Shrek: The Video Game – A Game of Sighs

I told my editor about a month ago that I intended to start doing a segment where I reviewed the worst games in existence. He approved the idea and told me to get to it as soon as possible. The only issue was, I had absolutely no motivation to hunt down terrible games and play them. However, after a wonderful little chat concerning my paychecks and how I may not be seeing any more until I got to work on this section, I decided to hop to it.

The first game on this list is Shrek for the Xbox. Admittedly, it’s probably not the worst game in the universe, but it might as well be for me.

Let’s go back ten years. I was an aspiring youth being held under the oppressing thumbs of my oppressing parents who felt a need to constantly oppress me. Despite the constant oppression though, 2001 was shaping up to be a good year for me. I was getting an Xbox for my birthday, and maybe I could even get that cool new Halo title everyone was talking about. That would have been wonderful if not for the fact that Halo was rated M for mature.

To my parents, any game rated M was considered a portal for Satan to use to get into my brain. Unfortunately for me, almost every game that came out on the Xbox was either a sports game or rated M. Because of this, I got two games for my birthday: Fusion Frenzy and Shrek.

Now, Fusion Frenzy is in no way a terrible game. However, you can only climb up a cork-screw of death so many times before you get bored of it. Having clocked 40 hours into Fusion Frenzy, I was finished with it entirely (that and I think my dog ate the disc or something). With nothing else to play, I decided to pop in Shrek.

To this day, I don’t know how I played that game as much as I did.

Now, if this was a traditional review on our lovely site, I’d be obligated to cover some basics. I’d discuss the sound, some of the graphics, the controls, the overall plot, and how the game feels as a whole. Fortunately for me, my editor made the mistake of letting me do what I want with these articles. Needless to say, I’m not doing that.

Instead, I’m doing what everyone on the internet who gets constant views does. I’m complaining about things that everyone hated subconsciously. That way, when people read this, they’ll nod their heads and say “Yeah, I DID hate that. Man, this dude is pretty awesome. I think I’ll buy him a Sno-cone”. With any luck, Yahtzee and I will be raging on GTA V by its release.

In all seriousness though, this game was utter garbage. I really cannot think of it having a redeeming quality beyond “decent” graphics at the time it came out. Sure everything looked pretty, but I’ve played enough RPGs to know that graphics mean nothing if the game sucks. Seriously though, that’s all the game had going for it. Graphics. Sure, that might work with games like Rumble Roses XX, but not with a game where the only cleavage belongs to an ogre!

If that wasn’t bad enough, the game was dreary. If I wasn’t scrambling Humpty Dumpty, I was wading knee deep through some molasses hell zone. Even the levels that should have been cheerful seemed over-run with dank, unlovable environments. Oddly enough, this too could have worked if they were making Conker 2, Straight On To Candy Land, or something with that adult feel, but no – this was Shrek. A game based on a movie that captivated small children and animation majors alike.

Then there was the actual gameplay. Holy hell in a hand-basket, was it abysmal.

Actually, it could have been half decent if anything died. Literally, nothing in that game stayed unconscious/dead. In that game, I could probably light an enemy made entirely of dry wood on fire with a fart before throwing it off a cliff and it would still come back to try and kill me. Even this could have been all right if not for the fact that Shrek seemed to have a homing beacon strapped to his back. Literally, everywhere I went I was followed by the entirety of the level’s enemies.

Hopefully you’re beginning to get where I’m going with this. Shrek is a classic text-book example of using the right things in the wrong ways. It was a game that is almost salvageable if not for the fact that there were too many things that would have worked if they were done just slightly differently.

Pretend you wanted to make the player feel truly mortal, or like an underdog in a game. You either make the enemies ridiculously difficult to kill (see Dark Souls), or you make them down-right impossible to kill. That’s fine. I can understand that in a survival horror, or even in a stealth-based game. However, don’t put that in a game meant for children to enjoy when they got home from school. That’s just insult to injury.

Also, don’t give me missions that are almost impossible to complete without cheating. If you do decide to listen to the bad programmer inside you, don’t penalize me for cheating like it’s the worst thing I could possibly do. You try kicking knights out a 40 foot window from 100 feet away without the anti-gravity cheat on and tell me that’s fair. Go on; I dare you.

Seriously though, you can’t play this game without cheating. Then, if you do cheat, the game jumps on your back and beats your face into a wall for doing it. It’s not even that hard, except for the above-mentioned enemies who follow you like ravenous wolves. I’m not convinced it’s possible to kick an enemy out the aforementioned window without the hordes of other enemies kicking me in the teeth for it.

Ultimately, this game really could have been a good one. It had a lovable character, some interesting power-ups, and a decent quest or two to go on. However, it’s a classic example of what not to do. If anyone is still having an issue figuring out what not to do while programming a game, I’ve figured out a solution. Say what you’re going to do out loud and see how it rolls off the tongue.

“Let’s make invincible enemies in a child’s game, then compliment them with impossibly difficult missions to complete.”

Not a good idea.