The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Gamers don't expect a lot from games based on mediocre
DreamWorks films. While Rise of the Guardians is built on a solid foundation of
hack-and-slash action and co-op multiplayer, the simplicity and monotony of the
gameplay quickly becomes obvious.
Rise of the Guardians allows up to four players to take
control of Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth
Fairy in their quest to overthrow the nightmare-inducing super villain Pitch. The
childhood legends have gotten a serious dose of 'tude since you last saw them; North
(a.k.a. Santa) has "Naughty" and "Nice" tattoos on his arms and speaks with a
Russian accent. Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny) is now Australian for some reason.
He throws boomerangs at his foes and says annoying one-liners like, "You just
Don't expect the charm or production values of the movie,
however. The cutscenes are the cheapest example of animated storyboards I've
ever seen in a game; I doubt young kids would even recognize who the characters
are supposed to be, or be interested at all in the story the sparse cutscenes
are attempting to rehash.
On the plus side, the in-game assets fare much better, and
the gameplay provides some simple fun. You can cycle between all five
characters on the fly by pressing left or right on the D-pad, and each
character has three unique special attacks that can be unlocked as you level
up. You also have a handful of stats to upgrade for each character, and unlockable
gems that provide passive bonuses.
Much of this is largely inconsequential, however. The
variety in the special attacks is nice, but rarely did I ever have to do
anything other than mash a single button to defeat my opponents. I never even
used the block button other than the one time the tutorial prompted me to try
it out. After maxing out the strength and speed abilities and equipping a few
gems for each character (which took an hour or two tops), leveling up didn't
matter much either.
Rise of the Guardians' five realms are the most interesting
aspect of the game, as each one has a unique visual style based on its
character. You can visit them in any order you choose, though your missions are
always the same, and involve either killing a bunch of shadow enemies in a
given location or picking up a collectible. All of the mission types are devoid
of challenge; I only fell once during combat, which required me to use one of
the three of revives you have at your disposal at any given time.
All of the missions are location-based, and you can
undertake or ignore them as you see fit. A penchant for completionism had me
100-percenting every level – as a result, I unlocked and completed the final
(and underwhelming) boss battle before even stepping foot in two of the five
realms. I returned to the game for another hour or two of grinding to finish
everything off, but it didn't add anything to the story – or my sense of
achievement, for that matter. All in all, you complete the game in an
afternoon, without much reason to worry about the leftover objectives or
Perhaps my most damning criticism is Rise of the Guardians
is that it isn't more fun with co-op partners. The mind-numbing gameplay left
us steamrolling our enemies in silence, and didn't really speed up the combat
over playing with the mostly competent AI allies. Co-op also introduced an
occasional stutter in the frame rate.
Rise of the Guardians isn't entirely unpleasant, but even if
you're looking for a co-op game that's safe for the whole family, you can find
better options on the market.
Email the author Jeff Marchiafava, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.