GAME NAME: Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games
DEVELOPER(S): Behaviour Interactive
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360 (Kinect)
RELEASE DATE(S): 29 June 2012
You might be considering getting Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games. Maybe you like the movies, maybe you have a small replica of yourself who does but you really should be looking elsewhere. A movie tie-in is almost universally going to be panned (before release) but Arctic Games probably shouldn’t have even had a release day. Movie tie-in + minigames + wooden dialogue + crap visuals = Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games.
In case you’re looking for more than a paragraph’s worth of review, here’s the game. Manny, Diego, Sid and an assortment of family members (the Herd) are strolling along when Sid (being Sid) falls down a hill and discovers a giant acorn filled with fruit. At about the same time a bunch of pirates (the Crew) pitch up and claim the
treasure fruit for themselves and they need to settle things in the old pirate manner. With some Arctic games, that is. Weird pirates, but anyway…
What follows is ten minigames cobbled together with cutscenes – in the single player campaign at least. We’ll get to the actual games in a moment because something needs to be said about the cutscenes (and visuals in general). Arctic Games looks as though is was made by a company specialising in cheap knock-offs. The graphics quality, both in-game and in cutscenes, comes nowhere near that seen in the motion picture and the dialogue used sounds as though it was either phoned in by the voice actors or lifted from movie outtakes and spliced together. You’d think that a game based on a computer-animated movie would at least have access to some of that animation but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
The minigames are standard fare. Ski jumping, slalom, catapulting acorns at targets and sliding down a hill on your posterior all make an appearance but there isn’t much that wasn’t seen when the Wii Balance Board was released, since a lot of the Arctic minigames are themed reskins of some of Nintendo’s snow-based Wii Fit offerings. There is some amusement to be found in one minigame starring Scrat the squirrel, which involves plugging holes in a leaking glacier, but this is extremely short-lived. As is the rest of the game.
Players have the option of the Story mode, a Free mode where they can play each event individually or a Tournament mode which lets a second player take on the role of either the Herd or Crew and play through the Story mode (minus the cutscenes, which is pointless no matter how much the in-game menu thinks a story mode can dispense with the actual story). Playing with two players will require taking turns however since Ice Age 4 apparently cannot handle more than one person at a time. The games are over fast and the lifetime of Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games is too short, even if the person playing the game is of the child persuasion. Unless you chase Achievements or have the mentality of an acorn-crazed prehistoric squirrel there is little incentive to hit the Free mode and try for a golden acorn award.
It is hard to fault Arctic Games on a technical level. The Kinect controls are functional, as are the menus, though it can be a little oversensitive at times. There are few gameplay bugs, which isn’t really positive when the gameplay is so drab and derivative. What is weird is that this is a multiplatform release, with no indication that the gameplay has changed at all, making the use of Kinect controls seem gimmicky at best. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games may be aimed at kids but, honestly, even a four-year-old is used to higher standards in gaming across the board. It only manages the score that it did because there’s nothing obviously broken about it. It’s just crap.