It's not easy being green.
One of the fundamental tenets of this industry is that any video game based off of a movie license is going to be bad. Although some people may hinge on champions such as GoldenEye and the recent Lord of the Rings games as examples of quality movie licensed games, these games epitomize exceptions that prove the rule. Does Shrek 2 escape this fate? In this instance, the prejudice is warranted.
The gameplay structure of Shrek 2 is very much like that of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. They do both emphasize the four-player aspect, except in FF:CC you can play by yourself should you feel so inclined. Shrek 2 forces you to cart around three AI bots whose sole job is to find new ways to make you restart the level. A hypothetical scenario, if you will. Suppose you fall into a pit in Shrek 2. You must restart the level. Also suppose one of your AI bot buddies falls into a pit. You must restart the level. In addition, suppose you just happen to be subject to a bug in the game in which you fall through the floor for no apparent reason. Restart the level please. And if that is not enough, suppose one of your AI buddies glitches out through the floor. Restart level. I really wish this was a hypothetical scenario, but it all happened to me before I was even halfway through the game. The tedium started to set in.
Shrek 2 tries to break this tedium by incorporating several other game designs, in addition to being a glitchy excuse for a platformer. There is some mission-based thing in the main part of the Far Far Away level. In smaller doses, the game also tries its hand as a rhythm-based game, a shooter, and a weird chasing game. All these gameplay styles are presented in a segment called "Hero Time." It is as lame as it sounds. Usually at the end of every level, there is a segment that only one person of your "party" can enter. And it is just as tedious and ill-thought as the rest of the game.
Speaking of ill-thought, the controls are maddeningly unresponsive. If it were not for the glitch deaths, all of the frustration would come from repeating the level over and over due to deaths from buggy control response. Your character is usually slow on the uptake on certain commands, and he moves just as slowly. To say this game gets reduced to a button-masher would be an understatement. Many of the characters have "special abilities" which really aren't. Special, that is. Shrek can lift stuff, and the donkey can kick stuff, and the wolf can blow. Other than for some simple puzzles, most of the special moves are combat oriented, and, for that reason, useless.
If you considered having some friends over for Shrek 2, the multiplayer works like this. You and up to three buddies can each control a character, very much in the vein of FF:CC. Sometimes there are challenges in the game specifically for four players, like this one part on a farm where you all try to catch eggs. Everybody I played Shrek 2 with found it somewhat boring. Don’t expect any new multiplayer modes to unlock, because there aren’t any. Just weird little character-specific minigames.
Now, I am not much of a graphics man, but even Shrek 2 gets a little ugly in my eyes. It has medium polygon-count models with some quite unattractive textures, mixed with very bland and cramped environments suffering from some serious pop-in, all being viewed by one of the worst cameras ever. And the game still manages to drum up a little slowdown. It is unfortunate that the best thing I can say about Shrek 2’s visuals is that they are not too bad.
I usually don’t bring up things like music or sound unless they are remarkably good or remarkably bad. And with Shrek 2, the latter is true with a vengeance. All the characters (whose voices are provided by impersonators) spout out cheesy one-liners every chance they get, to some really forgettable and sometimes downright bad music. And to top it all off, there are several sound glitches, reminiscent of a CD skipping, on a certain level. What warrants such glitchery? Did their QA have a day off or something?
You know folks, this game is pretty bad. I try to have fun with everything I see. My standards aren’t high. It doesn’t take much to impress me. Even movie-based games have a chance with me. That said, I found nothing fun in Shrek 2. At best this game is below average.