Shrek is back and his debut on Wii is, like the film, a bit of a mixed bag. It's technically solid enough to work as a kiddie-pleasing movie tie in, but for real gamers, or people that expect a little something special from their Wii, it has absolutely nothing going for it.
Beauty Or A Beast?
Shrek the Third is essentially a linear adventure hack 'em up, pushing you through enemy-filled level after enemy-filled level as Shrek seeks to find Arthur, the cousin of the King, to take the royal seat when the king passes away.
It's pretty straight-forward stuff. You smash legions of bad guys, jump a few obstacles, pull a few switches and collect a whole heap of stuff. And the game mixes things up a little by letting you control other characters at certain points in the story. It's not a user-lead decision - the level or scenario at hand dictates which character you play as, so you'll get to play as Puss, with his sword, Donkey with his flying kicks, and Sleeping Beauty.
Combat with all characters is basic stuff too, with your standard attacks pulled off by the obligatory Wii Remote waggle, and shaking the Nunchuk pulls off a more powerful uppercut. That barely even touches the capabilities of the Remote, but that's testament to the fact that this is just a multiplatform port, not designed to do anything special on the Wii at all.
The rest of the combat is done with buttons - B blocks, C does a finishing move (only when a C-icon appears above a weakened enemy's head), and yanking both the Z and B buttons simultaneously performs that characters' special move. Shrek slows down time, Puss and Sleeping Beauty stun everyone and Donkey does a flying kick, but you'll need to charge up a specials bar by collecting blue fairy dust sprinkled around levels.
A Mug's Game
There are other collectibles too, like mugs, coins and other random guff, and each level has bonus mission objectives that require you to grab a certain number of these objects. But that requires you to smash every last bit of scenery in the level in the hope that a random chair, table or wooden crate will crumble to magically reveal a silver mug or the equivalent collectible. Miss one and you have to play the whole damn level again. Can you be bothered? We certainly couldn't.
And that's pretty much the crunch of the whole game. It's all made nice and kiddie-friendly - your energy recharges, falling down pits only respawns you again, the bosses are easy and the camera is fixed so you don't have to worry about it. And it all works solidly enough - unlike games like Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four, this movie tie-in isn't all that bad.
But unfortunately it isn't all that good either. Shrek-obsessed kids might be content with the endlessly repetitive combat and lack of variety, but proper gamers certainly won't. You'll want more; a lot more. And you'll resent the fact that the visuals aren't really any better than the already cheap-looking Shrek games of the past generation.
And you won't bother with any of the mini-games that rip off classics like Frogger, either because, for some reason, they're two-player only. Not four. And not particularly fun either.
It's a functional, playable quest for fans of the film, but Shrek offers absolutely nothing to push your gaming skills, or your Wii for that matter.