Waffle irons, toasters and water coolers have gained self-awareness and a desperate desire to rip into human flesh, and it’s up to small group of typecast guinea pigs with jetpacks to save the day. So the story goes in G-force, a fuzzy-edged action game made to tie in to this summer’s blockbuster film.
At first glance, G-force is a well-polished and well-constructed third person shooter/adventurer that just so happens to have talking animals. But after the initial polish wears down a bit, it becomes apparent that it’s a kid’s game, which means it’s as short and easy as a game made for ADD-addled ten year-olds needs to be. There’s an achievement for beating the game in 8 hours or less. We clocked in at 8:00.44, which still earned the achievement and proved that, for us, the timing was right on. For kids, it’s a pretty long game, but for an adult, it probably won’t seem like enough.
But the kid-ishness manifests itself in more ways than the breezy pace. For instance, the fighting controls work well, even when they seem a little crowded (the A button jumps, hovers using your jet pack, and rocket jumps). The larger problem is the enemies. There are tons of different kinds to fight but only a smattering of them have targeted weaknesses or require interesting tactics to kill. The game kindly provides you with a weapon that scans enemy’s weaknesses, but it usually boils down to shooting the hell out of them, slapping them with your laser whip until they explode, or not doing anything at all, as some are conveniently immune to small rodent weaponry.
A majority of the game will have you scuttling around the pipes, ducts, and floors or rather boring high-tech bases, solving puzzles, and fighting leagues of newly rogue kitchen appliances. At all times, players can switch between lead guinea pig Darwin and the surveillance expert, Mooch. Mooch is a fly that can be seen hovering around Darwin throughout the game (nice touch) and who can do things like fly through a narrow crevice, dodge a fan blade, and electro-zap a surveillance camera to let Darwin pass undetected. The game delivers new weapons and upgrades as you collect Saber chips, the in-game currency, and find hidden discs. It always straddles the line between repetitive and mildly amusing, which in kid-terms probably aligns with “super best thing ever.”
G-Force also includes a 3D mode that we were quite excited about. We even took the time to write up about it here. But, even though it technically works, the red and blue lenses of the included 3D glasses completely drain the game of its color. No serious gamer will spend 8 to 10 hours discoloring their beautifully rendered game and HDTV to look at a rodent that sort of stands out. Neither the game nor the instruction manual ever addresses that 3D can be toggled on and off from an options menu either, so many kids will probably never even realize they could have played it as such. Unless they read the front of the box. Or notice the 3D glasses in it. Okay, so only really dumb kids won’t know, but still, a quick mention in the in-game tutorial might have been nice.
With little backstory, the “in medias res” nature of the game may leave some players scratching their heads. Why can these animals talk at all? Why are they so reluctant to be seen? Why didn’t Nicholas Cage reprise his role as Speckles the mole? Luckily, or perhaps not, many of these gaps can be filled in with a little imagination. Here’s the official GamesRadar take: Your guinea pig’s name is Darwin, which apparently explains why you’re able to talk, fly jet packs, and contemplate existence. Team G-force is reluctant to be seen because they are on “secret missions.” And Nicholas Cage was reprising his role for Ghostrider, another character who probably wishes he was dead instead.
All that being said, G-Force was worth a play through, maybe two if you’re in it for the achievements, which is merit enough for a movie-tie about guinea pig espionage. The game isn’t great, but its much better than you’d expect, and certainly worth the purchase if you’re buying it for a youngster.
Jul 29, 2009