Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs comes at the same time as the animated movie and having watched the previous Ice Age movies can agree that they are witty, well produced and perfect light entertainment for youngsters and adults alike. We’re not here to talk about animated movies but more the dreaded movie tie in games that go with them. Sure, there’s always a feeling that movie tie-in games have a limited budget and rely perhaps too heavily on the movie itself to help shift the games from the stores; but as gamers and judging them on their own merits against similar titles that don’t have a movie backup is what we have to look at. So, as a game which offers familiarity (for those who have seen the movies) and adventure for gamers looking to while away the hours, how well does Dawn of the Dinosaurs stack up?
The game places you in the familiar shoes of the movie’s main characters but rather than simply offer your basic platforming/adventure painting by numbers type approach, actually attempts (and quite successfully) to mix things up a little. There are moments where you’ll be hopping from rock to rock, jumping perilous gaps and swinging from vines, but ultimately when you take a step back and look at all the facets which make up the game in its entirety and you’ve got a veritable slice of diversity – which isn’t a bad thing.
You’ll be controlling the likes of Sid the sloth, Scrat the squirrel amongst others from the original movie, as well as newcomers like Buck. They are all here and remarkably play very different from each other. The game opts to provide a fairly linear path through the levels, although on occasion you’re able to deviate to a degree or choose which aspects of a level you’ll tackle first. Like all games of this ilk, you’ll be collecting items galore such as food stuffs so you can purchase upgrades and unlock more goodies. This is a perfect excuse to use the game’s attack moves not only against those dinosaurs, bats, spiders etc. but the stationary objects like mushrooms and ice blocks.
The game does present some mild puzzles which for most adult gamers will prove to be a breeze, although for very young gamers shouldn’t pose too many problems after one or two attempts. They mostly revolve around navigation, such as with Sid you’ll need to make use of fire to illuminate your path whilst avoiding water and wind (which extinguishes your flame). It’s all very tame and for adult gamers should prove fairly relaxing (no shouting at the TV and smashing controllers here). There are some clever uses of the level design and not only lots of elements borrowed from other games, but several moments that go beyond cute and offer some nostalgic moments. The ‘Scramble’ like level being one that stood out and was a surprising entry and admittedly very fun (even for this reviewer).
Younger gamers will surely find much enjoyment from this game as the developers have really made sure that with waning attention spans, keeping the action well paced and ever changing is the best course of action for capturing the imagination.
Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs isn’t the most visually stunning of games, but in general is vibrant and colourful enough to capture the essence of the movies it is based on. The characters are well animated and resemble their on-screen counterparts suitably and therefore makes the game do what it says on the tin, or box in this case. There are some odd moments with the camera, but due to the relaxing pacing shouldn’t pose much of a problem. The game runs smoothly, with no issues plaguing the game from start to finish so that gameplay remains largely uninterrupted.
The sound features voice overs from the movie, which adds credibility to the characters during the cut scenes and as you play. The sound bites are entertaining, and with a narrative between levels paints the story for you in an easy to understand manner. The music is non intrusive and well scored, and like the graphics there really isn’t much to fault here especially as there’s lots of variation and flawless performances throughout.
There are a number of levels, some lasting more than others and with collectibles to hunt down, the option to replay any level and a number of challenges; not forgetting a local multiplayer component. For younger gamers there’s enough here (and challenge) to keep them well occupied for some time. For older gamers, you’re most likely to breeze through the game very quickly gaining those 1000 points with relative ease – although some challenges might get the better of you for a while.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a welcome game and one that doesn’t just follow the tried and trusted formula of the ‘movie tie-in’ video game. The developers have actually tried to add some personality and quirks of their own (albeit unoriginal) and in this case works very well. If you’re a fan of the movies, then this is highly recommended especially for younger gamers, although it’s questionable as to how well it would stack up for slightly older gamers who are well skilled with video games. Either way, it’s fun, entertaining and well worth picking up whether you’re renting or purchasing. It’s clear the game is aimed at the younger market, and in this respect succeeds comfortably in what it sets out to do.