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July 6, 2001

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page



Digital Illusions

TDK Mediactive


Q4 2001


Check out our preview, complete with exclusive new media, of TDK Mediactive's Xbox title based on the blockbuster film.

Generally speaking, movie games boast all the inspiration, pizzazz, and overall appeal of an ingrown toenail.

Legions of developers have tried to correct this observation, but precious few have succeed to do anything but turn our stomachs. One after one, meek, glass-jawed contenders have fought for respect, only to get pummeled mercilessly by the towering arbiter of good taste.

The next great hope is headed our way in the form of Shrek for Xbox. About the only thing we know about Shrek, the movie, is that it made more money than the Egyptian Pharaohs.

About the game, we know a little more, thanks largely to the exclusive batch of new media in our possession. Although the odds are not stacked in Shrek's favor, the game shows promise.

For starters, it looks damn good. The title character is gorgeous (for an Ogre), and the existing environments are a showcase for the console's arsenal of graphical tricks. Bump-mapped textures, dynamic lighting, and sky-high polygon counts are the order of the day. In some ways, Shrek looks a little rough around the edges, such as the paucity of detail in some environments, but even now you can tell that, if the game bombs, no one will blame the visuals.

The gameplay definitely explores some relatively unchartered territory. For example, Shrek can emit a cloud of - how can I put this delicately - "natural gas," which, if you've ever been to a decent frat party, can be ignited to produce a ball of flame. At one point in the demo, if memory serves right, Shrek emitted some gas, breathed a lick of fire, and then hurled a flaming rooster a couple hundred yards. Like we said, the game shows promise.

In our interview with Ken Fox, Shrek's Producer, we were told, "Shrek Xbox is a cross between the standard action platformer and more of a brawling style of game. Game play will be mostly running around solving puzzles and inventing strategies to defeat large numbers of enemies." Sounds like the classic action/adventure formula to us. Thankfully, Shrek is looking to pull it off in style.

Details about the story are scarce. At the very least, we expect it to follow the storyline of the film in an action-adventure sort of way. A Shrek spokesperson says the game will be stocked with engaging puzzles and unique objectives.

Development of the game was being helmed by Sandbox Studios until it got acquired by Digital Illusions, which is most widely known for racing titles such as Rally Masters and NASCAR HEAT. IGN names Rally Masters "Racing Game of the Year" for 2000, so we at least know that these guys can write some code.

Movie games don't have a storied history, but a scattering of gems have risen above the muck (Die Hard for the PSX and a few of the Star Wars games spring to mind). We can only hope that Shrek follows through on its early promise and joins the (slim) ranks of triple-A movie games.

Tony Scinta
Thinks games based on movies are at least a step ahead of movies based on games.

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