I know I sound like a broken record but allow me to skip the needle across the LP a few more times as I review D3's "Rise of the Guardians," a game that further proves the critical claim that games based on movies are creatively bankrupt. And this year seems particularly annoying with bad games based on Mickey Mouse ("Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
"), Toy Story ("Toy Story Mania
"), and Family Guy ("Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse
") on New Release shelves right now. One of the worst of the bunch is "Rise of the Guardians," a game based on the similarly-mediocre DreamWorks movie featuring voice work by Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, and Hugh Jackman. The movie "Rise of the Guardians" takes interesting ideas about beloved characters serving guard over our childhood innocence and makes it into relatively boring mass entertainment. Calling the game version of "Rise of the Guardians" relatively boring would be too kind. It is supremely dull with all of the creative drive of a McDonald's Happy Meal toy. It's a tie-in designed to sell copies to a movie's hardcore fans without any thought of actually delivering them a quality product or finding a larger audience.
- Publisher: D3Publisher
- Developer: D3Publisher
- ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10 and Older)
- Genre: Adventure Games
- Pros: Clever Concept, Easy For Kids
- Cons: Poor Execution, Dull Repetition, Boring Gameplay
"Rise of the Guardians" is about iconic characters from childhood legends brought to life to save the innocence of youth from an evil creature named Pitch. Up to four players can take control of Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, The Sandman, The Easter Bunny, and Jack Frost as they battle through levels based on environments from the film. Each of the characters has different attack animations and special moves but the gameplay is essentially the same. Hit the same button over and over and over again until all the bad guys are gone and you can move on to another part of the level in which you hit the same button over and over and over...
Rise of the GuardiansImage © D3Publisher
It really couldn't be simpler. Yes, it's kind of neat to bounce back and forth between different characters like bad-ass versions of Easter Bunny and Santa Claus but the ingenuity of it all quickly dissipates when realizes that all of the difference are almost entirely cosmetic. One could progress through the entirety of "Rise of the Guardians" without ever doing anything but a basic attack. Yes, you can upgrade abilities throughout the game but there's no need to and you'll never block after you're forced to do so in the bloated tutorial.
Over the course of a day (it won't take you longer than that to get to 100%), you can visit five worlds based on the movie in any order before handling a final boss battle. The gameplay in all five worlds is nearly identical even if the level designs do bring about the only bit of variety you'll find in the title. Each of the realms has its own personality. Sadly, what you do there feels empty. All of the objectives are of the collection, fetch, or survive variety. Go find something. Kill all the faceless, personality-less bad guys to do so.
Graphics & Sound
The best thing that one can say about the movie "Rise of the Guardians" is that the film has a nice sense of art in its design. The characters are interestingly rendered as the film has a stronger visual eye than some of the ugly animated flicks of this year like, say, "Hotel Transylvania." And yet the game version of "Rise of the Guardians" is hideous. Levels look incomplete. Characters go through repetitive, uninteresting animations every time they fight. None of it looks like what we should expect from a PS3 game in 2012.
Rise of the GuardiansImage © D3Publisher
The failure of "Rise of the Guardians" comes down to a shocking lack of creativity. When developers are assigned a tie-in for a movie that appeals to young adults, there's something about that assignment that appears to drain them of their passion for gaming. I understand that there's a need to appeal to all fans of the movie, even young ones who may not be able to handle complex games, but developers need to stop taking the intelligence and gaming abilities of youngsters for granted. We'd like to think that whenever a game is released, the people behind it have given it their all to make sure it satisfies its target audience. I have a hard time believing that was the case with "Rise of the Guardians," a game that isn't awful enough to be truly memorable but is sure to satisfy no one.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy