reviews\ Dec 18, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Island Xtreme Stunts - PC - Review

In my day (as a kid), I was only given a generic box of Lego bricks with the occasional odd shaped pieces to make roofs and landscapes. Now, Lego has complete kits of all types, including the inclusion of people. Yes, Lego people with painted faces and everything. They even reach into the world of movies (Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc) and outer space. In my humble opinion, in doing so, they take away a child's imagination. Going one step further, Lego has teamed with Electronic Arts to bring the world of brick-fun to your PC. Some things just weren't meant to be tinkered with.  

Extreme Island Stunts is a mix of many games. It is definitely a kid's game, but tries very hard to throw in a lot of different ways to get entertainment. In the modern world of non-virtual Lego, there is a series of "Island Extreme" sets utilizing a character called "Pepper Brickolini". What they have done is blend games like "Stunt Man" and a slew of other titles such as Tony Hawk and name-your-own "X" title. You know the ones.... Xtreme sports of whatever kind. I am surprised they didn't find a way to include snowboarding, but since it takes place on a tropical isle, I guess that one will wait. 

Lego, in it's live-playing genre, has created a whole world around Pepper and his kooky adventures against the evil "Brickster". In the toy sets, you can collect Brickster pieces and various trendy Extreme sets for Pepper to utilize. With these, and your imagination, you can have Pepper saving the day over and over. 

Enough of the history. The game follows the same motif, though with some of the afore mentioned familiar game action. Your first task, in fact, is a race in which you must pursue Brickster and smash into his car until it is inoperable. This is a Crazy Taxi looking race... but also any other kind of racer you could mention would fit as well. This is a times event, and it is being filmed. Hence, the hook of the whole game. Pepper is a (young) stunt man. His various tasks are assigned to him by the director. You can get your assignments from the star-dazzling board that posts the events and times. In the meantime, you can tour the island and get into other mischief-- just don't miss your curtain call. 

The first race was too easy. The second task was too easy. The third one was... well... easy. In between, as mentioned, you can cruise around the island looking for bricks and objects to collect. You can talk to various characters that praise you, or generally just annoy you. There isn't much point to talking to most of them. You won't learn a great deal. 

One of the nicest things was Pepper's great swimming ability. He can leap out of the water to collect objects that are floating above sea level. I really don't mean that to sound like a negative thing, but it was surreal... but hey-- he's Pepper!! 

Your vehicles include (Lego) cars, jet skis, skateboards, etc. Land, sea and air-- it's all here. They can be altered somewhat, in order to appeal to the Lego purist that wants to feel like they have some control in the game. In addition to the movie-making stunt events, there are puzzles and places to explore or conquer. He will encounter Brickster's robots throughout the game. Yawn. Pepper is a busy dude, for sure.  Just talking to other characters can involve starting new missions on the side. You may also create things with your bricks-- a la the "home version" that we've grown up with. 

It's worth mentioning again that this is a kid's game, so I am giving it some slack. However, I don't think it has a lot of playability. There is a technical irritation in which it takes TOO long to switch from scene to scene. I don't imagine a younger player having that kind of patience. Expect mindless button-pushing and frustration as you wait. Like pushing the button over and over in a slow elevator. 

The graphics were sub-par for the potential of a PC game. Though, the minimum system requirements are low as well. This isn't Unreal Championship, after all. The voice acting from the Lego people was bad. The director sounds like a stereotypical Hollywood fancy-pants. Like Dom DeLuise with a broken jaw. The use of non-keyboard controls is allowed, though I never got my "AR Labs" controller to work. I did not try my MS Sidewinder, and instead stuck with the frustrating keyboard movements. NOT a pleasant experience for finesse playing.

I have to say that a kid might get some fun out of the game overall, but the slow action transitions and too much inaction may turn some of them away. I really got tired of the slow screen loads, and I surpassed the system requirements. If the child gets through those annoyances, they have some uneventful gameplay to look forward to. The competitions are so easy, I can not imagine them being much of a challenge to any age range. Sorry, Lego, some things are best left in their original form. Give me the generic box of blocks and a rainy afternoon any day!!

Gameplay: 6
Too easy and too much walking around in down-time. There wasn't enough reward for the pace and weak challenges. 

Graphics: 5.5 
Except for some cut scenes, the graphics were as good as older DOS based games at times. There were blocky objects and some glitches when objects touched each other. 

Sound: 5.5
Nothing about the sound stuck in my head-- in a good way. It was "just there". Some high-octane music and lame voice acting. Dialogs sounded stiff and did not advance the game much at all. 

Difficulty: Easy
Easy to play.... harder to keep playing. 

Concept: 5 
They took a toy line and made it into a game with the same thought process. At least my generic green Army Men were given a fun video face lift and action. This seasoned toy franchise just stuck out a product that did not make it worth moving away from the "real thing". 

Multiplayer: N/A 

Overall: 6
I wish I could say better things about a toy franchise that I worshipped years ago. But, this is just warmed-over soup in a gaming world that's serving up filet mignon and lobster. I'd advise a buyer to skip the video game aisle for this one, and grab a collection of the non-cyber toys and let the youngsters use their brains for a few hours.... instead of staring and slow load screens waiting for their next chance at mediocrity. Sorry, Lego... I am still a fan, but will get my kicks from bricks. What's next.....  virtual Lincoln Logs and landscape designing??

Above Average

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