Traveller’s Tales seem to have perfected the art of licensed games with their Lego Star Wars series. However, this talent has not passed over to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. It, unlike other TT games, feels quite rushed. This doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means it’s not exactly good either. Prince Caspian is one of the better movie tie-ins, but it still feels quite average.
Prince Caspian is based on the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis. It follows the story of the Pevensie siblings as they return to Narnia. In their absence, the kingdom of Narnia has been taken by the corrupt King Miraz, who stopped the rightful heir to the throne, Prince Caspian, from taking his place. The Pevensie kids set about helping Caspian to reclaim Narnia. You play as 20 different characters throughout the game, to help bring Narnia to peace again.
The game is set in many of the locales familiar to readers of the book. Aslan’s How among others all appear here and are the set piece for huge battles between the creatures and the Telmarines. The game also places the player in caves and ruins or even invading castles. Working through these areas is very linear however and there is not much exploration to be done.
One of my first gripes about the game is the way the story is told. For those who have not seen the film or have not read the book, you will get lost. The game mixes animated cutscenes with scenes from the movie and sort of “copy and pastes” them into the game, in an almost haphazard manner. It makes it almost impossible to gauge where in the story you are or how you got where you are. Another thing is that your missions aren’t clear. I got lost many times wondering what I was meant to be doing. If it wasn’t for the minimap, which handily points out objectives, I would’ve been well and truly lost. If I can’t understand what is going, how is a younger gamer meant to understand?
The gameplay is pretty simple, not surprising really since it is aimed at the younger gamer. The game compromises of simplistic puzzles, such as find the lever or piece together some machinery to open the door. The combat is your basic button mashing affair. You have two attacks and one block. It does get a bit repetitive ploughing through the Telmarines while mashing the buttons and can even become too easy when playing as a Minotaur. There are no level ups or the ability to customise your attacks which makes the game feel like it lacks depth. However, it is brilliant fun whacking hordes of Telmarines into the air as a tree or a giant.
The puzzles, as I said, are pretty simplistic and at times having to find the lever just to move another platform does get repetitive after the seventeenth time. Another annoying thing is the un-necessary button mashing when using a lever. It really is pointless and really does spoil the game. There are some nice touches implemented to the puzzles though. Some puzzles require you to swap characters, which can be done easily with a tap of the Y button. Each character has a different ability. For instance, Reepicheep can fit into small areas and the dwarves have grappling hooks which are needed to solve certain puzzles. Some puzzles show the development team did actually think about it a little, such as the puzzle where you need to manauveur two planets out of a maze by tilting the maze. The puzzles are not too hard to scare off younger games, but not too easy to bore them. For an older gamer, however, they just seem too repetitive.
As with many games aimed at younger gamers, collectibles are a big part of Prince Caspian. Littered throughout the levels are chips of varying colours, which are used to upgrade your health. There are also keys to open treasure chests which unlock extra content such as concept art. The strange thing is, when you enter the same area again, everything bar the treasure chests appear again, so you could keep coming back to an area to colect as many keys as possible.
The graphics are pretty average. There’s nothing mindblowingly great here. The levels are nicely detailed, but the caves feel extremely dark, so much so that at times you can’t even see an enemy in the gloom. I did have a framrate drop during one of the bigger battles, but it never appeared again. The camera is one of the biggest flaws in the game. On several occasions I found myself unable to see my character because the camera was looking at some wall, blocking the camera from my character. The camera is very tempromental too. It is nearly always in a fixed position, so you need to deal with the camera as well as the task at hand, which is not needed. The soundtrack for the game is fantastic. The music, plucked straight from the films, suits what is happening in the game and really adds a sense of excitement to the battles. The sound effects and voice actiong, however, are less impressive.
Prince Caspian isn’t really bad, like many other movie tie-ins, but it does have some major flaws such as the camera and reptitiveness which really let it down. It is definitely not a buy, save your money for something more worth while. It won’t take you long at all to plough through and is worth a rent for anyone looking for some easy achievements or just a game to keep their children happy.