STAFF REVIEW of Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (Xbox)

Tuesday, December 6, 2005.
by Rhiannon

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe Box art Ever since I was twelve, I have been an avid fan of this particular novel. Now, seventeen years later I am still a fan of the book and have read it to my children. So imagine my surprise when I found out that a movie and game where in the works to be released this year. December, and the holidays are upon us and so is The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. In all honesty, I could not wait to get my hands on this game and awaken the twelve year old inside of me. I hoped against all hopes that this game would satisfy my notions of the Pevensie children and their escapades through the wardrobe and into Narnia. So, with a great sigh, I powered up my Xbox, put this game in the loading tray and I was off on my own adventure.

From here on out I am going to refer to this title as just Chronicles as it is a long title to type. If you have not read the book, don?t fret this game follows it pretty darn well save for the very intro. It incorporates the for Pevensie children, the Professor they stay with, Mrs. Macready the housekeeper, Mr. Tumnus a faun, Aslan, the majestic lion and countless other creatures of Narnia. Each of the Pevensie children are, from oldest to youngest, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. The adventure starts as the children are whisked off to the country to stay with an old professor and his mean housekeeper. Each of the children has a difficult time adjusting to the changes. So, it all begins with a simple game of hide and seek as Lucy finds a wonderful wardrobe to hide in. It?s not just any old wardrobe, it?s a doorway to another world, a world known as Narnia. After much debate, the older children discover that their younger siblings have been telling the truth as they all decide to hide in the wardrobe to escape the foul mood of Mrs. Macready. As they enter the wardrobe they are amazed to find a winter wonderland all around them. A world known as Narnia that is stuck in a one hundred year winter under the control of the evil White Witch. They grab some coats from the wardrobe and begin their adventures in Narnia.

At the start of the game, your thrown right in the action as you have a view from inside a bomber as it flies over war torn London. This was the first clue that portions of the movie, to be released, are going to be incorporated as the cut scenes for this game. I was fully impressed by the intro into actual game play, regardless of the fact that this whole scenario is only mentioned in passing in the first couple sentences of the book. My first mission was to get out of the house before it is bombed. During this ordeal or tutorial basically I learned to switch from one Pevensie child to the next as each child has a special ability. Peter is the oldest and therefore takes the rule as leader, he is the strongest and able to smash doors and obstacles as he is skilled with a sword. Susan is focused and as such is the barer of bow and arrows allowing her to fight foes and obstacles from a distance. Edmund, the stubborn one, is able to wield weapons and still be agile enough to climb. Lucy, the youngest, may not be strong but she has the ability to heal the children, tame certain creatures, and also climb into small crevices.

The Chronicles incorporates each of the children?s special abilities into the game, as you are forced to strategize how to use these abilities to get from level to level. Another remarkable feature of these children is the ability to team them up with one another to open up a whole new ability scenario. For instance, Peter and Edmund may team up allowing Peter to swing Edmund around like a rag doll to kick foes or obstacles in a path. Peter can Carry Susan on his back allowing her to shoot or throw projectile from a greater height. Lucy can be teamed with either Edmund or Susan to be swung into obstacles and enemies. Throughout the game coins can be collected and found to purchase individual abilities or group abilities. It is wise to search and collect as many coins as possible to purchase the abilities, as some of these abilities are required to pass levels. The key to playing Chronicles, is to take in your surroundings and to strategize or look for clues as to help you choose the right sibling for the right job. Objects can also to be manipulated or used to help you kill or get past enemies so pay attention and remember to switch to Lucy for a quick group heal every no w and again. The Chronicles also has a wide variety of boss battles to keep you on your toes. Each scenario differs from the previous one and requires a different strategy with the siblings.

As for the graphics of the game, they are right on par with other film to game titles. The cut scenes are absolutely beautiful as they are taken from the movie itself. I thought it was pretty cool how Buena Vista transitioned from cut scenes to game play, it was seamless. The children looked very much like their big screen images. This game looks so well polished as opposed to other movie titled games. Everything from character generation to the surrounding backdrop environments impressed me. Each character and npc is animated easily and there is no problem presented as wave after wave of enemy is seen on the screen. The game also boasts a constant change in landscapes. One battle you may find yourself in a winter tundra, while the next battle may take place in a tunnel or picturesque field. Overall, this is a great looking game to match the impressive play structure.

The Chronicles also has an impressive audio to boot. This in part is due to the fantastic clips from the movie and intense battle sounds. In the thick of adventures you are able to hear Peter?s sword clanging against enemy armor. You can equally hear the twang of Susan?s bow string as she shoots arrows at the enemy. Grunts from the fighting children and evil creatures alike, can also be heard amidst all the battle scenes. I was also equally thrilled with the musical score of the game. Each adventure had a musical composition to match the mood and is one of the most important things to pull you into the game from an audio standpoint.

There have been countless video games modeled after blockbuster movies. Sadly many of these games were done so poorly that games made after movies have gotten a bad reputation. I am happy to report that this is not the case with this game. The Chronicles of Narnia has completely surpassed all of those to come before it. This is the way all other movie to game adaptations should be done, because there is now a perfect role model out there. I loved playing this game and seeing a childhood novel to life on my television. I could play through the adventure myself in a wonderfully done action adventure game. In fact, I totally recommend all fans of the book to play this game. However, the only thing I must caution you against, is to not play the game before watching the movie. This is simply because the game employs movie clips as each cut scene. Having played the game prior to viewing the movie, I have a pretty good idea what to expect in the theaters. So unless you want to see major spoilers, then play the game first, otherwise go see the movie then buy the game and play it afterwards to relive the adventure all over again.

My sole gripe is but a minor one, and in no way takes away from the magnificent game. I did however have a minor targeting problem while using Susan. I found that I would have to retarget occasionally with her as she would automatically target the nearest enemy instead of an obsticle I needed to shoot at. Other than that I thought this game was wonderfully done. From now on all games titles adapted from movies should be done in this fashion, as Chronicles of Narnia has set the bar in my opinion.

Overall: 10.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.8 / 10
Visuals: 10.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10


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