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Bee Movie Game
Score: 72%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Racing

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in Bee Movie Game look pretty good. Although I haven't yet seen the film, they seem to mimic it quite well. Everything is bright and shiny, although some things do look blocky. Overall, characters look good and represent their movie counterparts well.

When you venture into areas outside of the hive in New York City such as flower gardens, parks, houses and city blocks, everything looks really nice. The flowers are lush and beautiful, the wasps and dragonflies menacing and the rain-drenched cityscapes foreboding. However, while inside of the hive, everything looks the same. There's a mini-map in the lower right corner to guide you in finding the different job trials (more on that later), but at some points, it didn't help me a bit and I ended up going around in circles, not being able to locate the job trial booth. This was frustrating.

I don't know whether or not the voiceovers were done by the movie's actors, but they sounded right on and could've fooled me. There weren't any voice actors listed in the credits, but they may have simply lifted clips from the movie. As for sound effects, everything buzzed appropriately. Barry quips on occasion, but it doesn't get irritating. The background music worked for the game - it picked up while Barry was in a sticky situation and calmed back down when he was floating about, pollinating things and overall, it had a nice, jazzy flavor to it.

Barry B. Benson (played by Jerry Seinfeld in the movie) is recapping his success story to a pompous newscaster and as such, we are reliving his most amazing moments through the game. He doesn't want to simply be a worker bee and is out to leave the hive and do something different. Things seem a bit confusing in the game if you haven't seen the movie (which I haven't) and there doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason as to why you are doing certain things.

Basically, the gist of Bee Movie Game is a bunch of mini-games that string together parts of the game that push the storyline forward. You'll start work at Honex and drive around to different kiosks to test out different job possibilities. You may test out taxi cab driver, race car driver, food delivery guy, honeycomb operator, crane operator and so on. Each job has several possible job trials that will be opened along the way. Once you complete the first job trial, next time you come back, the second one will be open to you. Then you might get a message that the next part of the story is available for you to see. This seemed like a timed event, as if the game was forcing you to do mini-games for about 10 minutes before you could progress the storyline. That was annoying, highly annoying. According to the manual, you can go to Barry's house and move the story along, but that's assuming you can find the damn thing.

So when you do finally get to progress more of the story, you might have things to do like battle wasps or dragonflies, you might need to annoy some humans, dodge raindrops by slowing down time with your Bee Sense, or my favorite activity, pollenating flowers where you draw pollen from healthy flowers and pollenate the withered ones. Sometimes, you'd have to do this while being attacked by flying nuisances like wasps and such, shooting them with your Pollenator. Although the control wasn't the best, it was a fun activity.

Once you complete that part of the story, it's back to the hive to wander around and do stuff until more of the story is available. There's an Arcade where you can buy old school type games that will then be available for you to play later and you can play with a friend, if you want to. The control ain't all that hot in these either, so good luck in convincing someone to play with you. You can visit the car dealership and see various cars available for purchase, although you can carjack any car you want and drive around, so there's no real point to buying one. Then you can go to the museum and see concept art and such from the game and movie, which is nice. There are lots of possible unlockables, if the museum is any indication. Finally, there's a clothing shop where you can buy new outfits for Barry with the nectar drops and honeycombs you collect throughout your progress. There are outfits available for each possible job he can try, but my favorite was the wasp costume, since they looked like old-timey pilots.

Difficulty in Bee Movie Game is set, so you can't choose a particular level. That being said, none of the mini-games or missions are impossible to accomplish. While they may require a few retries, they can be beaten. Each job type has a number of different job trials and they get successively more difficult as they go. Accomplishing one unlocks the next and so on.

What does make things difficult is the control during some parts of the game. During flight, the control is not nearly as tight as it should be. Then when they throw in enemies that you must shoot while trying to pollenate flowers, you've got a problem as poor Barry flops about attempting to do his bee job while not getting killed. During other missions, such as aggravating humans, you must buzz around their face while trying not to get swatted. Again, you end up looking like a bee having a seizure and you just feel out of control.

Probably what makes Bee Movie Game the most difficult comes in the form of the aggravation of not knowing where to go. I mentioned the mostly worthless mini-map earlier. Well, you can also press Start and View Map from there, but all you will see is a full map version of the mini-map. There are icons on the map denoting where the job trials are, etc. but the map is not clear. In other words, I saw the Honex Corporation and decided to go check out some of the latest honey-driven jobs. I saw the giant H on the map, but wandered around the area, literally on top of the "H" at one point and couldn't find the entrance. I eventually did, but as frustrated as I was, I can't imagine a child dealing with this and not throwing the controller. Then, you have to visit Barry's house to progress the storyline, although the game never tells you this - what child reads the manual, I ask you? Further, Barry's house doesn't appear on the map, although there's an icon in the booklet for it. I even enlisted some help to look for it, just in case I was overlooking it. Alas, it wasn't there. Rather than wander around the map looking for the story progression, its easier to simply turn the game off.

Game Mechanics:
In Bee Move Game, while you are in New Hive City, you can walk around using the Left Analog Stick, hover with (L2) to move a bit quicker, or if you are in a real rush, you can hop into any parked car on the street by pressing (Triangle). You can also stop driving vehicles by standing in front to hitch a ride. Once you get to a kiosk, hitting (Square) gets you into your list of job trials for that occupation or gets you into the various buildings like the Arcade or the Museum. During delivery missions, you'll have to balance items on the back of your car and you do this by tapping (L2) and (R2). In the racing or taxi missions, or just driving around, you'll use (X) to accelerate and double tap (X) to power slide.

While in New York City progressing the storyline, most of the same controls apply, however you'll use (L2) to lock on or off on flowers from which you'll extract pollen or enemies you'll knock out with pollen. Once locked on, you can tap the (L2) button to jump to the next flower or enemy or use the Right Analong Stick to switch. Once you fill up your Pollen Meter with your Pollenator, you can then pollenate withered flowers by pressing the (R2) button. This was my favorite part of the game.

During some missions, you might have to activate your Bee Vision using the (Triangle), which looks like infrared, such that the honey/nectar pickups are brightly lit, along with any flowers you need to pollenate or extract from, and enemies you need to be wary of. If you get caught in the rain, you can use your Bee Reflex by pressing the (O) button and everything appears to slow down so you can dodge deadly rain drops and make it to shelter. Again, while you are flying, the control is not so hot. You can invert the controls, but this seemed to make things worse for me, personally.

Remember the tennis ball scene that is shown so prominently in the previews for the movie? This is one scene you get to re-enact in the game as one of many Action sequences. While these do serve to break up the monotony, they can't rescue an otherwise mediocre experience. However, I must say that using Barry to control the tennis ball was a spot of fun in the game. Pressing action buttons to avoid being killed by Patrick Warburton's character? Not so much.

Basically, Bee Movie Game is just not all that much fun. If the maps were more clear or more direction was given to the player in between missions, then it would be much more fun. But wandering around a map for 20 minutes looking for the location to progress the storyline is not my idea of fun. If you have a child that fell in love with Bee Movie and wants to relive the movie in the game, then maybe give it a rent before buying to see if they like it. Otherwise, I have a really hard time recommending this game. I can see where the developers tried to stay faithful to the license, but by missing key elements like a clear map and some form of direction, they missed the mark. It's not a broken game, but it's just so mediocre and frustrating that your money is better spent elsewhere. WUMPUSJAGGER's review seemed to indicate that he enjoyed the Wii version, so maybe slinging around a Wii-mote to control Barry makes all the difference in the world.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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