The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe Review
By Chad Montague |
It's a rare thing when a videogame adaptation of a blockbuster film doesn't suck. The reason, of course, is simple. Studios want these games to cash in on a movie's popularity as quickly as possible, giving developers little time to develop a product of worth. As such, most of these small-screen adaptations are barely worth their packaging. They're often shameless exploitations of greater works of art. So when a game as enjoyable as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe comes along, it's a rare treat.
It bucks nearly every trend when it comes to movie-based videogames by offering a polished, well-designed adventure. It looks good, plays well and keeps things fresh by offering a slew of different play styles. It's by no means a perfect game, as none really is, but it's a great game for adolescents and good game for older gamers as well. It makes great use of the source material, too, so fans of the book (and the movie) will love the game's style and narrative. There are even a slew of high-quality clips from the movie. About the only problem with this, though, is that the game is currently very spoiler heavy. But hey, if you get this game as a Christmas present, then everything's fine and dandy.
For those who don't know the story, it follows four siblings, Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund, as they inadvertently discover a mystical land hidden inside a wardrobe. Sentient animals and mythical creatures such as centaurs and minotaurs populate the land, called Narnia. At the beginning of the story, Narnia is under the reign of an evil queen named the White Witch. But a legend foretells the coming of four children (known as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve) who will restore the rightful king of Narnia, Aslan the lion, to power. It all sounds pretty hokey if you haven't read the book, but it makes for great reading.
The game mirrors the plot of the book and movie, only there's far more action in the game. Make no mistake, Narnia is an action adventure game. Thankfully, developer Traveler's Tales crafted a refined action system that any fan of the genre could appreciate. Depending on the stage, you can play as two, three or all four of the children. You can switch between available characters at any time to make use of their individual strengths. This character dynamic drives the action in Narnia. Peter, the oldest sibling, is the strongest melee character so he's best used as a grunt fighter. Peter's younger brother, Edmund, can climb trees and poles. Lucy, the youngest, can crawl through narrow spaces. And Susan, the eldest sister, can throw snowballs and fire arrows.
Like in most action adventure games, a series of obstacles and enemies make up each stage. And while most games in the genre take a similar approach, Narnia takes this formula and adds a degree of polish and refinement that's downright rare. And not just rare for game based on a big movie, either, but rare for action games in general. Every aspect of the game, whether it's the camera, combat system, driving segments or boss encounters, all work the way they're meant to work. If this doesn't sound like too big of an accomplishment, well, just know that it truly is.