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Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Review

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Developer: Eurocom Publisher: Activision
Release Date: June 30, 2009 Available On: PS3, Wii and Xbox 360

Games based on children animated films generally don’t fare too well in the critic’s eye. I for one do not have a problem recognizing the fact that these games have an intended audience and should be reviewed as such. That said, even children have taste – and they can be among the harshest critics when something fails to live up to their expectations. Does Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs fill the video game needs of the film’s fans?

A quick note to readers: I have not seen the newly released third film, although I am familiar with prior two Ice Age movies. That said, I could recognize the voice talent in the game as being the main actors from the film (Ray Romano as Manny, Queen Latifah as Ellie and John Leguizamo as Sid). Other than having grade A voice talent, the music throughout the game is barely noticeable if not just plain boring. While the characters look the same as they do in the films, they are generally less detailed with muddy textures.

The story is told by cave wall paintings with the various characters like Diego, Sid and Manny telling back tales to eggs that Sid finds, belonging to a T-Rex, which he takes upon himself to adopt. From what I have read of the film, the story in the game follows it close enough to satisfy kids that will want to recreate moments from the film in game form. Other than the cave paintings, the game also features a decent number of high quality cut-scenes.

Eurocom pretty much made a standard kid’s platformer with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. You get to play as all of the main characters from Manny the Mammoth to Sid the Sloth all the way down to Scrat the Squirrel and his prospective girlfriend/walnut rival Scratte. Some of the levels you play as the Scrat the Squirrel who is constantly chasing after his nut in 2D side-scrolling platform missions. The basic object is to avoid hazards, collect items and reach the end of the level. Most of the rest of the game involves collecting various fruits (cherries, strawberries, and pears) as well as crystals (which if you collect all 16 in a set you get a trophy! Oh boy!).

To mix up the action, Eurocom employed some weapons that the characters can use. You can aim weapons with L1 on the PS3 (this locks on within a certain range) and fire with circle. Moving the right analog stick left or right will switch targets. Some of the later levels include an old 2D space shooter, while another is more like a Star Fox shooter. You can upgrade your weapons, health and buy items at a shop where you trade in cherries that you collect throughout the game. The strawberries give you health in a level. You can generally take five or six hits, depending on the character and how many times you have upgraded the health bar.

Fans of the Ice Age movie franchise will find plenty to like in the Dawn of the Dinosaurs game. All of the main characters, as well as secondary characters like the Dodo birds, are present in the game, as are most of the voice actors from the film. My main complaints are in the repetitive nature of some of the game’s platforming and ball rolling aspects, as well as the overall ease in which the game can be played. There really is no challenge here at all. It might also be noted that the game will only take about five hours to beat with very little replay value. I would say this is a good rental for the kids. If they like it then you can always invest in a used copy later.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 6.6
Written by Kyle Write a User Review