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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

Vivendi

 

Developer

Eurocom

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

April 2006

 

- Great looking graphics

- Authentic voices and music

- Tight controls

 

 

- Typical ďcollect a bunch of itemsĒ gameplay

- Pretty short and easy

 

 

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Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

When the Playstation 2 was first announced, Sony was quick to proclaim that it could produce ďToy StoryĒ caliber graphics. Naturally, given the first generation of PS2 software, this was a huge joke, but weíve come a long way. The video game rendition of Ice Age 2: The Meltdown still doesnít quite meet the high water mark of looking exactly like its big screen cousin but at times, it comes close.

 

ice age 2          ice age 2

 

Iím not sure how closely software developer Eurocom worked with animation studio Blue Sky to create this game, but they did a damn fine job. All of the main characters look pretty decent, even if their animations arenít nearly as detailed. But the most important character is Scrat, the squirrel/rat thing that you control most of the game. He runs, flips, and scurries up cliffs with the same charisma that made him the mascot of the movie. His cute and weird little sound effects add to the authenticity, as do the voice talents of John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, and Ray Romano, all reprising their roles specifically for the game. The landscapes arenít particularly varied Ė there are some snowy mountains, some less snowy mountains, some caves and some swamps, but they look great, and the framerate runs at a steady clip.

 

Plenty of effort was put into making the game look and feel great, but they didnít skimp on the gameplay either, even if itís not particularly imaginative.  Ice Age 2 borrows generously from N64-era platformers like Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. The whole landscape is littered with acorns, the delicious treasures which Scrat is famously seen chasing in the best moments of the movies. While collecting these are optional, finding enough in a given area will unlock an interview with voice cast members. They seem to talk more about their work on the movie rather than the game, but this should hold over fans until the special edition DVD comes out.

 

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In each level, thereís usually some kind of task to complete. In a few regions, all you need to do is to find the exit. In others, youíll need to find a certain number of walnuts before you can move on. At various points, Scrat will run into fellow animals who usually need his assistance for some reason, which usually triggers one of several mini-games. These include games of penguin bowling, hide and seek, and whack-a-mole, as well as several shooting gallery challenges. While these are fairly brainless, 

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the most amusing is one is Sid the slothís slide down a huge, icy mountain Ė not only do you need to dodge obstacles like a slalom event, but youíll run into several ramps which launch you straight into the air. The action slows down, the music turns classical, and a series of Dance Dance Revolution-like arrows appear at the bottom of the screen. Hit the arrows right, and youíll perform some acrobatics before you hit the ground again. Itís amusingly clever, if nothing else.

 

ice age 2          ice age 2

 

However, the pitfalls of platforming genre tend to rear their ugly head. There are times where it can feel like too much of a collect-a-thon, especially since thereís very little in the way of guidance, and some of the areas can get a bit large. It doesnít help that the landscapes arenít varied, as itís too easy to run in circles in certain areas. Although itís not the primary focus of the game, combat can also get a bit awkward. Scratís tail is too short to use effectively, itís difficult to jump on top of bad guys, and hitting foes with your limited supply of pebbles is more of a matter of luck than anything else. Thankfully, scenes that require fighting are pretty rare, so you can run past most battles. Scrat has a lot of health, and even if the few cases where you meet instant death, the checkpoints are plentiful.

 

In fact, the whole game is just a bit too easy. Undoubtedly, Ice Age 2 was made for the younger crowd, so older gamers will probably find it to be rather unengaging, and it certainly treads on well-worn territory. Itís also over rather quickly, with very little in the way of replay value. Still, itís a great looking package with a solid game attached, which is more than can be said of most licensed titles.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(April 27, 2006)

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