PlayStation 2 Review
Mon, 17 January 2005
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Isnâ€™t it great when something exceeds your expectations? That is exactly what happened to me with this Lemony Snicketâ€™s game based on the new movie starring Jim Carey (which is in turn based on the popular books). It is well known that the majority of games based on movies tend to suck, but this one ended up being pretty good. Lemony Snicketâ€™s was a short experience, but it was one that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Hereâ€™s an outline of the plot taken from Activisionâ€™s website: â€śâ€¦this is the tale of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, whose parents perish in a fire. Soon after, they are sent to live with their sinister uncle, Count Olaf, in a most cavernous mansion. Great tragedy becomes greater misfortune as Olafâ€™s despicable plans are revealed and the siblings must combine forces to prevent the Count and his henchmen from seizing their immense family fortune.â€ť
Using the triangle button, the player can switch between all three children at various stages. This aspect of the game reminds me a bit of Mario and Luigiâ€™s Superstar Saga on the Gameboy Advance, which is a compliment as I loved that game. Each character has different skills, so the style of the game changes slightly depending on which of them you are controlling at the time. You have to alternate between each of them, using their unique strengths to work through the levels. This gives the game a bit of a tactical feel and helps keep it different to the other billion movie based run and jump games that have come before.
Obviously this is targeted more towards kids than old buggers like me. The game holds your hand throughout and it is all pretty easy, but that doesnâ€™t mean thereâ€™s no fun to be had for us old timers. The variety of the gameplay is quite impressive, there are certain tasks you have to do that are actually quite similar, but they are presented in such a way that it usually still feels fresh. Mostly you are exploring and trying to collect items, but the way you do it is more fun than it may sound. You get the standard 3D platforming action, which is well designed and enjoyable. But there are also the 2D levels (though still presented with 3D graphics) when you are controlling the baby Sunny; these sections were a nice diversion and somewhat reminiscent of the classic SNES game Yoshiâ€™s Island. There are also parts of the game that take a first person view and play like Virtual Cop or Time Crisis where you have to move the cursor around and shoot all the targets/enemies that pop up. These bits are unlikely to have you selling your old copy of House of the Dead, but once again, they help to keep things varied. The controls are responsive and well set out too.
The presentation is a big part of what makes Lemony Snicketâ€™s so appealing. The graphics are crisp and detailed and do a good job of resembling the movie (at least from what I have seen of it in the previews). The game/film has a slightly Tim Burton look to it (as Special K mentioned to me), which is great for me as Iâ€™m a big fan of his. All the characters are well animated and full of personality.
The sound and music is equally good, if not even better. All the characterâ€™s voices are done by the actors from the film; Jim Carey, Australiaâ€™s own Emily Browning and so on, are all here. The soundtrack by Thomas Newman is straight from the movie too and it works extremely well.
One of the biggest problems with Lemony Snicketâ€™s is that the enemies and boss fights are all fairly similar and none of them offer much challenge. In fact, many of them arenâ€™t very interesting at all; squashing spiders and rats gets old pretty fast and you soon long for some more substantial enemies. The bosses are slightly more fun, but they all follow the same couple of set patterns, often leaving you thinking â€śwas that it?â€ť when you defeat them. But we must remember, as I said earlier, this game is geared to a young audience, not veteran gamers. So the lack of challenge is quite forgivable here. To add a little bit of length to the game for those who want it, the programmers have included several unlockable extras which can be attained by finding all the hidden puzzle pieces in each level. None of the extras are going to set your world on fire, but hey, bonus stuff is always welcome in my book.
I found the gameâ€™s dark and twisted sense of humour very amusing. It has actually made me keen to go and see the movie. If you have kids that you play video games with, this is one I highly recommend as you wonâ€™t be bored out of your mind helping them through it. Lemony Snicketâ€™s a Series of Unfortunate Events is a good game for a weekend rental for those who like platform/exploration games, or fans of the books/movie. For kids (or their parents), who will probably take a while longer to play through it, I can recommend it as worthy purchase. Keep in mind that the score Iâ€™ve given this game applies to its target audience of youngsters. Older folks should knock one or two buttons off that total. Versions of this game are also available on PC, Xbox, Gamecube and Gameboy Advance.
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A charming and well designed game that does justice to its source material.