|Judging by this cut and paste artwork, we can tell the game will be high-quality.|
Ok there's a few things I want to complain about before I get into some of the weird things about this game. First of all, this game probably tricked many unsuspecting people into purchasing it, leading them to believe it would follow the hilarious plot of the first Shrek movie. This is not the case at all; the game shuns the plot of the film, opting to go with the “Merlin is evil, go stop him” route. Because of this we don't get any of the characters from the film besides Shrek and a very brief appearance of the Magic Mirror (supposedly Merlin has kidnapped Fiona, but we never see her, unless she's in the ending credits. I never bothered trying to beat the final boss so I don't know for sure). Words cannot express my disappointment at the absence of Donkey. Nothing says “I'm cheap and I don't give a damn” like not licensing everyone's favorite characters, and on top of that not providing a voice actor for Shrek. How can you make a Shrek game without at least hiring a Mike Myers sound-alike?
Now that we got through the rant, let's talk a little about this strange (and bad, very bad) game.
The Environment Art Style
Whereas the environments in the first Shrek film were clearly inspired by medieval times, the environments you encounter in the game look like they were rejected from the Nightmare Before Christmas.
Structures have crazy proportions, and everything is bump mapped so that Bill Gates could flip the bird to Sony by showing off his more powerful hardware. It's kind of interesting and kind of cringe-worthy as you wander around these areas. However you'll spend most of your time lost due to horrible level design. The art style in this game should have made the environments more enjoyable, but as a whole it somehow feels soul-less. Maybe it's because the areas are so sparsely populated? Maybe it's the crap soundtrack? Either way, when playing this game you get that weird feeling you only experience when playing budget games.
One of the things that made the Shrek films so enjoyable were the comedic re-creations of classic fairy tale characters (I can't help but laugh whenever the cross-dressing evil stepsister has a line of dialog). Fortunately we get a little of this in the Xbox game, with such classics as Humpty-Dumpty and Little Bo Peep. However the remaining characters/enemies are mostly uninspired, such as witches, skeletons, bats, court jesters, and many more things from Blandville. There are a few really weird character creations though, such as Gumby-like kids with slingshots:
|Shrek takes out his frustrations on half-assed character design.|
the candy monstrosity Frankendrop (who happens to also be a boxer), and the oddly funny disco-dancing cow that appears in a few of the levels. Something that I also found a little odd are the human characters. In the films they were portrayed as exaggerated but semi-realistic people, but the game tends to show them as dwarf-like with bland faces. Did the developers care at all about being true to the source material?
This ends my quick look at Shrek for the original Xbox. This is really one of those games that you have to play for yourself to experience how bad it is, along with how awkward the environments are. I feel like I should end this post with a Smashmouth song like the movie, but the game devs didn't bother to license their music either.