Review: Look out, it's the Average-ibles!
In many circles The Incredibles movie has been called everything from "a real Oscar contender" to "the best superhero movie ever." I have yet to see this cinematic masterpiece, but the PS2 game recently crossed my desk and from many of the in-game cut scenes and actual clips from the movie I can see why it's gathering all this praise. However, the game is less Incredible and much more Basic-ible, yeah that's a word.
Not surprisingly, The Incredibles is a 3D beat 'em up where your character is expected to move from point A to point B punching, kicking and beating up everyone in your way. That's it. That's the entire game. There's some minor puzzle solving here and there, but that boils down to the old standard "flip that switch (which is on the other side of the room) to turn off the death laser." Yawn.
It's a shame because there is nothing overly bad about The Incredibles. Really, it should have plenty of things going for it. It's based on the fall's biggest movie. It features all four members of the Incredible family as playable characters. The fighting engine is fairly slick and feels very incredible. It follows the movie as closely as any game has ever followed a movie. But the game still tumbles into Average-itaville.
Like most beat 'em ups, The Incredibles is very repetitive. Over the course of the game's eighteen levels you'll fight the same henchmen and bosses over and over again. I can understand the henchmen, the fact that they're indistinguishable from each other is a superhero that goes back forever. But why would the guys at Heavy Iron think it's a good idea to fight the same bosses two and sometimes three times? And not every level even has a boss. While we're here, I should also trot out the old camera problems most 3D beat 'em ups have. In The Incredibles the camera is solid during the regular levels but swings wildly during boss fights. Often so that it faces Mr. Incredible and puts the boss somewhere off screen where it can lob bombs at you in peace.
Many beat 'em ups are able to get over this repetition with a stellar hook or constantly changing enemies and environments. Since we already know the enemies don't change, you'll probably be sorry to learn that the levels don't either. Several levels in the city. A lot of levels in the middle in a jungle. And finally a bunch of levels inside the villain's headquarters. Eighteen levels, three different environments. It almost makes me miss things like The Snow Level, The Fire Level, The Water Level, The Jungle Level (wait we've got that in spades).
Other beat 'em ups are able to overcome this problem with multiple playable characters. But wait, you'll say, The Incredibles has multiple playable characters, and that's true, it does. But when you play as Mr. Incredible through 80% of the game (and almost all of the game's first 11 levels) it's, say it with me, Boring-ible.
This is not to say that The Incredibles is terrible-ible (wait a minute...). It's a decent game, but it's so basic that are a lot of other things that aren't as frustrating and aren't as average. On top of this, for a game designed for children, the game is extremely difficult. And yes, I saw the T rating, but it's still meant to be a kid's game. It's not even that the difficulty gets ratcheted up in the last few levels. The difficulty is wildly all over the map throughout the whole game. Some levels can be a cakewalk while the next will take a determined gamer many hours. It's not a gradual progression of difficulty and that can be very frustrating for the game's target audience.
I do have to give points to The Incredibles for a very good presentation. Using the movie's voice actors in in-game cut scenes and actual clips from the movie to propel the story along is a very nice touch. All of these clips and cut scenes are also easily unlockable for later viewing as well. The graphics and music themselves could also have been pulled straight from the movie as they have an Incredible vibe to them. If nothing else, you'll come away from The Incredibles having been impressed that you could live in their world for a few hours.
Finally, the best part of the game is actually a mini-game that is unlocked about halfway through. The Battle Mode throws either Mr. Incredible or Elastigirl in the middle of a stadium and forces them to fight their way out against a never ending henchman horde. It is very fun with quick and fast action that never lets up. It is the only part of the game that can truly carry the title of Incredible.