The Golden Compass
With every big budget movie there are always some games based upon them. The Golden Compass was no exception and received a game on almost every platform. Most of the time these games based upon movie don’t have a very good reputation, but maybe this game is an exception?
For the people that haven’t seen the movie, here’s a short introduction: You play as Lyra Belacqua who is accompanied with her two allies Pantalaimon (Pan) the deamon and a large polarbear called Lorek. Together with these companions, you try to free your friend Roger who was abducted by a group of Gobblers. Besides all of this you also carry a golden compass who acts as a small fortune teller. The company that was supposed to give us a beautiful game was Shiny Entertainment, the developer of titles like MDK and Sacrifice. Sadly they are also the people behind Enter the Matrix and Path of Neo and with pain in my heart I have to say that The Golden Compass is in the last group of games.
As a first negative point we have the story. It is chaotically told as if the developer thinks every player has read the novel or seen the movie of The Golden Compass. I haven’t seen it yet, so I couldn’t really follow the story which shouldn’t be occurring.
The gameplay of the game is also not so positive. Instead of focusing on one gameplay element, they just tried to throw as much variety in it as possible. This doesn’t sound bad in theory, but in practice it gives a game that has everything and nothing. As a first we have exploration. In certain areas you will have to search for information or do special requests. These requests can go from throwing snowballs, to mopping the deck of your flying ship. Not really my idea of saving a civilization!
Another sort of gameplay is the platform thing. The positive about this is your daemon Pantalaimon. He can change himself in 4 different animal forms. You can for example glide through the air with Lyra if he has changed himself in his hawk form or swing from tree to tree when he resembles an ape. Doing combat with Lyra will be very minimal, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, you’ll mostly do non-combat related stuff.
The part where you are going to fight is with Lorek, the armoured polar bear. Now why is this part also bad? As a first we have the irritating camera. This is fixed so you’ll have numerous occasions when something is blocking your view. The second negative point is the combat itself. You have 3 buttons, namely hit, block and grab. As ultimate skill you can also do a shockwave when your rage meter is filled.
As a final feature we have our magical golden compass. It would’ve been awkward if this small trinket wouldn’t have been a major feature in the game. When this compass is opened you will see a lot of unknown symbols. These can be deciphered with information that you gather throughout the game. Each one resembles a word and the sentences that are made out of these tell you what to do in the game. It isn’t really hard to decipher, since after a couple of failed tries it gives you the answer. Perfect way of ruining a brilliant feature!
The graphics of the game aren’t something you will be impressed with either. You would expect that the developer could get the full potential out of the Playstation 2 which has been out now for 8 years? The environments are boring and fuzzy and the models of the enemies and your characters aren’t that great. There are games who are 2-3 years old on this console who look better then this game.
With the sound department we have something positive to say. The music in the game is the one from the official soundtrack, sadly this is where the positive remarks end. The voice-overs aren’t that impressive, only 2 actors gave their voices for the game, namely Lyra and Pan. All the other voices were done by other people As a final note, the sound effects are decent but nothing special.
Shiny Entertainment really needs to get a dictionary and look up the word quality. In the past they delivered beautiful games, but now they develop third rate titles who don’t even deserve the word budget. For the readers who still don’t know what to do, avoid this game completely.