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Here's a surprising fact: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is good. It's a genuinely fun game, and it's based off of a movie! What has the world come to? I mean, I'm thrown off here. I fully expected to sit down, turn my Wii on and be bombarded with bad design choices, repetitive gameplay and game breaking bugs. Instead, I was amused and entertained by the different levels and well thought out gameplay design.
There's also almost no repetition. How amazing is that? A lot of bigger, more well know games have got some repetition in, but in Ice Age there's almost none. Although you'll spend some of your time as Sid, who has fairly ordinary platforming skills, there are tons of other game modes to break it up. Whilst they're not exactly anything new for people who've played a lot of games, to have all these different level styles in one game really keeps the game fresh and interesting for the entire play-through. There's chasing, running away, platforming, side scrolling and aerial combat. Scrat's appearances have always been my favourite in the movies, and it's no exception here. To be suddenly thrown into Scrat's shoes as you chase a beguiling but treacherous lady squirrel was an excellent moment.
Is it wrong that I laughed more at this game than when I reviewed Monkey Island: Launch of the Screaming Narwhale? Sid drawing faces on the un-hatched eggs he finds and takes, and then telling them to ‘play nice' stands out as one of the funniest moments.
The game looks great. It sounds great. It plays great. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs looks almost as good as the movies, and there are scenes from the movie interspersed sparsely. The voice work is done by, as far as I can tell, the same cast as in the movies. I cannot stress this enough - it's a genuinely good game in its own right, but it also does justice to the movie. Normally, you'd have to be the world's biggest fan of a license if it was important to you that the voice-work in the game matched the movie. But here, even I'm interested, because it feels like Ice Age. I am playing the Ice Age movie. It looks almost like it, the controls are perfect, the game-play interesting and on top of all that, it actually sounds like I'm listening to the movie. Big movies like Ice Age 3 surely have huge budgets, but this is the first movie tie-in game that I've played that feels like some of that budget has made its way to the developers.
There are a few things to unlock by collecting tons of fruit and the crystals scattered around each level, but this has always puzzled me. This is, enjoyable as I found it, a kid's game. So why is there an option to unlock concept art, or sound tracks? What kid is interested in that? I could maybe understand if I was really interested in a subject, I might spend the time to collect enough of something to buy some concept art, but is this really a feature 9 year olds are pining for? It's not exactly a complaint, it's just that it appears in every movie tie in game and I can't see the point. Much as I enjoy Half Life 2, I wouldn't go collecting 100 gnomes to unlock some music or some concept art.
Much as I enjoy Half Life 2, I wouldn't go collecting 100 gnomes to unlock some music or some concept art.
Although it's obviously aimed at kids a little younger than me (16), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is still the best Wii game I've played in a long time. It's excellent, and I'd totally recommend it for anyone, especially if they like Ice Age. I hope that this heralds an end to rushed, awful games that still make money because of their association with this months hit kids film. Normally, the best praise I can give games associated with movies is that if you're a fan of the movie, you may be interested in the game. But not so with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, as it's an excellent game in its own right. Please pay attention all you game developers and big movie executives - this is how things should be done.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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