomes somewhat choppy. This only seems to occur when there is a lot of action occurring on the screen at once but it is definitely evident and somewhat of an eyesore. In terms of the Enemy AI, the characters certainly lack some polish and are a bit of disappointment as I found very little variety or differences between the majority of them. Many of the characters look the same and all move in the same manner as well.

Sound

As far as the sound is concerned, Shrek the Third for the PSP is average. Again, you have to scale back your expectations and accept the limitations of the PSP. You just won't get the same sound effects or depth as your would in 5.1 surround sound. As with the 360 version of the game, do not expect the original actors to voice the characters in game. Unfortunately the voices of Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and Cameron Diaz are not used. That being said the voice actors do a decent job. Shrek sounds good and had me fooled for some time as he certainly sounded like Mike Meyers. The game's dialogue is very strong and much of your typical Shrek humour is back in this PSP version of the game. The only concern in this area is some of the repetitive comments get old in a hurry.

In terms of the sounds effects Shrek the Third delivers. The fighting and combat sounds are all realistic and pack some punch (editors note - pun not intended). The walking sounds are very noticeable too and some of the noises of the environments (i.e. water and grass) sound good. Simplier sounds such as those of bashing a box or flying coins add to the action/platform gameplay experience and are all well done.

As far as the soundtrack is concerned, as with the 360 version, this is an area of strength. Much of the soundtrack appears to be taken directly from the movie and the soundtrack adds to the intensity and excitement of the game. It blends in very nicely with the on screen action and some of the tunes are very memorable as I found myself humming some of them well after extended time playing.

Gameplay

The biggest difference between the 360 version and the PSP version of Shrek the Third is that the mini games found on the home console version are virtually non-existent in the handheld version of the game with one exception. I will talk about this later on. Other than the mini game difference the single player story is exactly the same. Shrek the Third starts off just as the movie does as our friendly green ogre is now married to Fiona and he struggles to adapt to his new royal duties as the prince of Far Far Away and he is given more responsibility when Fiona’s father becomes gravely ill. The king wishes Shrek to take on the crown and lead the people of Far Far Away but Shrek is not thrilled with the idea and decides to embark on a journey to find Artie, Fiona’s cousin, as a possible heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Prince Charming gathers an army of villains as he plots to take over the entire kingdom. Shrek the Third's story is told through a series of chapter-based puppet shows that occur between key levels.

Throughout the game you not only play as Shrek, but you also have the opportunity to play as Puss-in-Boots, Donkey, Fiona, Artie and Sleeping Beauty. Unfortunately, you don't have the option of selecting your character as to have to play with the character you are assigned at the start of the level. Each character has unique special abilities too which adds a bit of variety to the gameplay. You will also find that there are about 20 levels in total for you to traverse through in your effort to save Far Far Away.

A good chunk of your time in the single player mode will be spent fighting hordes of enemies which spawn throughout the levels. You also spend a good deal of time collecting coins, ferry dust and other odds and sods such as maps or mugs. The controls are very simple for the PSP version and it won’t take you long to figure out how to bash opponents, use special moves, or jump. The advanced or special moves in the game are cool but most of your time will be spent button mashing through the levels. Each character has their own fighting style as well. For instance, Shrek just bashes everyone around sometimes picking them up by the scruff of their collar, slapping them around and giving them the boots. This is much different the Puss in Boots who slices enemies up with his sword and different then Fiona uses a Kung-Fu attack. The fighting style for each game character mirrors that of their big-screen counterpart to a certain extent. Another great aspect of the game is unlimited lives, which have become more common in recent years. If you should die in any particular level the game is quick to put you back in the spot where you perished so there is no re-starting levels or having to start at a checkpoint that may be separated too far from the next one. This aspect of the game is perfect for novice or younger gamers who fall off a ledge 20 plus times before they eventually make a successful leap. Overall, I have to admit I enjoy a lot of bashing and smashing and I did enjoy attempting to complete some of the challenges or collecting enough ferry dust to pull off special moves/attacks, but nevertheless the gameplay does become somewhat repetitive after awhile.

A sore point for the game is the lack of a cooperative multiplayer mode. Shrek the Third would have been so much more enjoyable if I could have whipped through the levels with a buddy via the wireless connection on the PSP. A co-op mode would have been great but unfortunately this is non-existent in any of the platforms, let alone the PSP. That being said Shrek the Third does offer a multiplayer mode in some sense in this portable version of the game. Earlier on in this review I mentioned that there are no mini-games however except for one exception. This exception is essentially a mini-game where you compete against a friend in an effort to be the first to destroy the other one's castle. Sadly, after about five launches of the creator this mode gets boring in a hurry.


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