STAFF REVIEW of Open Season (Xbox 360)


Tuesday, October 24, 2006.
by Tony Ingrassia

Open Season Box art Open season is based on the movie by the same name and puts you in the staring roll as Boog the domesticated bear. Boogs life gets turned upside down when a wise cracking one horned deer named Elliot gets him into a little trouble in town. Suddenly Boog finds himself away from his comfy garage at Ranger Beth?s and in the forest during hunting season. With Elliot by his side the 2 set out to find their way back to Timberline, no easy task when you don?t really fit in with the other woodland creatures. So join Boog and Elliot as they befriend the animals and take on the hunters in Open Season by UbiSoft.

Open Season is one of the 1st true ?Kids? titles on the 360, with that it is also, in my opinion of course, a step above the normal run, jump, and collect fare that usually accompanies the kids movie to video track. You start off playing the game as Boog the bear, who lives in Ranger Beth?s garage and performs in her wilderness show. Honestly Boog is just an oversized dog, living? the good life and completely detached from his animal instincts. One night he is coaxed out of his cozy living into town by his soon to be sidekick Elliot the one horned, wise cracking, comic relief in the game. After a small incident at the neighborhood convenient store and a tranquilizer dart to the butt start Boog and friends on their adventure to find their way back home to Timberline.


Like most games Open Season has its tutorial/stage, and also gives you tips along the way. The game is a mix of collecting as well as a bit of strategy. Your 1st tasks are to befriend the creatures of the forest so they will help you rather than attack you; this is accomplished by completing mission given to you by each creature. Once befriended the game hits its normal flow. Using each creature abilities to help you outsmart the hunters led by the ruthless Shaw (Boss), and ultimately get you back home in one piece. Open Season does a great job of coming up with unique strengths for your new found allies. Need to get a hunter out of his cabin to take him out? Well grab a skunk and launch him down the chimney as a stink bomb. The control method is very simple to learn, which include picking up the small creatures as projectiles such as the skunk, for more accurate projectiles rabbits come in handy dew to the ?Cross Hare? feature they have, using their ears as sights helps with those bunny head shots. Again, most of the animals process a bonus skill of some sort to help you out. Your one mane stay is Elliot who is basically an extension of Boog. You can launch Elliot to hard to reach places and call him back to you by whistling for him. When Elliot is equipped, as well as other projectiles, a trajectory arc appears with a bulls-eye at the end to aim your flying animal of choice.


To this you can add a few fun features to the game; Beth?s Scrapbook is basically the collecting part of the game. Collect Ranger Badges that are scattered around the forest and add them to Beth?s scrapbook. Then you have the Wild Challenges which are mini games that can be unlocked as you go through the main adventure, two of the five are open from the get go. And lastly the, if I dare say, the RPG part of the game?not really, but it?s the easiest way to describe the Wild Academy feature, Boog can spend the Wild Style points he earns on improving his health bar, accuracy, and distance to name a few things. The last few things about Boog and his adventure are his Roar skills, Hide and Sneak function and how does he stay full of life? Simple one first, boogs health is kept in check using his sense of smell, pulling and holding the LB helps Boog sniff out berries for himself along with hidden items. Being a bear you may as well use your fear factor when trying to get rid of hunters, you can try and sneak up close to hunter by using your Hide and Sneak cover tactics by pulling and holding the RB. Boog will then whip out a few branches with leaves and become virtually invisible to hunters, there is only so much time available to hide so time your approach wisely, once close enough you ?Proximity? icon will flash and you can let out with a great big bear roar. A Roar meter appears and holding the ?A? button brings the meter up, when in the red it can be released for a big roar that sends hunters running for their lives.


Let?s not get crazy, yes the game is very linear and the one real annoyance is the ungodly load time, but that being said this little adventure game will appeal to a few mature gamers as well as entertain younger gamers with slightly more involved and interesting game play. Open Season also looks real nice on the 360, yes its based on a CGI movie, but we all know that doesn?t help sometime, with Open Season the game play is smooth, the effects are nicely done and the environment give a great illusion of vastness. The voice overs are not of the original cast but do a solid job of brining the characters to life, the comic relief by 1st and foremost Elliot is a fun touch, and the other characters lend a hand in keeping the game light and entertaining for younger gamers.




Suggestions:
All in all I liked Open Season for what it is, and entertaining ?Everyone? title that broke away form the norm showing that movie to game titles don?t need to be cookie cutter and can be fun for not only younger gamers, but adults also. I seem to never get tired of riding an outhouse down raging rapids, call me silly.



Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10

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