Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life Review

Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life Screenshot - 813987

If you own a gaming console, chances are low that you operate in complete harmony with nature. Still, we sometimes try to convince ourselves otherwise. The good folks at National Geographic have collaborated with D3Publisher of America – yes, that is their real name – to bring us Nat Geo Challenge! Wildlife. With this wallet-friendly number in your gaming library, you can lend an air of culture and science to your living room, utterly fooling visitors that you are a learned man. Or woman.

Pop the disc in and the ruse becomes a bit more precarious. Nat Geo Challenge is constructed as a game, first and foremost. The actual content isn’t quite sophisticated enough to impress its audience, however. The good news is, they might not notice, as the game is intended to encourage interaction with up to four players. There is also support for the Playstation Move, but this alone is not really a great reason to purchase the game, contrary to what others might like you to believe.

Players are guided through a variety of gametypes, lending a casual “party game” feel to the experience. Cerebral gamers might be bothered by the limited academic scope of the game modes, though; some modes include anagrams and jigsaw puzzles, while another employs questionable cards that include arbitrary “stats” for animals. Having an “ugliness” rating is bad enough, but using one here seems like blatant anthropocentrism.

The real meat lies in the high quality media, of course. Thousands of high resolution photographs have been culled from National Geographic’s extensive library, as well as 90 minutes of HD video footage. The interaction here usually is restricted to simple recall; the video will play, then the game will ask something about what you just saw. It’s not the most engaging way to educate, but it does encourage you to pay attention. Maybe this has some applicability in the treatment of attention deficit disorders.

The vast quantity of games and questions does help to prolong the staying power of Nat Geo Challenge. Unfortunately, you really have to get into these gametypes in order for the experience to be worthwhile. For the modern nature lover, this might be one of the easiest (and safest) ways to get in touch with your wild side. At least if “wild” means “solving anagrams on your gaming console."

Above Average

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Dan Liebman
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