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Bee Movie Game

 

Bee Movie Game

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Adventure
 
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8
6.5
8
7
7.25
 
Author:

Developer – Beenox
Publisher - Activision

Features

Players: 1-2
60 KB to Save Game
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
In-Game Dolby Digital

To coincide with the release of the DreamWorks Animation film, Bee Movie Game comes buzzing onto the Xbox 360. Having played the Bee Movie Game demo which was released on Xbox Live couple of months ago I can honestly say I was looking forward to the movie, but certainly not the game. Far too often we play movie-based games which appeared rushed and unfinished and very rarely do we see movie-based game which knocks our socks off. To my surprise however Bee Movie Game for the Xbox 360 turned out to be not a bad game after all. Granted the game has some issues, nevertheless it is rich in content and will surely be a hit with the fans of the movie.

Graphics

As far as the graphics are concerned Bee Movie Game is, in many ways, on par with the movie itself. The developers did a wonderful job of not only re-creating the visuals depicted in the movie, but also expanding upon the Bee Movie world. Don’t get me wrong, the computer graphics in the movie are obviously superior to the Xbox 360 game, however the game’s visual do make a relatively smooth transition from big screen to game console.

Overall, I was impressed with the characters animations. Barry B. Benson looks exactly as he does on the big screen. You will also see some familiar characters in the Bee Movie Game such as Layton T Montgomery (John Goodman’s character) who looks just as good as he does on the big screen. The facial expressions and character movements really are well done and they truly caught my attention. From Barry’s shoes to his eyebrows, the detail that went into the characters is very impressive to say the least. Their movements are also very smooth and well animated as they move like any computer based animated movie character would. There are some frame rate issues at times when things get a little too chaotic and fast, but for the most part these issues are few and far between.

The missions ending cut scenes are also very slick and there is lots of entertainment value as some of the scenes had me chuckling quite a bit. I was impressed with the textures and the detail that went into these little min-movies. The environments found in the Bee Movie game are visually appealing as well. From the park picnic tables to the colourful flowers, the game features bright and vibrant colors. I was also very impressed with the raindrops as you attempt to avoid them. The detail that went into the raindrops and the entire raindrop effect is very solid. Keep in mind you do have to scale back your expectations somewhat as you can’t expect the detail you would see as if you were actually watching the movie. In fact, Bee Movie Game may very well disappoint those mature gamers who have played through some visually superior games such as Gears of War or Halo 3. The kids however will love it and overall this game did manage to meet all my expectations in the visuals department.

Sound

As far as the sound is concerned, Bee Movie Game is strong but not the best we have seen in recent months. On the positive side of things, it was such a nice treat to see the original actors produce the voices in the game. In fact, when I had first heard Jerry Seinfeld was doing the voice over work in the game I didn’t believe it. Many of us are familiar with the kind of salary a guy like Jerry Seinfeld would command so needless-to-say I was a little taken back by the fact he did the voice over work. In addition to Jerry Seinfeld other actors such as John Goodman and Patrick Warburton all provide the in-game voices for their characters. It not only adds to the authenticity of the game but it also adds to the gameplay as well. It must have cost a pretty penny to get them all to do the voices but it really pays off and was certainly appreciated by this writer. The in-game dialogue and humour is very effective. Lots of the scenes are quite funny and actually pick up where the movie left off. My five year old daughter also found herself laughing at some of the scenes in the game. 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, Bee Movie Game is solid but it is forgettable. It’s your typical fast paced action movie based soundtrack and much of it appears to be taken from the actual on-screen story. As for the rest of the sound effects, they are very strong and compliment the rest of the audio. The city sounds such as cars whipping by, police sirens, dogs barking and horns honking are all very effective. Overall I have no real concerns with the games total sound package.

Gameplay

Bee Movie Game starts off where the movie left off and builds upon it. As you would guess, you play as Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld’s character). Barry is fresh out of college and longing for something more than being another ‘cog in the wheel’. So he takes it upon himself to venture out into the world and ultimately embark upon a thrilling adventure to save the bee’s production of honey. This is basically the games premise without giving too much of the plot away.

Bee Movie Game takes that open environment concept we have seen in so many games of late. A big chunk of the game takes place in New Hive City. While in the city, Barry can hop into vehicles, fly around and/or search for honeycomb tokens. He can also do some side quests and mini-games. All these are geared towards kids and some are quite entertaining. For instance, you can do some of the race challenges where you drive in a variety of bee vehicles. The games are fun at first but become a little repetitive and dull after a period of time. The mini games are very reminiscent of some old school arcade classics such as Frogger and Space Invaders. Granted it’s a bit of copy cat move on the part of the developers, however the games are short, fun and don’t gobble up the majority of the gameplay time.

After some time in New Hive City, Barry ventures into the big bad world where the game takes a slightly different approach. For instance, Barry dodges countless threats on the streets of New York City as he battles waves of attacking wasps and dragonflies, protects hives under attack, and at one point he struggles to survive being stuck on a tennis ball during a tennis match. All in all the games are fun, however a number of the sequences feature context-sensitive button pressing. As you can likely tell from some of my other reviews, this is a pet peeve of mine. For instance, you will get to certain point in the game where you are forced to press a sequence of buttons as they are briefly displayed on the screen. It very much reminds me of Jericho for the Xbox 360 which I recently reviewed. It seems to be a trend these days and it is my opinion that it really takes you away from the games momentum. I don't mind it in small doses but for the most part I could do without it.

Another aspect about the game I really enjoyed was the use of the "Pollenator" gun. With this gun full of pollen ammunition you try to pollinate flowers and fend off attacks from dragonflies. Keep in mind you are vulnerable when tending to flowers, so there is some strategy to the game. Often you will have to avoid being surrounded by flying around the perimeter of the garden, taking on enemies as you go. I also quite enjoyed Barry's ability to go Matrix-like. The game calls it Barry's 'bee flexes'. For instance, when rain starts to pour from the sky Barry's life becomes endangered. By activating Barry's 'bee flexes' every rain drop slows down for Barry and he can zig-zag through the drops no problem. It's a very cool effect and actually had my daughter asking me if bee's do that in real life. The only unfortunate aspect of the bee flexes, it wears off and it refills only after a period of time.

The controls are pretty straightforward and it doesn't take long to get acquainted to the control scheme. There is an in-game tutorial which helps you with the use of your "Pollenator" gun. The tutorial was quite helpful. I did have some issue with the responsiveness of flying Barry through the traffic as often I would make a move to out of the way of a vehicle but the Barry would either fail to react quick enough on-screen or it was simply too difficult to gauge the distance of the object. This wasn’t major problem but more of an annoyance. My little one enjoyed controlling Barry but whenever she would encounter one of those contextual button mashing sequences, she would be turned off by the game and tell me it’s too hard. So in that sense, I question whether kids 5 and under would enjoy this game.

Bee Movie Game features over 15 levels which include various mini-games, side-quests, and a wide variety of content designed exclusively for the game. If you skip some of the mini-games or side quests it should not take you around 7 hours to complete depending on your skill level. Bee Movie Game also features a multiplayer component. You can challenge a friend in multi-player mini-games, such as racing hotrods in New Hive City or competing in an aerial chase through New York City. Additionally, you can experience many of the Generation Hex Arcade titles with a friend in two-player mode. Overall, the multiplayer mode is decent but lacks any kind of depth and offers little in the way of replay value.


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