Over the Hedge - GC - Preview
The makers of Shrek and Madagascar will be launching a new animated film come May 19 – Over the Hedge, a rather charming tale of encroached wildlife striking back and foiling both an evil woman who cares nothing for the animals’ habitat and the ‘Verminator’ hired to do away with them.
While Activision’s version of Dreamworks Over the Hedge does not really follow the same story thread, the game’s release on May 9 promises to capture the essence of the film and its terrific cast of characters.
Activision held a media event recently in San Francisco to allow for some hands-on time with the game and an overview of what will be offered.
For those who do not know, the game centers on many of the characters from the film, particularly Verne (the turtle), RJ (the raccoon ringleader) and Hammy (the squirrel, who for lack of a better adjective could be termed very squirrelly - as in he seems to be on a perpetual caffeine buzz and often gets words wrong, like instead of call eagles "endangered," he calls them "engendered").
There is a staging area for the missions in the game, and players can use the corkboard located there to transition to unlocked levels as well as the minigames. While there is variation in the game style for the Nintendo DS and GBA, the consoles and PC are more along the lines of action-platform gaming with lots of combat and puzzles. The puzzles, from what was seen at the Activision event, will not have you scratching your head, but will allow you to progress through the game.
One example is outside the Verminator offices. The mission (the game is mission-based) calls for the player to get inside to rescue one of the lady animals taken captive. The evil Verminator has a mind-control device that he applies to captured animals, turning the captives into slaves ready to do his bidding – like fight the ‘good’ guys. Armed with melee weapons (the golf club is a nice little weapon as it also allows players to launch, or ‘tee up’ ranged attacks), you are tasked with battling through the minions spawned by a pair of stations at the top of the stairs.
This plays out a bit like the Gauntlet series; destroy the sentry boxes and no more enemies spawn. Then you have to pick up some crates and drop them on weight-sensitive floor panels to open the gates to enter the building.
There are zoning areas through each of the missions, so they are not seamless.
The minigames have different tracks/courses that can be unlocked and they include bumper cars, RC racing rally and range driver. The game does feature a co-op mode as well. These are all for two players on the same machine. There are more than 30 levels and four playable characters.
When it comes to the characters, they are loaded with personality – not only in speech but in animations.
With solid and easy-to-learn controls, a wonderful three-dimensional look that integrates the cutscenes flawlessly, destructible environment elements, a lot of charm and light-hearted fun, Over the Hedge looks to be the kind of game that will most certainly appeal to kids and those young at heart, in addition to fans of the movie.