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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs


Every single time a kidís movie comes out lately it seems that thereís some kind of game attached to it. Actually, scratch that. These movie-to-game endeavors have been coming out basically since gaming began. Because of that it makes it especially frustrating that most of them simply havenít evolved. Sure the graphics are prettier, and yes the concepts are up to industry standards most of the time, but how many have truly stood out and broke free of expectations and preconceptions? Unfortunately that number is much smaller than youíd think and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is not a title thatís on that very short list.

As youíd expect this Ice Age title is aimed towards kids who loved the movie. It follows the story of the film somewhat and haphazardly fits into what was seen of the movieís plot. If you havenít seen the movie yet youíre going to be lost trying to follow whatís going on in the game since itís mostly bits that take place in between the real story. Then again I suppose it doesnít really matter because the only audience for this title is the aforementioned child who canít get enough Ice Age.

Gameplay

In Ice Age it should be no surprise that you slip into the paws and claws of the filmís stars. Scrat, Buck, Manny, and Sid are all here and as youíd expect, each of them offers up one different gameplay variety or another. As you play through the game youíll find yourself in control of one character on one stage, and another the next. This shifting character dynamic helps to stifle the sense of repetitiveness for a while, but the balance between gameplay types isnít as solid as one would like.

Each character has a set of stages that are specific to their abilities and what they can do. You can expect to run through some side-scrolling bits, platforming, stages where you have to roll things around, and some shooting levels as well. The degree of success with which these are all pulled off varies greatly and Iím sure youíre going to walk away from this game having one favorite or another. I personally enjoyed the shooting and platform stages, but found the other levels in the game to be kind of droll. Even then the repetitive nature of each gameplay type didnít sit well with me or keep me interested. Then again, this game isnít aimed toward adults. Itís directed toward kids with short attention spans who donít mind mashing on two buttons for a few hours.

Despite the fact that this game is designed with children in mind, itís hard to excuse the fact that itís just so darn simple. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs takes virtually no skill to play and you do not need to have any ability other than holding a controller and hitting buttons. You really have to try hard to die and the whole thing can be breezed through in a matter of just a little over two hours. Imagine the simplicity of each mode offered when youíre given less than thirty minutes to play with each.

Now, as youíd expect there are some things that help broaden the play time of the title and itís only the single player one-time-through that will take you that brief amount of time to beat. Thereís a plethora of things to collect from fruit to crystals and there are upgrades to purchase to make the game even simpler. Kids love collecting things, right? After all itís what usually keeps them busy with titles such as this. There are also some challenge modes that will extend their play time beyond the single player experience as well.

Now, I must admit that I was relatively surprised by the multiplayer modes that were included here. While thereís nothing too outstanding in particular, the fact that there are eight modes, each with variants really stretches the experience. Add to that the ability for two to four people can play and you have a game that offers some decent family time with the kids. Thereís nothing entirely robust here, but the variety is enough to be appreciated and it stretches this title to last for a week or so. Because of that Iíd say Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a solid rental for kids who love the movie franchise, but beyond that thereís not much of an audience for it.

Graphics

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is bright and simplistic looking with character models that represent their thematic counterparts. Itís easy to identify who is who and the various stages fit the movieís mold quite well. Unfortunately the textures are muddied, the animation isnít the best, and all around the game just has a budget, last-generation look to it. This title is by no means a graphical powerhouse and it is about as basic looking as you can get for a 360 title. Again, this is something that shouldnít come as much of a surprise. A movie-to-game project is typically something that is by the numbers, and thatís what weíve got here.

Sound

Likewise the sound in Ice Age isnít anything to write home about. With some voices from the actual actors of the film being mixed with cheesy impressions of the others the quality is quite a mixed bag. The music is more or less whimsical and pulled from the film, though thereís little to write home about, and the sound effects are passable at best. Itís a kidís game and one based on a movie, so you get what youíd expect!

Conclusion

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a straight-forward childrenís release that doesnít push the envelope in any way. Itís a by-the-numbers movie-to-game title that offers little in terms of surprise, virtually no challenge, and ultimately is a forgettable experience. The multiplayer modes and collectables will keep kids entertained longer than they should be, and because of that Iíd say this one at least deserves a rent if you have kids who loved the film. Just donít be surprised if you see them playing something else after a couple of hours.