Basing a video game on this witty movie, with its endearing characters and unique settings, would seem to be an easy recipe for creating a top-notch video game for youngsters. Unfortunately, Shrek 2, the console game for Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Gamecube, fails to deliver the humor and cleverness we have come to expect from this license. But, the game does have some unique aspects that may make it worth exploring. Here’s the scoop to help you make a decision.
Shrek 2 is a linear game with 11 levels, which roughly parallel the plot of the movie—Shrek and his wife, Princess Fiona, journey to the Land of Far, Far Away to meet Fiona’s less-than-welcoming parents. It is an action/adventure game full of typical platform gaming challenges, including collecting items, fighting a host of baddies, and solving puzzles.
There are two aspects to this otherwise routine game that keep it fresh. First, you play as a team of four characters, with the ability to switch constantly between the four. Since each character has special abilities, the game play requires figuring out which character should tackle a given challenge. For example, when faced with the task of collecting speedy fairies, players should become Princess Fiona because she has a "Matrix-type" special power of slowing down time. The player can always be Shrek, but the other three characters rotate depending on the level, enabling kids can play as Fiona, Puss in Boots, Donkey, the Gingerbread Man and others.
The other interesting aspect of this game is the ability to play cooperatively. At anytime in the game, additional players can join the fun by simply plugging in a controller and hitting the “start” button. Friends can go in and out of the game without affecting the linear progression of the story for the main player.
For parents looking to limit the amount of violence in their children’s media, this is an "E" rated game; but it still employs a lot of beat ‘em up action. Players karate-chop or punch cute-looking animals, peasants, rats, Merry Men, knights and a host of other "baddies." While the movie had very few fight scenes and lots of clever humor, the video game reverses that trend by providing lots of fight scenes and very little clever humor.
Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t mind having your kids play a video game in which they spend a lot of time beating up bad guys, this is a game that encourages kids to work together to figure out challenges. Once finished, kid-testers thought they would not play it again; so they suggested renting the game instead of buying it.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.