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Shrek the Third
Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Themed

Graphics & Sound:
Shrek the Third is a fairly good port of the console versions of the same game. Visually, the PSP title loses very little detail when compared to the PS2 version. All of the characters are large and recognizable and the levels feel just as complex and detailed as the version you would find on the other systems. If anything, Shrek the Third for the PSP is just another example of how powerful the little handheld really is as far as graphical capabilities.

Shrek the Third's audio doesn't miss any beats either. Though I don't think the characters are voiced by the same actors as in the movie, the actors the game uses do pretty good imitations. Everyone from Shrek to Donkey, Puss and Prince Charming sound just as good and clear as you would expect. The game's background music has a very appropriate fairy tale, light-hearted feel to it, giving the game an overall uplifting air, while the various bang and pow sound effects from executing attacks also seem to do the trick.

The structure of Shrek the Third is pretty typical of action/platformers. You run around fairly constrained 3D levels attacking various enemies, breaking boxes and other objects to collect fairies, coins and other pickups while trying to reach some boss. I referred to the levels as "constrained 3D" because while you can move all around, there is typically a very specific path that you need to move on in order to progress. While there is room to move toward or away from the camera, it stays locked in almost a side-scroller fashion and you are almost always moving from one side of the screen to the other. In the end, this leads to very linear levels that don't require all that much exploration, but are not really boring since there is a pretty good flow of obstacles and enemies to keep you occupied.

The story of Shrek the Third follows that of the movie, mostly anyway. Where the film has Shrek and his gang roaming the globe looking for the next king of Far, Far Away, Arthur Pendragon, the game pretty much jumps to the shipwreck that occurs on the groups' trek back to Fiona's homeland (a good third of the way into the film). Now Shrek, Donkey, Puss and others will have to take down major villains like Hook and Prince Charming in order to get back to the kingdom.

Shrek the Third also sports a multiplayer mode that lets you and your opponent attempt to knock down each other's castles by lobbing various objects at them via catapults. While mildly interesting, this game has a bit of a tacked-on feel and loses luster quickly.

Shrek the Third's difficulty level shows just where this game's target audience lies. Level progression is easy, bosses have really clearly defined patterns and what puzzles there are tend to be quick to solve. All of this put together shows that Shrek the Third is geared towards kids. An experienced gamer can plow through the game's story in a matter of hours, but since this title is on a handheld, and theoretically only played while in cars or planes, it might still take a while to actually complete the game (but that all really depends on how long you will be spending in the plane or car, I guess).

Game Mechanics:
Shrek the Third's controls are easy to pick up, and the fact that the game doesn't require you to adjust the camera means the system's lack of a second analog stick doesn't get in the way. You move your character around with the nub, jump with the (X) button, use the (Square) and (Circle) buttons for attacking and activate your special move with the (Triangle). These all feel intuitive and easy to pick up.

Unless you have some need for a mobile version of Shrek (like an upcoming trip), there isn't a need to get the PSP version over any of the console ones.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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