Over the Hedge review

  • Wide variety of headgear
  • Stupid human tricks
  • Cheap price
  • Unoriginal, repetitive design
  • Annoying voice cues
  • Dreamworks' propaganda machine

Just because a game gets developed specifically for kids doesn't automatically mean that it's going to suck. Similarly, games based on cartoon characters don't have to suck either... but sometimes they do. All of the trademark indications of lameness pervade Over the Hedge, a stamped-out, jog-around 3D platform-jumper. Lousy camera work that you can't control, horrifically repetitive character yelps and claustrophobic, nonsensical level design all work together to drain the pleasure out of what might have been a fairly decent game. At least the multiplayer provides some giggles, but not enough to torture yourself with the rest of the game.

Trundling through the backyards and homes of oblivious and bungling humans, you get to play as RJ the raccoon, Verne the turtle, Hammy the squirrel and Stella the skunk. Gameplay itself revolves around stealing food and home electronics from the neighborhood and slogging them back to your forest lair. Throughout your quest for booty, the game's insufferable camera fights tooth and claw against you in an attempt to get your fur singed by lasers or trap you within steel cages - it's practically an enemy unto itself. Simply enabling the player to move the camera on their own would have made the experience infinitely more manageable.

The canned exclamations of your furry characters become annoying instantly, because they're yelled out constantly. RJ's gems include, "Enemy, meet raccoon!" and, "You've been raccooned!" - neither of which make any sense... although that might be asking too much of a talking raccoon.

The levels are designed with strict objectives and don't allow much exploration outside of the standard hunt-for-the-hidden-objects cliche. Featuring invisible walls and areas that must be cleared of repetitiously spawning enemies before any progress can be made, Over the Hedge defines mediocre gameplay.

The never-ending torrent of product placement refuses to blend into the game's background; it clubs you over the head at every opportunity. While earning new hats for your chosen animal can be cute and fun when the hats are of the cowboy or chef variety, nobody wants a cap emblazoned with the Dreamworks logo. When the critters of the forest gaffle a video projector from the humans, the first thing they do is fire up a game of Shrek Super Slam... how convenient (or rather, contrived).

Even for kids, Over the Hedge is absurdly frustrating with its busted camera and indoctrinating logo-storm. Granted, playing with a friend makes this game a little more tolerable, but not for very long. Like most games based on "highly anticipated feature films," Over the Hedge hardly tries to be a game as much as it attempts to be a vehicle for delivering maximum merchandising. Uninspiring gameplay and negligible story cause this game to descend into barely passable status... and they never let you fly the remote control airplane, which is just inexcusable.

More Info

Release date: May 09 2006 - PS2, GameCube, PC, Xbox (US)
Available Platforms: PS2, GameCube, PC, Xbox, DS, GBA
Genre: Action
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Vicarious Visions, Edge of Reality
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor


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