The number of impressive movie tie-in games can probably be counted on your fingers. The same can be said for impressive “Kinect required” games, so when you play Ice Age 4 Continental Drift Arctic Games – a combination of both – what do you get apart from a game with probably the longest title ever?
Unfortunately things are disappointing right from the start, with the cut scenes looking very low quality resulting in very poorly animated versions of your arctic pals adorning your screen. At least all of the characters have been voiced by the very same actors that voice them in the films, although, based on the enthusiasm that comes across at times, it sounds like some of them didn’t relish recording additional lines for the title. When this is the first thing you see and hear on screen it makes it very hard not to brand Arctic Games as anything more than another shameless cash- in.
The story isn’t actually from the film but the game borrows enough elements from the Ice Age series to keep fans happy. instead the story centres around members of The Herd (the good guys) and The Crew (the pirate styled bad guys) competing in the age old pirate tradition of…..ummm…..errr…..The Arctic Games. The Arctic Games are – at their heart – various Winter Olympic style mini games with the reward of treasure for the winning team. By treasure the game means an elephant sized acorn full of fruit – Don’t ask.
As for the Kinect implementation, it’s the same old story. The Kinect controls work well most of the time but utterly fail you when it truly counts. The majority of the mini-games are simple affairs with the main motions for the games being swinging your arms followed by leaning, crouching and jumping. Three of the games however, are much more complex, these being the Ice Breaker game, the Scrat Bonus game and the Speed Run game. On a traditional controller of any kind these games would be extreamly simple but with the Kinect it’s almost impossible to control your character with any degree of accuracy or in fact predict where you will stop or jump.
There are three game modes in total, the Story mode which sees you control either The Herd or The Crew in a head to head battle against the A.I. in all of the mini-games. The Free Play mode which allows you to play each game individually and is great for practicing any of the events – not that you will need it. Finally there’s the Tournament mode which plays out in the exact same way as the Story mode but allows you to play a friend.
A full play through of the Story mode can be completed in 30 minutes – as long as the Kinect picks up your movements correctly every time. After this the game has very little to offer apart from achievement and trophy hunting.
Arctic Games certainly does hold some initial interest for kids. It looks and sounds like the Ice Age movies enough to immerse them and the games would be enough of challenge to keep them coming back to beat their previous score for a couple of weeks. However, its brevity and overall quality is an issue that can’t be ignored. In essence, with its ridiculously short singleplayer game, this title is more of an interactive trailer for the movie than an actual game and I would have expected it to have been released as a XBLA title rather than a full priced physical game.
The painful truth is that Ice Age 4 Continental Drift Arctic Games is a shining example of everything I didn’t want for Kinect. The compendium of mini games I got when I bought the Kinect, Kinect Adventures, was more engaging with more longevity. Although it can be recommended for people with kids in the house in order to extend their enjoyment of the ice Age series, but for the rest of us, finding a selling point on this title is a mammoth task.
MLG Rating: 3/10 Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3 Release Date: 29/06/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Ice Age 4 Continental Drift Arctic Games by the promoter for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an Xbox 360 with Kinect. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.