The curse of the animated film video-game adaptation is strong. It’s almost fascinating to try and think of a decent example. This isn’t necessarily a bad omen, since these have a tendency for being popular with a younger audience. However, will Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games end up being just another casualty of this phenomenon?
As the name implies, story mode is about a set of events that make up the Arctic games. The player then chooses to side with the Herd or the Pirates. It doesn’t really matter which side is picked, since they don’t have unique features. Going through story mode is pretty much down to viewing a cut scene, and then playing an event. This is repeated until all events are played, and the winning team is crowned.
It’s a shame considering that the story isn’t so bad. Both teams are competing to see which one of them ends up with some supplies. The cuts scenes in between events are quite enjoyable, and often contain the characters interacting with each other in amusing ways.
Each event has a different objective as the Arctic Games are like an animated version of the Olympic Games. Unfortunately this is where the similarities end. At first, events are actually quite enjoyable to play through. Then they start to become dull to the point that it’s not even remotely enjoyable.
Perhaps it is down to the fact that the requirement for winning most events is beating a set score. So it means that it’s almost as if the other team isn’t there for most of the Arctic Games. The few events where the other team is seen playing are more exciting. However, it doesn’t hide the fact that the player is beating set times for most of the story mode.
Oddly enough, the default controls make use of the PlayStation 3 controller’s motion sensor features. This is a strange decision given how unreliable they are when playing just about every event. Trying to move is turned into a difficult task, since it will often result in moving too fast in one direction. Fortunately there is the option to use traditional controls that makes it much easier to play events.
Even for a video-game aimed at a younger audience, this is rather too easy. Winning each of the events isn’t particularly difficult. The only challenge comes from how some events are played. One of the weakest events, called Prehistoric Plumber, is a real nightmare to come to grips with. It basically involves using both analogue sticks to try and plug holes forming on an ice block. This is no easy feat, due to the fact that it is unusually challenging to place the furry character’s trembling hands, over the holes that need plugging,. It’s one of the many odd decisions found throughout the game.
There are some enjoyable events though, such as Coconut Sling, which involves throwing coconuts at floating targets. It’s often the simpler events that end up being the ones that players will enjoy the most. Sadly, as mentioned before, it all ends far too soon. There are only ten events to play through. It literally takes less than an hour to finish story mode.
This becomes an issue when the other modes available pretty much consist of being able to player against another player, or just playing a single event. There are some collectable items to find in events, but these only unlock still images from the animated film. It’s disheartening to think that it wasn’t even possible to have a couple more events.
Visually, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games is not aimed at impressing anyone that plays it. It doesn’t necessarily look dated, but it’s not going to win anyone over either. The same applies to the sound, since there isn’t a great deal of music tracks to listen.
It’s easy to see that Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games is being marketed with a younger audience in mind. But it’s difficult to even recommend it as a video-game that children will enjoy. It’s simple enough to make it easy for anyone to play. However, it is incredibly short and there isn’t much to enjoy at all. Perhaps only those that liked watching the films can get some kicks out of watching the story cut scenes.
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games feels like a half-hearted attempt – that hopefully was still halfway through development when being pushed for release – which sadly continues the grim tradition of awful animated film video-game adaptations.