My groan at the thought of reviewing a Movie to Game offering could be heard from here to the Mississippi. My experience is that most are thrown together quickly with little thought to playability so that the game release can coincide with the movie release-it’s all about money, right? In the case of Over the Hedge, I was pleasantly surprised.
I saw the movie yesterday; it’s quite good as well-so that I could explain how the game tells the story of the movie. The game doesn’t seem to follow the sequence of the movie. leaving one a bit confused if you are playing the game before watching the movie. Over the Hedge is about R.J. the raccoon, who in the course of doing what raccoons do-pilfer-attempts to relieve a bear named Vincent of his supply of junk food while Vincent is hibernating. He piles it all in a little red wagon, while R.J. is sneaking out of Vincent’s cave, Vincent wakes up and busts R.J. in the act. The wagon rolls down a hill and is destroyed by a truck, along with the food. Vincent then gives R.J a week to replace all of the food, or Vincent will eat him. R.J. then gets the bright idea to do his pilfering the easy way-he has found a subdivision full of food, however he needs a little help from some friends. He then enlists the help of a group of other critters, who live in a little oasis of grass in the middle of the subdivision, which is surrounded by an enormous hedge (hence Over the Hedge) to help him gather the food. The quest begins-.
The game played out through several sequences-then becomes a hub-type game, such as Crash Bandicoot, where you can choose players, go on missions, try on hats and view the obligatory movie clips (these are always in the movie to game genre) that you’ve collected throughout the game, etc. In sequences before the hub section, the characters you play as are pre-determined, after that, the player can choose the character.
The character models and animations are outstanding. It looks as if you are playing the cartoon. The voice acting is above average as well; however it was a bit disappointing that the actors from the movie did not voice the characters in the game. Controls are tight, the camera does a good job of keeping up in co-op mode as well-and anyone who loves co-op knows this is usually where games of this type fall flat.
The gameplay is straightforward. You’re given an objective to complete, whether it’s fetching food or rescuing opossum children, while avoiding traps and flogging rats with the weapon of your choice-I prefer the golf club. which hyper Hammy can swing fast and furious. In some sections with a trap to disarm, Hammy the squirrel enters the picture, and a button press/memory game begins.
I played the entire game using the 2-player co-op, using R.J (raccoon), Hammy (squirrel) and Verne (turtle). This is an area where the game shines; the co-op mode is a hoot. You can run, jump, sneak, use weapons such as golf clubs, guns (not the GTA type, but the Ping Pong shooting type-) and assist by jumping on top of the other character-this is also fun to do to the other player while they are not paying attention-. You can also lock on to your enemy, another plus with co-op. The only thing which hampered the 2-player was not being able to zoom in on the action, perhaps I just need the eyesight I had when I was 10?
Difficulty wise, it’s a little on the easy side, which taking into consideration this is a game directed towards kids, wasn’t a big shocker. However, there is a lot to do here, so the game isn’t annoyingly short.
If you’re expecting a heavy storyline with complicated characters, Over the Hedge is not your cup o’ tea-it’s a morality tale, the good guys are good, the bad guys are bad-and a happy ending is inevitable. However I don’t agree that this is for Kids Only, in fact it’s a perfect game for a parent who enjoys gaming with the kids, as this one is not only fun for the kids, but fun for the parents as well.