Christmas is in two days, so how about a little Holidays-themed review? Hm? There’s that Wii game in my collection that I’ve barely played ever since I bought it. Maybe it would be time for me to take a better look at it, huh?
If you’re a Dreamworks fan, and even if you aren’t, you probably know about their 2012 film, Rise of the Guardians. A beautiful CGI-animated film about Jack Frost being called to help other icons of holidays and childhood in their fight against a villain who’s basically the Boogeyman. Of course, it is a lot more complex than that – the film contains dozens of little touches present in the original oeuvre, William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood, for which this film can also be considered a loose sequel of sorts. The film covers a lot of ground, discussing the relations the Guardians have between each other and how they feel about their appointed role in the mythology of children’s beliefs. It ties this all together into a compelling story about friendship, beliefs, memories, dreams and kicking ass. Because kicking ass they do. If you’re given the task to protect the children of the world as long as they believe in you, and you’ve got the superpowers to back it up, surely you’re not gonna be shy about jumping into action as soon as a major threat appears.
Also, I never thought Hugh Jackman would have been given an even hairier role than the one he usually plays.
|As an example, here's the DS version.|
Looks too similar to the others.
And for those who tell me that Rise of the Guardians is technically more of an Easter movie… Let me show you something. See this empty shelf over here?
This is where I store my damns, when I have any. As you can see, I’m all out.
|Nice artstyle, though I wonder why they went with it.|
|"Hey! Let go of my scepter! If you don't, I'll put it on you|
where the sun doesn't shine!"
"So it would be on me..."
|And of course, the game never gets close enough to let us|
get a good look at the CGI models. And of course, the
Guardians fight, but nobody can hamr Pitch right now.
Yet, it should be so easy!
|"Ack! We all gone invisible! We need expert to help!|
Call Griffin the Invisible Man!"
"We can't, he works at Sony Animation.
He's not at DreamWorks!"
Hey, I know just the guy who can help with that! He’s used to cleaning up the messes left in weird places. He just needs to grab his cleaning machine.
Can’t guarantee he’ll have time to help though, his schedule is filled to the brim with activities such as toilet unclogging, dragon-turtle kicking, brother-shaming and princess rescuing. And even then, he spends his free time go-karting or partying.
|This is Santa's workshop. I'd say I should show a Burgess|
screen instead, but all locations in this game are the same
damn deal anyway. In this case, we are saving some
guys from dark cages - and since this is North's workshop,
you're saving elves.
The enemies also become stronger very quickly, so you should take your time in each part of each realm to fight and gain power. That goes for all of the Guardians, by the way – you should use them all as often as possible, switching out between them instead of keeping a favorite. Having an untrained Guardian means that Guardian will be less capable in battle later on.
|Check this statement at the bottom. I swear, this game is like the entire|
concept of Captain Obvious given a coat of codes, programs and CGI.
The Boogeyman lives in the shadows? Gee, I would have never guessed!
Second quick note about the cutscenes; I get that they were working with limited resources (I mean, the Wii would force the CGI to be pretty limited), and so they had to find a way to make these scenes interesting nonetheless… but the choice they went with is rather meh. Still images with a moving camera, pictures in a simple, mural-like style. Fits the mythology idea of the heroes, but… I don’t know I am not a fan of it. Plus, I believe that some cutscenes are used and reused from time to time, just to fill some time between important parts. Same cutscene, seen at least a few times. The one where Bunny tells Jack he’s not really “part of the group”, with North reassuring Jack afterwards.
The town of Burgess is split in five areas, in which the monsters get much, much tougher as you progress. This highlights the need to “level up” your characters so that they can face against the growing threats. At some point, bosses show up – large black sand scorpions. Once the bosses of the fifth area of Burgess are defeated, the group finds a way into Pitch’s lair – under a bed, because I suppose the monsters in the closets are too nice – and beat him to a black-bloodied pulp.
|You don't see it all that well, but they're all around|
Jamie. Easy to accidentally hit a kid that is standing there,
not moving out of the way, on a friggin' battlefield!
And so, with Burgess freed after an hour of two of killing black monsters of various kinds in swarms over and over and over again… we move on to any of the other realms, to spend an hour or two killing black monsters of various kinds in swarms over and over and over again. See the problem with the game? It’s beyond repetitive after a while, with no real incentive to keep playing to find something new to do. There is nothing new to do. Kill enemies, heal the Guardians, restore faith, save kids, collect treasure and symbols, and kill more enemies. No variety. Sure, the monsters get tougher as we go, but that’s not really variety, just normal progression in a game… I’m not even sure I want to beat this game, it just feels tedious.
|Okay, who greyscaled the world again?|
You do unlock special abilities as you level up the heroes, and you can equip special hexagonal precious stones to them to give them bonuses in battle; but this doesn’t add much. You earn crystals when killing enemies, and you can use these crystals to buy the previously-mentioned hexagonal stones, as well as items in the game’s art gallery. Because it’s easy to add content from development into the game. Thing is, there usually is a greater challenge to encourage players to chase down this content – as an example, Sonic and the Secret Rings demanded that the player earns medals on certain missions, or a certain number of silver or golden medals, to get the secret content. You could also check the world leaderboards for the game… back when the Wii still was connected to Wi-Fi, but even when it was, I don't know if it was even worth it.
After the five realms have been properly visited, and enough belief has been restored to the world, we get to that final fight between the heroes and Pitch. It goes… exactly like the previous fights against Pitch. Deplete its HP quickly, that’s all. As a surprise, Pitch then splits into many miniature versions of himself with plenty of HP, so those have to be destroyed… then Pitch is defeated for good. He flees, Jack Frost is accepted among the Guardians, at last one of them. Roll credits.
|Gee, I didn't know Sandy had such a huge ship!|
We never saw him in an actual ship in the film...
|Tooth's castle admittedly looks great...|
Too bad we spend all this time doing the same damn
things we've been doing everywhere else!
Not even the cutscenes are interesting enough to keep you going! It’s neat that the game uses some pictures from the film – mostly on loading screens and for some character icons – but this only contrasts with the Wii’s low CGI quality. I mean, compare the actual look of the Sandman in the game, with an icon practically taken from the film.
Maybe that’s why they went for a minimalist style in the cutscenes! It’s another bad point for the game, because seeing those stills taken from the film is enough to make you wish you’d drop that game and watch the film again. You know what, don’t waste your money on this game. I liked the adaptation of How To Train Your Dragon because it had a fun concept that went past the plot of the film, with fun interactions to boot; the video games for Rise of the Guardians don’t measure up. Just watch the film, it’s a better experience all over.
|Yeah... watch the film. Everything will be better in it.|
even Pitch, the fighting, and everything else.
But it’s still early for end-of-year reviews and analyses. In two days, it’ll be Christmas. If you don’t celebrate it, I still wish you Happy Holidays, and I hope the last nine days of the year are filled with joy. For the others: Merry Christmas. I wish for you all to spend time with the people you love. Try to have fun – play with your family, party with friends, enjoy whichever gifts you’ll receive – and even if you don’t “receive” any, at least I hope that you can allow yourself to purchase an extra thing or two. Spread the friendship, spread the smiles.
As usual, Planned All Along will return next Friday. I’ll try to end the year on a happy note – we all need this.