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July 13, 2012 • Gaming, Reviews

Brave: the Video Game Review on PlayStation 3

A third person action-adventure, “Brave: The Video Game” expands the tale beyond the movie’s storyline. Gamers can play as Merida, an expert archer and heroine and can also play as other  familiar characters from the film or assist Merida as a wisp.

NOTE: This Disney Interactive game tells a similar storyline to the film, but still reveals specific storylines in the film release in theaters.

The Hype

Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands. Brave tells one such tale, one of the courageous Merida, who confronted tradition and challenged destiny to change her fate. Inspired by the Disney/Pixar animated fantasy movie, Brave invites players to run, jump and battle their way through the rugged landscape of mythical and mysterious Scotland. By using wits and bravery, players are able to wield a sword and bow to defeat fierce enemies, break a magical curse and save a kingdom.

A third person action-adventure, Brave: The Video Game expands the tale beyond the movie’s storyline. Gamers can play as Merida, an expert archer and heroine, or as one of a host of other entertaining characters from the film. Go on quests through a magical world and solve puzzles to uncover secrets. Brave offers a gameplay variety including single-player, co-op for family and friends, and a special Bear mode, where players will be able to play as a bear. Several new opponents have been created exclusively to inhabit the game’s world and challenge players with their varying skills, culminating with an ultimate boss battle to complete the adventure. And with PlayStation Move, gamers will feel like they are using a bow and arrow in an archery range for a truly immersive experience.

The Reality

Set in mythical Scotland, the adventure platform game Brave The Video Game expands the tale beyond the movie’s storyline beginning with the film’s second half. NOTE: The game storyline includes some spoilers in the movie.

The third-person perspective action follows the main character Merida, daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Merida is voiced by the same actor in the film, Kelly MacDonald, and has three little brothers.

Adventurous players can tackle various quests set in various settings and seasons through a magical world and solve puzzles to uncover secrets. Play the main game mode alone or with a friend who controls a Will O’ the Wisp. The additional player can join and leave any time without slowing the game flow and provide support with spin attacks and arrow attacks. The main player controls Merida, but will also control other characters in special circumstances.

Three archery mini-games with wooden targets using the PlayStation Move are also available (a similar version using Kinect for the Xbox 360 version). Players can earn more coins, the game’s main currency, in this minigame, which incorporates a behind the shoulder perspective. Controls work smoothly as game developers successfully simulate players taking an arrow from behind the back (from quiver) then aiming and finally releasing with a realistic downward slope.

Challenges within this mini-game include time limits and limited arrows. Players can also try to get as many targets as possible before they reach a certain point. It’s a great arm workout.

Players get started in this Disney Interactive game with a few customizations and difficulty choice (easy, medium, hard or brave). Players can even add a heavier armored “guard mail” appearance for Merida or her familiar green royal gown costume. Lives are unlimited, but they will get hurt and lose health – visualized by a blinking character visual and the familiar health bar.

The storybook-style cut scenes support the strong story very well. The dialogue is clear and the style appeals. In the game, the character dialogue audio is unfortunately diminished when completing several actions or performing interactions within a short amount of time. For example, Merida destroys a target, which yields a clever quip, but immediately destroys something else and players hear a new quip overlap the previous one.

Green arrows prompt important visuals, but a camera zoom option would have been nice. Jumping and landing into another areas where the character shadows help, but it’s still difficult to find a safe spot to land on small areas like highland cliff points and floating ice blocks.

Players use the x button to jump then can press the x button again (a quick press not a hold) in mid-air for a helpful boost. Not realistic physics here, but developers have all ages of gamers in mind throughout this game.

Merida soon gets a sword for fighting baddies and cutting objects like flowers and plants for coins. Keep her still once the coins come out for the most efficient method that saves time chasing the coins. Some coins and object will fall on ledges and other out of reach places, but players grab usually get the majority without much effort.

Besides jumping and running, players can move their characters quickly using zip lines, which exist in all of the weather environments. The weather changes all the time just to designate different areas in the vast lands not to designate the passing of time. The arctic environments are very challenging, especially when sliding across moving ice blocks, which players must first target then freeze them solid.

Character outfit, bows, and swords all factor into the weapon set while the four unlockable elements (fire, ice, wind, and earth) enhance all this set. Developers make long ranging fighting fun with the lethal bow fires at 360 degrees using the right analog stick instead of a targeting system plus players get unlimited arrows. This targeting system works well, but when facing multiple enemies, players can move back and lay down an impressive and unrelenting suppressive fire in one direction on the right analog stick while moving with the left directional stick so each arrow flies toward enemies.

Puzzle solving with multiple character and using bears for fighting bigger enemy packs add some variety in the action filled fighting. Merida can also summon helpers or use the elements for special attacks.

Players can purchase items using the coins at merchant stations that usually appear as large stones that transform after defeating enemy groups. Each station unlocks in different areas, but they all offer the same items and upgrades. The dodge action is unlockable, which is a surprise because it should have been included in the basic character controls. Players can also collect special tapestry pieces from the environments for special advantages.

This all ages game has a smooth and responsive control system, which helps among the constant challenges that involve several new opponents created exclusively for this game. Enemies include spirit wolves, ice monsters, rock giants, ravens, exploding imps, gremlins and charging stone boars with the Mor’du bear as the main antagonist. Check the icon above each enemy for their weakness then use the corresponding element to defeat them.

The graphics and visual style impress thought developers cannot quite match the detail and movement in Merida’s hair from the film. The gorgeous settings, lighting and Celtic music really enhance the experience. The replay value offers medium level incentives where players can return to get more items and coins to purchase all upgrades from the merchant stations.

This game included a special voucher for film viewings at theaters worth up to $8 that expires at the end of August 2012. Also available on the Xbox 360 (with Kinect capabilities), Nintendo Wii, Mac, Windows PC, and Nintendo DS.

Review: Brave: the Video Game

Where to Buy: Amazon.com and other stores

Price: $49.99 (SRP)

What I Like:  plentiful lives/arrow ammunition, can change direction on jumps, music, impressive visuals, constant action, expanded storyline continuing from last half of the film, player benefit from concentration on helpful and fun actions with less stress on realistic physics

What Needs Improvement: Merida’s animated hair quality does not equal the film, dodge as unlockable item instead of a basic action

Source: Copy provided by publisher

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