Stop me if you
heard this one.
For almost every
summer blockbuster movie there’s a video game tie-in that ultimately does not
measure up to the greatness of the blockbuster in question. We’ve seen it before
in countless Batman movies and we’ve seen in with before with Disney’s The
Chronicles of Narnia. The movie-to-video-game transition rarely produces a
game that is richly original and makes good use of the license. Sadly, in the
case of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian for the PlayStation 3,
this is not the case. Still, while it’s not a completely original game, there is
still some fun to be had in the world C.S. Lewis created and Disney creatively
Soldier #1 to Soldier #2: “You
didn’t expect to see this when you woke up this morning, huh?”
chronologically speaking, it is the fourth book and the second film featuring
the Pevensie kids. The story finds, Lucy, Susan, Edmond and Peter returning to
Narnia after a year’s absence only to find that 1,300 years have passed in
Narnia time. As the red dwarf Trumpkin says, “Narnia is a more savage place than
you remember it.” This is true seeing as humans known as Telmarines have wiped
out most of the magical creatures of Old Narnia and the heir to the throne – a
young man named Prince Caspian – is double-crossed by his evil uncle. It is up
to the Pevensie siblings to help Prince Caspian reclaim his throne from King
Miraz to bring peace to the land once again.
The beauty of
Prince Caspian is that the game attempts to bring to light the events
leading up to movie by showcasing the major battle that had the good creatures
of Narnia tuck tail and hide in the woods. The game even includes a few clips of
footage not seen in the movie such as young Prince’s tutor telling Caspian about
the legend of the old queens and kings of the land. It then brings the events of
the movie into light with footage from the movie as well as re-enacting the
fierce and ultra cool battles of the film. In other words, this game set out to
be the complete Prince Caspian experience that pays homage to the book
and theatrical sequel.
Still, as I
mentioned above, the game rarely brings much originality to the table and
Traveler’s Tales (having done justice to Star Wars via LEGOs) simply makes the
game a button-masher with very little variety. Well, there are a few things that
do keep this game from being a truly boring mess. Worst yet, on the PS3, there’s
some slow down that shows up occasionally during the more massive battles in the
game. This is really too bad seeing as the game allows you to assume the role of
20 different characters which include Narnians as well as the Pevensie kids.
The game’s levels
are quite lengthy and you will be tasked with multiple objectives you must
complete as well as do a little collecting on the side. You are given four
different characters you can control and you can switch between them on the fly
via the Triangle button. In the opening level you can control a dwarf, fawn,
centaur or a Minotaur but later in the game you can control familiar characters
like the Pevensie quartet or Prince Caspian and his companions. Each character,
of course, has his or her own unique ability and skill. Susan, for example, has
a bow while Peter is a master swordsman. Some characters are even used to solve
puzzles. For example, dwarfs and the swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep can fit
throughout small spaces the bigger characters can’t pass.
“Man, what is it about me that
makes people want to run away? It must be my cologne.”
While it’s great
that each of the 20 characters play differently, this does not keep the action
as well as the mission objectives from becoming too repetitive. Some mission
objectives you’ll have to complete more than once and a few other objectives are
similar from earlier ones issued in the beginning of the level. How many times
must we clear a courtyard before we can move on to other objectives? Some
objectives are very clear while others are somewhat vague. Early in the game I
was instructed to destroy catapults brought in by the enemy. It didn’t say I had
to jump on a giant’s back to complete such a task until a bit later.
biggest problem has to be the slowdown that becomes evident during the much
bigger battles in the game. While it was great to see so many Telmarines and
Narnian warriors on screen at once, the dip in the framerate is inexcusable
seeing as the PS3 is more than capable of displaying many characters on screen
at once without sacrificing a steady framerate. Secondly, collecting keys that
unlock chests (that ultimately unlock concept art and video clips) can become a
bit tedious. Even the game’s two-player co-op mode is a lesson in frustration
thanks to the limited screen space you and a friend share.
All is not bad in
the world of Narnia, though, because there are moments in the game that manages
to be fun. Attempting to reclaim a castle leads to one of the game’s best
moments and even the final battle is epic to the point that sections of it will
give you quite a workout. Younger gamers will appreciate the fact that the
game’s puzzles are actually quite simplistic. Most of the puzzles simply have
you switching levers or placing a necessary object in its corresponding area.
On the graphics
front, Prince Caspian could have looked a lot better. This is not a
hideous game, by any means, but the PS3 could do a lot better than this. At
least, the character models look good in action and you’ll instantly recognize
many of the familiar characters like the Pevensie bunch and Prince Caspian
himself. There are clips from the movie (as well as some that aren’t) and the
video looks wonderfully crisp and clear like a Blu-Ray DVD.
“Mess with this bull and you get the horns
… and sword … oh, and I have a bad case of fleas.”
As far as the
game’s sound is concerned, the battles don’t sound as good as they should
considering the amount of things that are happen on screen at once. There are
some limited voice clips in the beginning but you’ll hear more from the main
cast of characters as they go about their mission. What steals the show is the
marvelous soundtrack that plays throughout the game. The score is not only epic
but it adds a lot of tension to each battle and cut scene.
of Narnia: Prince Caspian
for the PlayStation 3 had all the makings of a great game but,
sadly enough, fails to do anything original with the licensed. In short,
Prince Caspian is simple a button-mashing hack-and-slash action game that –
at times – can be fun in places. Still, this is the type of game fans of the
movie or book will simply pick up and play and forget about as soon as the end
credits roll. I recommend this one simply as a rental is you’re in need of a
Narnia fix but other than that you are better off just buying the book or
going back to the movie theater to see it again.
same tower once again or holding the enemy away from the courtyard for the
second time is not a good way of keeping the action fresh. You can switch
between characters on the fly but this is purely just hack-and-slash gameplay
with only a few interesting gameplay elements.
On the PS3, the
visuals don’t push the hardware but at least it’s not entirely bad either. The
character models look Ok and seeing dozens of Telmarine soldiers on screen at
once is awesome. Even the movie clips are crisp. I just wish more attention was
placed on the backgrounds and the special effects like fire.
music is not only downright gorgeous but it is also the highlight of the game’s
sound. The few voice clips you hear are decent enough but why doesn’t a massive
battle sound like a – well – a massive battle?
massive battles that should have you worried because every other battle isn’t
very threatening. There are occasionally vague objectives to complete even
though many of the puzzles are extremely easy to solve.
different characters to play, there is some variety to the action but this is
spoiled by level objectives that repeat themselves again and again. Switching
between characters is a good idea but can we have better rewards during battle
or for opening treasure chests?
online multiplayer in sight but there’s a two-player co-op mode. Sadly, co-op
runs with a number of hiccups and sharing the same screen has its major
disadvantages plus there’s very little for another player to do.
Far from being
a complete disaster, Prince Caspian for the PS3 has some good moments but
they are overshadowed by repetitive gameplay and a poor presentation. Fans of
the movie and book will like playing in the land of Narnia but much unlike the
two mediums this game makes the story a forgettable experience.