52 Weeks of Canadian Gaming - Week 33
Bee Movie Game
Release Date: October 30, 2007
Developer: Beenox Studios
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
Barry B. Benson is not your average honeybee. Unlike other honeybees, he is not content with his lot in life as a simple honeybee worker. Similar to our bee friend, Bee Movie Game is not your average game. Not only is the game a movie tie-in game but one aimed squarely at a younger crowd. This may scare some of the more "mature" gamers into thinking that there is nothing redeeming about the title. As it turns out, the game is actually quite fun for gamers of all ages.
Bee Movie Game borrows from many other games to create a new experience that is very fresh and fun. The game primarily features an open sandbox gaming format, similar to the one used by another more popular game featuring Russian cousins, with some mission based scenarios located outside the main game area. Indeed the two games do have many similarities such as a large environment to explore, missions to accomplish and clothing to be purchased.
In the sandbox mode, Barry is free to explore New Hive City, the game's main location and Barry's home. While not anywhere near as large as other fictional game cities, the hive does offer plenty of locations to explore filled with enough activities to keep a young hip bee quite busy for a long time. Walking about the city can be very time consuming and unnecessary option as Barry can just commandeer any vehicle he wants. This being a family friendly game, Barry will just "borrow" an empty car, or if the car is already occupied, the driver will just deliver Barry to his desired destination. Now I could not see why other games could not implement such a friendly method of transportation as well. As Barry explores New Hive City, there will be many items for him to find among these will be honey combs. Honey combs will provide Barry with currency to allow him to purchase various vehicles and uniforms.
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Bees love to work and Barry is no exception, he just loves variety. Good thing for Barry that the game does offer plenty of different tasks for him to perform. Barry can choose to be a race car driver, a delivery boy, a cab driver or even work as a Honey employee where he will have even more career options. Of course all work and no play makes Barry a very boring bee. Lucky for Barry that new Hive City has a great arcade where Barry can kick back and enjoy some quality gaming action.
It's not all fun and games for Barry. There is a mystery in the air that must be solved. To main story comprises of eleven missions. All the missions are slightly based on events of the actual movie. Each one will takes place in its own unique environment. The missions will feature a combination of open ended gameplay and Quick Timed Elements. Long time readers will know that I really dislike QTEs. The only good part was that most of the QTEs are similar to Dragon Lair and each sequence of moves can be memorized, or better yet jotted down an a sheet of paper and simply followed once the entire sequence has been documented. Other QTEs, such as boss battles, are not so generous as these QTEs are random. Still these sequences are quite rare and easy enough to not become annoying.
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The visuals for the game are quite nice even though there is nothing extraordinary about any of the graphics. In fact most of the architecture and models are quite simplistic, but this simplicity is very fitting for the nature of the title. New Hive City is bright and colourful. This is exactly how I would imagine a bee hive to look like on the inside. The various mission locations are also very colourful and quite cheery.
The music and sounds of the game really sets up a playful tone for the game. Voice acting is top notch with many of the movie cast reprising their roles for the game including Jerry Seinfeld, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton and Tress MacNeille.
The controls are very good, even if the car driving is a bit loose. Actually the loose car controls did remind me once again of that other open sandbox game that featured equally bad vehicular controls.
When it comes down to it, Bee Movie Game is very similar to the other more famous sandbox game, just covered in a family friendly coating. Beenox Studios of Quebec should be commended for delivering a game that can derive the same enjoyment level obtained from those other similar titles without the need of any of the violence or vulgarity (or poor accents). Sadly since this game does not feature any violence, the game will be overlooked by many. Sometimes I think most gamers forget the enjoyment that can be obtained from playing non-violent, but fun games.