1/5/2010 10:05 AM
Some planets are best left undiscovered
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Developer: Pyro Studios
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
Movie tie-in games are normally not well regarded by gamers. The reason for this is that this genre of game is filled with games that are usually rushed to the market with little actual development effort made to produce a good product. The publishers of such titles hope that moviegoers who loved the associated movie may want to continue the adventure at home. At times a movie tie-in game will be handed over to a respectable game developer that will produce a quality game. Planet 51 was not so fortunate.
Planet 51 is a movie tie-in game based on the movie of the same title. Planet 51 follows the adventures of Lem, a teenage resident of Planet 51, whose life is turned upside down with the arrival of Chuck; a human astronaut that lands on the planet. It appears that residents of Planet 51 imagine humans as ugly space aliens that eat flesh and turn inhabitants into mindless zombies (thems are politicians). It is up to Lem to help Chuck get back to his spaceship and return to Earth. The plot sounded quite promising, the execution not so. Thanks to extremely poor storytelling, stereotypical one-dimensional characters and bad jokes, Planet 51 the movie fared poorly in the eyes critics and moviegoers alike. Still I had hoped that the game could overcome these deficiencies and become one of those rare games that manage to surpass its source material. So did it? No! The game borrows the same storyline, but replaces the barely entertaining filler animation between plot elements of the movie with boring driving related mini-games.
Planet 51 is such mess of a game that I honestly do not know were to begin with this review. I will start with the only positive aspect of the game, the graphics.
The graphics in Planet 51 are quite enjoyable. The game was built using the Unreal engine and it shows. Many of the game scenes look like they came straight from the movie. All the characters are well defined and look very similar to their movie counterpart. Not everything is the visual department is perfect. There is clipping aplenty and collision detection is far from perfect. The cut scenes are a mix of actual movie footage which looks great, and in-game animation which looks like it was animated by a near-sighted monkey.
The in-game audio is among the worse in recent memory for a game. The fact that the audio/video synchronization was completely off did not bother me much as I quickly disabled all sound for it was too painful to keep hearing the same bad lines over and over again. The audio appears to be nothing more than bad movie lines cut & pasted to fit the game. The games music, when present, was about as pleasant as my own singing (if you know me, you would understand this is not a compliment).
I would like to say that game controls fared better than the audio, but I cannot. If the game cut-scenes were created by a near-sighted monkey, the game controls like a near-sighted monkey. The game relies pretty much exclusively on driving various vehicles in a series of mini-games. The first event of the game is for Lem to mow his neighbour’s lawn. The entire game is then nothing more than a series of races or timed driving events duct taped together with the faintest shred of story telling, that must be accomplished with the same set of sloppy controls. Planet 51 is not so much a game as it is an experiment in the limits of human patience. It speaks volumes to the game shortcomings when I consider the car parking mini-game the highlight of the title.
The game does feature a multiplayer option that I opted to skip. Repeating the same mini-game over and over again, enduring getting my hover vehicle caught mid-air over a park bench, dealing with artificial intelligence that make George Bush appear like a genius all constituted enough pain and suffering for one lifetime.
I really do not understand who the developers were targeting with this title. The game is too difficult to appeal to young gamers thanks to the wonky controls, and to boring to appeal to anyone above the age of six thanks to a horrible story and coma inducing mini-games. Even gamerscore junkies will be turned off by the time commitment required to unlock most of the achievements.
Planet 51 deserves its place in gaming history along side another title featuring a cute space alien; E.T.
1 comment(s) so far...
By Sileed on 1/5/2010 10:50 AM
All that badness and you still managed to squeak out 595 Gamerscore? That's 70% of the achievements my sadistic Red friend.You are truly a GS Whore.