Santa Clause just sliced and diced a shadowy figure using a big sword…
I am sure I just saw the Easter Bunny flinging around dual boomerangs and dealing swift justice to a shadowy image of a horse…
And now the Tooth Fairy is in on the action… these aren’t how I remember these childhood characters, not one bit.
Rise of the Guardians follows the story of the film (I didn’t even know it was a film!). The Boogeyman, known as Pitch, is invading children’s dreams with nightmares. This is causing children all across the world to lose faith in the guardians themselves. The guardians (in no particular order) are North (Santa Claus), Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny) Jack Frost, Tooth (the Tooth Fairy), and Sandy (the Sandman). So, it falls to you, playing as one of five guardians, to restore belief in the guardians and vanquish Pitch to the shadows. This is done by playing through the five worlds available to you in the game. Each world is populated with a number of mission objectives. However, each world is populated by the exact same set of mission objectives. So, you’ll be spending a lot of time doing the exact same thing, just in a different setting. You’ll go to North’s toy workshop in the North Pole, Bunnymund’s Bunny Warren in Australia, Jack Frost’s hometown in New England, Tooth’s palace in the South Pacific, and Sandy’s floating fortress of sand somewhere off the coast of Mexico.
Simplicity is the order of the day with Rise of the Guardians. Everything is easy to understand and access, and while this is a design philosophy that looks good on paper you will quickly find the streamlining and ease-of-access to be excessive.
Be warned, you will actually reach 100% completion before you finish playing through the five worlds. A slight flaw in development if you ask me (which as this is my review, you have done). 100% completion should NEVER be achievable until the game has been played all the way through – kid’s game or not.
Being a game designed for kids and to be played as part of a larger family group, everything as mentioned is simple; including combat. A single button controls your basic attack. As you level up you gain access to character-specific special moves that are mapped to the X, Y, and B buttons. Told you, didn’t I? Simples.
Each of those special moves uses between one and three bars of energy; you quickly and efficiently replenish energy by landing attacks on enemies. Weapons and characters level up as you slay Pitch’s ethereal baddies ranging from owls and rats to wolves and horses. You will funnel skill points into one of a handful of skills including strength, defence, speed, etc. Or do what I did and just set this to auto. Yes I know, that’s a poor trait from a so called RPG fan, but with Guardians, there is no real need to spend time fussing over attributes. You are also able to purchase gems for each of the characters that act as enhancements or power-ups, giving your guardian extra damage to all base attacks or allowing your guardian to regenerate health over time. These are easily and quick to purchase as points rack up fast.
Technically… mechanically… visually… infact, in every aspect imaginable the game just works. Everything acts like it should. Rise of the Guardians is a game that proves a few things to a lot of big name developers and publishers. 1) It proves that you don’t need several years of development to design and have game mechanics and systems that work and work well. 2) It also proves that you don’t need unlimited funds in order to develop a game is polished and works well. Has adequate graphics, sound and controls. Most game publishers believe that a game with a big scale development budget will and is guaranteed to be a success. The more money you spend, the better the game will be and vice versa. Rise of the Guardians proves that that is and always will be false logic. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how awesome your convoluted plotline is, how visceral your combat is or how beautiful your game is if your game isn’t mechanically and systematically sound. Rise of the Guardians is.
The publisher was smart enough to not charge the usual £40 (or thereabouts) for this game. Once you have completed and played through the story mode there is an additional mode; horde mode, which does increases the playability, but the story, can be beaten in three hours or thereabouts (this doesn’t include all achievements mind). But even at £19.99 – £24.99 the length of the game still doesn’t seem to justify the price. Especially when you can download Arcade or even Indie titles for half price that last 2-3 times as long.
I’m not sure what else to say. Rise of the Guardians is an adequate kids game. If I was reviewing it for the purpose of an adult audience, well adequate would become poor. But for kids the game is adequate and will keep them quiet for a while. When William Joyce wrote his ‘The Guardians of Childhood’ series of books I very much doubt he ever thought there would be a movie and game made to complement them.
An adequate game earning an adequate score.