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Shrek Forever After review: Shrek Forever After

Shrek Forever After continues the trend of Shrek movie tie-in games that'll litter up the bargain bins for years to come. Its promises of family multiplayer fun fail to materialise, leaving this as yet another stinky movie tie-in game.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read

Unless you've been living under a slimy rock for the past decade, you'd be aware that Shrek is a big green ugly ogre. A big green ugly ogre whose video game exploits to date have been even uglier than his own visage. Shrek Forever After does utterly nothing to change the status quo. It's competently put together in the visual stakes, but the gameplay is more on the nose than Shrek's big green stinky feet.

5.3

Shrek Forever After

The Good

Follows the movie plot closely.

The Bad

Multiplayer support is clunky. Puzzles are uninspired. Combat is poorly paced and boring.

The Bottom Line

Shrek Forever After continues the trend of <em>Shrek </em>movie tie-in games that'll litter up the bargain bins for years to come. Its promises of family multiplayer fun fail to materialise, leaving this as yet another stinky movie tie-in game.

There. That's all you need to know. Can I go home now, please?

No? You actually want to know why it's not worth buying?

Oh, very well. Shrek Forever after follows the plot of the recent movie closely, with Shrek having made a deal with Rumplestiltskin that backfires and destroys his continuity. This plays out in-game with a smattering of pre-rendered and still cutscenes, and is arguably the game's greatest strength. Or perhaps its only strength.

Shrek Forever After plays out as one part beat-'em-up, one part puzzle game. It supports local multiplayer, with each player taking the role of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and Puss In Boots respectively. If you're lacking in friends, you play as a single character but can switch to any other with a tap of the direction button as needed.

Each of the four heroes have special attacks and special abilities. The special attacks all basically do the same thing — stun your enemies — whether it's Shrek's roar, Donkey's singing or Puss In Boots' adorable kitty eyes. Special abilities on the other hand are used to overcome the game's puzzles. Shrek, being big and strong can shift boxes around and lift specific objects. Fiona can start fires, which is useful for blowing up obstacles. Donkey can kick over horseshoe marked obstacles to clear the way or build bridges, and Puss is able to climb to high spots in order to access treasures and overcome barriers. They're all very simple puzzle mechanics, which is fair enough for the target market, but they're almost all undone by the game's overly fiddly collision detection. Shrek will drop objects where he shouldn't, Fiona will accidentally light exploding barrels that are too near, and getting Puss to accurately hop can be a nightmare. Because the same button controls attacking and these special abilities, it's all too easy to start thumping your team-mates when you're trying to sort out a tricky puzzle.

Shrek's combat tries to walk the line between appealing complex combat, with power-ups gained from enemies for successful combination hits, and not being too difficult for younger players by predominantly only using one attack button. It's a line that it falls over far too frequently. Either enemy waves will be too sparse and you'll never get a power-up when needed, or you'll grow bored of just jabbing the A button over and over again, no matter how many times "Walking On Sunshine" plays in the background. Shrek's puzzles are similarly mundane affairs that serve to stretch the game out by forcing you to deal with the same puzzles over and over again with little thought given to creativity. Again, it's a fine line between complex puzzles that might tax younger audiences, but in our playthrough of the game with a group of children aged under 10, all of them picked that the puzzles were just the same thing, over and over.

In single player Shrek Forever After is a pedestrian affair that might appeal slightly to fans of the big green fellow. In multiplayer, however, the game fails, and badly. I tested with a group of three under-tens, who should be the target market. It took less than 30 seconds for the fights to break out, simply because of the aforementioned sharing of the attack and interaction buttons. In the combat sections it's too hard to move around without bumping into each other at best, and thumping each other at worst. In the puzzle sections the poor detection routines make the repetitive puzzles very frustrating. In a couple of instances the group decided it'd be swifter to switch back to a single player simply to proceed faster, and that's hardly a ringing endorsement.

Shrek Forever After manages to look like Shrek well enough, and if you're obsessive about everything Ogrish it does follow the film closely enough if you ignore the fact that party members are present in challenges they shouldn't be in. At a game level though, clunky gameplay mechanics, especially in multiplayer make it a rather hefty dud.