Ice Age: Continental Drift – Arctic Games
DS | Activision / beHAVIOUR | 1-2 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now
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27th July 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
Ice Age: Continental Drift - Arctic Games has you choosing the side of heroes or villains in participation of a territorial competition. Manny, Scrat, and the rest of the gang band together to go up against Captain Gutt and his pirate crew so they can take home a coveted prize; it doesn't get any plainer than that. Short movies with low-to-medium resolution offer a loose story to tie together the events that make up the competition, with actors from the movie contributing their voice acting talents for the cast of characters. But as it is just cocky banter being thrown around at the beginning and end of each round, it's nothing worth paying attention to. There are some ten events which not only serve as the entirety of the mild proceedings, but really the whole game. While the process will vary depending on the event, your goal is always either to get to the end of a course as quickly as possible, or achieve the highest score with set time or supply restrictions. Acorns scattered about serve as bonuses and can either add to your overall score or reduce the total amount of time taken in the case of timed events. Before I say anything about the events themselves, know that there is a simple explanation for the lack of broad detailing on the remaining consistency.
Now then, many of the events seen here boil down to three types of challenges: racing, dexterity, and platforming. In Bob-Smashing and Slip Slide, the D-Pad is used to direct your character as you head down a tunnel-based obstacle course. As an example of the second, Coconut Slingshot has you dragging down with the stylus to launch projectiles at targets attached to icebergs that come in from both sides of the screen. Also somewhat similar in the skills required, players will use stylus swipes in Scrat Cannon to guide the hyper squirrel as he bounces from trampoline to trampoline across icy waters. As for the third set of tasks, Glacier Hopping is just a simple 2D side-scrolling activity where jump across platforms of ice to get to the goal on your far right. Ice Smash is the same except that you're heading downwards and have to use the B Button to smash through cracked areas and reach lower levels. Other events that don't fall under these main categories include a ski slalom, a shuffleboard activity, a ski jump where you use the stylus to perform tricks whilst in the air, and one where you have to crawl over to leaks and plug them as they appear on the Touch Screen. For most of these, I found the controls to be functional and fairly easy for those younger in years to get the hang of, with the only exception being the cannon launch as its pace makes it less user-friendly than all the rest.
A few minor concerns aside, the design isn't poor. Sure, they may not be your idea of a good time, but they are technically in order. However, I strongly feel that what's been put out on the table here is so safe it reaches a point of laziness. Whether comparing it to other recent licensed games or just family-oriented titles that have released in the past couple years, Ice Age: Continental Drift - Arctic Games feels so quickly slapped together. It is as if the team nonchalantly opened up a kitchen cupboard, poured out a small pile of salt, and said, "Here. This'll hold you over 'till dinner." Really, if you were hungering for just about anything before you came into this, you'll get the same out of it in return. Absolutely nothing is sought after in terms of long-term appeal, and with the bulk of the events coming across as weak efforts with little-to-no enjoyment, the foundation is indeed far too slippery to stand on.
The way things are presented isn't all that great either. The story cutscenes are decent for what they are, especially considering that they could have easily just used stills instead. But when you get into the gameplay, you'll find some of the character models to be somewhat poor-looking, fairly minimal detailing is present with respect to the backgrounds, portions of the environment flicker or just have a grainy appearance, and the audio, while not bad in the music department, is repetitive in the case of the voice clips. In terms of how the modes are laid out, you have the main Story component, a Tournament Mode, and a Free Play option, with the latter two allowing support for multiplayer play. But I am not kidding when I say that you can easily see everything there is to see in 30 minutes or less, which only further evidences just how empty the game is. There's no sense of victory here at all, and with the nature of the competition being as flat as it is in the scheme of things, there's no hiding that Ice Age: Continental Drift - Arctic Games doesn't achieve any sort of standard in its execution.
With not one sign of moving in a direction that would so much as imply concerted effort, beHAVIOUR has put out one really weak offering in Ice Age: Continental Drift - Arctic Games. It is one that shines a bright light of skepticism on the team's belief in their work, bears no qualities worthy of consideration, and demonstrates an out-of-touch mindset over how videogames have developed as a medium over the years. Add to all that a lightning-fast length that will leave anyone with strong feelings of disappointment, this is a game that truly does not deliver in any capacity.
12/30 - Very Poor
Gameplay 4/10 - Functional activities, decent controls, flat and empty, does not meet certain expectations, really safe design to the point of being lazy
Presentation 5/10 - Not especially great, compressed movies, elements range in quality from decent to poor, music isn't bad, repetitive voice clips
Enjoyment 2/5 - Very minimal amounts of fun to be had, feels very slapped together, even more disappointing when you factor in the price tag
Extra Content 1/5 - Ten events in total, multiplayer options available, can see all there is to see in such a quick amount of time
Equivalent to a score of 40% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System