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Madagascar Escape 2 Africa

 

Madagascar Escape 2 Africa

ESRB: Everyone 10+
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Platformer
 
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Author:

Developer – Toys for Bob
Publisher - Activision

Features

Players: 1-4
128KB to Save Game
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p

For the past month my daughter has been singing, “I like to move it move it, I like to move it move it, we like to move it move it”. This could only mean one thing: A new Madagascar animated movie was right around the corner and along with it, another movie based game. To coincide the with the release of the DreamWorks animated movie, Activision releases Madagascar Escape 2 Africa for the Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, PC, DS and Wii. I was fortunate enough to review the Xbox 360 version of the game. I know many of you have long since written-off movie based games as far too often they are rushed out the door and released to cash in on the movie’s success. Madagascar 2 is no different. That being said, fans of the movie and young gamers alike may enjoy some of the enjoyable moments and the variety that is offered up in Madagascar 2 for the Xbox 360.

Graphics

The day after Madagascar 2 was released on the big screen nationwide my mother took my daughter to see it. When they arrived back home both of them raved how good the movie was and my mom even commented on how good the movie looked. When it comes to computer animation looking good this is common place for DreamWorks movies. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the game. Don’t get me wrong, Madagascar 2 is not a bad looking game but it is certainly not the best we have seen from Activision’s movie based games of late.

First of all, someone forgot to put the high definition touches on the games opening logo. Yikes, it looks horrid and looks like a port from the PS2 version of the game. It is very noticeable when you first fire up the game and leaves you with a bad first impression.

In terms of the characters, Madagascar 2’s character animations look decent and all the characters are easily recognizable. Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo pretty much look as they do in the feature film. The facial expressions and character movements are also well done. My only concern is the lack of detail in each. The characters are not as sharp as they could. Games like Shrek the Third and Kung Fu Panda seem to look a little better in the character detail department. Casual and young gamers likely won’t have a problem with the details but mature gamers will likely notice.

In terms of the games environments they are average at best. We have seen similar landscapes, mountainous ranges, grassy areas and animated jungles a thousand times before. Frankly, nothing stands out in Madagascar 2 in this area. Some of the games cut-scenes are pretty slick looking but at times I found that there was a stark contrast between the look of the cut-scenes and in-game visuals. Madagascar 2 is a bright and colourful game but at the end of the day there nothing is incredibly jaw-dropping or innovative when it comes to the games visuals.

Sound

As far as the sound is concerned, Madagascar 2 is solid but yet again not the best we have seen in recent months. First the negative, I have to admit I was disappointed that the voice actors from the movie such as Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and David Schwimmer are nowhere to be heard in the game. This would have skyrocketed production costs however other recent Activision movie based games such as the Bee Movie Game have been able to secure the films main voiceover talent. Alex does not sound like Ben Stiller whatsoever. It is not that he sounds horrible; in fact the Stiller replacement does a decent job as do the other voice actors. Yet, not hearing the main actors from the movie somehow cheapens the experience and I could not help but think I was not getting the ‘real deal’ as it just did not seem authentic. In any event, the in-game dialogue and humour is very effective. Lots of the scenes are funny and will entertain audiences of all ages. Both my daughter and I got a kick out of King Julien. On a technical note it was also nice to see that the dialogue was not out of sync with the characters mouth movements.

As far as the soundtrack is concerned, Madagascar 2 is pretty much forgettable. So forgettable, I can’t even recall the majority of the tunes. The music is quite repetitive and loops over and over. On a more positive note, buried in the game in the tournament mode are a couple of little tunes in the Volcano Rave mini-game. These tunes are catchy and quite good in this dance and rhythm mini-game. Why this type of music is not used more often in the game leaves me puzzled.

I also had issues with the games varying volumes from cut-scene to in-game play. The cut-scenes were quite a bit quieter than the in-game action. It actually had me adjusting the volume on my remote on a frequent basis. I could not help but think a few more weeks in the sound room could have fixed this problem.

As for the rest of the in-game sound effects, they are very strong. The fighting sequences feature excellent battle sounds and the breakable objects shatter quite loudly. There are actually a couple of times throughout the game that my subwoofer actually shook the floor and rattled the pictures on the wall. Overall, the audio is average and I can’t help but feel there is still room for improvement.

Gameplay

Based on DreamWorks latest animated movie Madagascar Escape 2 Africa, the game’s storyline centers on Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria’s journey to help save the African savannah. You play as all your favorite characters at different points in the game. Unfortunately the game does not allow you to choose the characters whenever you want as each level is specific to each character. You must work through 12 different levels featuring a wide variety of adventures and mini-games. The story is irrelevant and loosely follows the film’s storyline but it works and overall Madagascar 2 is a fun game.

Madagascar 2 is primarily a mix of action and platform elements. The single player mode is at the heart of the game as there is no online multiplayer mode available. That being said, there is an enhanced multiplayer tournament mode which allows gamers to participate in outlandish competitions alongside or against friends and family. The tournament mode is one of the bigger highlights and the included mini-games were fun to play as I competed one-on-one with my daughter. The tournament mode includes the following games:

- Diving Event: Gloria sets sail off a wooden diving board to perform all sorts of crazy dives. Your score is tabulated by a panel of animal judges following the dive;

- Hot Durian: similar to hot potato where last man standing wins;

- Monkey Match: similar to a game of memory where you try to match cards;


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