Summer is often considered to be the calm before the storm of pre-Christmas releases, and 2012 is no different. Aside from a couple of big names, the season has been dominated by budget releases and movie tie-ins, including Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games.
As the name suggests, the title consists of ten mini-games, which has Manny, Sid, Diego and the rest of the group racing down snowy mountains, flinging acorns at targets and pulling shapes as they launch themselves through the sky. Each of the mini-games utilizes the Kinect technology and has players moving their arms and feet, as well as jumping and ducking - very similar to those evident in Kinect Adventures.
Unfortunately, this is the beginning of the game’s many problems. A number of the mini-games require precision, something that cannot be achieved on the over-sensitive nature of the controls. However, on the other hand, sometimes it’s not responsive enough, as players will find themselves constantly adjusting to try and fit into the shapes the game throws at them – which almost seem impossible.
Throughout the majority of the mini-games, there are acorns to be collected. Collecting acorns betters the player’s score, either by taking time off (during timed events) or adding to the score. Furthermore, gold, silver and bronze acorns are the game’s equivalent of medals. Whereas the majority of gold acorns are easy to achieve, the problematic controls make a few of the events almost impossible to even get a bronze acorn.
Ice Age 4 contains three game modes in total: Story, Tournament and Free Play. On selection of each, the player is prompted to choose between the two sides: herd or pirates. Ultimately, the choice comes down to preference as the only difference is the appearance, rather than skills/abilities.
As you would expect for a game aimed at a young audience, the game’s storyline is very easy to follow. After Sid and the rest of the herd come across the pirates’ secret treasure, the two groups decide to split the treasure through a series of sporting events, with the winner of the most events taking the prize.
The story itself doesn’t really have any depth to it and this is reflected in the cutscenes, which simply show members of each team taunting each other and don’t add anything to the plot. There’s a great group of characters in the game, but their full potential hasn’t really been achieved.
In addition, the cutscenes are badly rendered and don’t make for pleasant viewing. The in-game graphics are an improvement, though they certainly aren’t up to the quality of other titles on this generation of gaming.
Furthermore, on the development front, the cutscenes feature a number of the voice actors from the film, which is a nice touch. Aside from that, quite disappointingly, the remainder of the game contains repetitive dialogue and sound effects that is enough to set the volume to mute.
Tournament mode is very similar to the Story game mode with the addition of multiplayer support for up to two players locally. As with most Kinect titles, Ice Age 4 splits the screen and requires a lot of room space. Meanwhile, Free Play allows for players to choose a standalone event to play out of the ten on offer.
Overall, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift – Arctic Games is a major disappointment. The unresponsive controls, the weak storyline and the poorly executed ideas are just a few of the reasons why this game isn’t enjoyable, not even for kids. This is a title to avoid at all costs.
David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.