Experience a free-roaming farm in which all cows, male and female, have udders and squirt milk up to fifteen yards away as a means of defense. This is GTA: Barnyard City.
Last updated: 07/08/2006 by Jonathan Metts
Barnyard is a children's game based on a summer CG-drawn movie about farm animals that walk on two legs and cause all sorts of mischief when the farmer isn't looking. But the GameCube version of Barnyard is not your typical movie-licensed game. It's not some kind of platformer or string of poorly connected mini-games. Barnyard is far more ambitious, if not original, in that it follows the form of Grand Theft Auto III, Spider-Man 2, and Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. The barnyard, and the rest of the rather large farm that makes up the game world, is open and seamlessly connected, with many hidden items and locations of interest to encourage exploration.
Your character is the new cow on the farm, who must eventually save everyone from raccoons and coyotes who threaten the gentle farmer (who is a vegetarian) and his livelihood. At the start of the game, you select your cow's name, breed, and gender…but like the other cows in Barnyard, your cow will have milk-producing udders no matter what. Chalk it up to part of the game's humor; it is, after all, based on a movie by Steve Oedekerk, who was involved with Ace Ventura, Kung Pow, and The Nutty Professor.
Your cow can run, jump, and kick various small objects to release coins and other goodies. She (or he!) can also squirt milk like a Super Soaker at other animals, to tease, wake, or deter them. To help you get around the large game world, there are bicycles stationed in each area. The bike is many times faster than walking, and you can jump it and do simple air tricks. Of course, there are bike race missions too. Later in the game, you can even drive a truck.
The game's progression is tied to a variety of missions assigned by the animals of the farm. Otis is a rebellious cow who asks you to help him pull pranks on the humans and other animals. Pig is a pig (no, really) who loves cooking but is too lazy to find ingredients – that's where you come in. Hannah is the mother hen who asks you to find her lost eggs and protect the henhouse from invading creatures. Animals send you text messages on your cell phone when they have a mission ready. Some missions are only available at night, including the Night Barn super-mission. The idea here is to rack up coins by finishing other missions, and then buy furniture and other items from the Gopher Shop to decorate the barn (which has been turned into an animal night club) and make it the hottest party scene this side of Mr. McGregor's vegetable patch.
The progression from day to night and back is not real-time; a full cycle is perhaps forty-five minutes long. You can easily fast-forward to the next sunrise or sunset by going to sleep in your shed, which is also the save point.
Some missions just task you with retrieving a certain object or going to a certain place, while others require you to beat a mini-game. There are about twenty mini-games in all, and after playing them once, you can access them directly from the title screen menu. One mini-game lets you sneak up behind the mail man and tease him with all kinds of silly dance moves (including "The Robot"). If he starts to turn around, you must quickly drop to all fours to avoid being caught. Another game has you playing billiards against a dog on a boat-shaped table. The pool physics are simplified and the ball trajectory is displayed so kids have a better chance to win.
Obviously, Barnyard is an E-rated game with family-friendly humor, but older players will appreciate the open design inspired by the very mature GTA series. Parents and even grandparents should also appreciate the game's soundtrack, which uses real traditional instruments (not MIDI) such as acoustic guitar, banjo, Dobro, jaw harp, and harmonica. The music changes dynamically as you move from one area and activity to another, employing down-home styles like country, bluegrass, and southern rock.
Look for the Barnyard video game to launch in early August 2006, a few days before the movie hits theaters.