Ice Age: Continental Drift – Arctic Games almost manages to rewrite your feelings on the Ice Age films, erasing some of the positive memories you might have carried. I’ve laughed out loud and genuinely enjoyed the movies I’ve seen, but Activision’s latest game nearly spoils all that with poor renditions of the main characters and gameplay that is as generally dull as it is inconsistent.
I’m not often harsh on a game, I like to think I can see through sloppy presentation and a few dodgy issues if the mechanics are solid and there’s some promise there, but Arctic Games starts badly (with some low resolution, cheap looking video footage) and somehow gets worse, the so-called Story Mode peppered with more low-rent FMV and even managing to actually repeat the various minigames as the plot rumbles on to pad things out.
Targets, always good fun.
There’s ten such games available, and whilst some are obvious enough given the icy locale (skiing is actually alright, but the ski jump is a miserable attempt to do some in-air button matching tricks) the sudden change of pace to the pedestrian crawl of a curling themed event really takes the biscuit. Especially when facing off against possibly the most frustratingly stupid and painfully slow AI ever witnessed in a game like this.
Thankfully, most games are actually just against the clock or a score level, although even with these simple, life-long markers it’s not really evident how you’ve done (or even if you’ve actually won) until the end, when the game inexplicably then deducts seconds or adds on points depending on how many acorns you’ve come across during a downhill descent or hit on the arc of a target somewhere out to sea in the long-range catapult game.
You’re unlikely to lose first time, despite the game rules passing by once as the game loads and then being left without button prompts to figure things out for yourself. When you do struggle – as I did in the one that sees Diego leaping from block of ice to block of ice against a timer and some nasty game rules and controls that see you plunging into the water through no fault of your own – it’s controller-smashingly annoying.
The confusing ice jumping minigame.
Motion controls are present, but they make little difference to the gameplay. The tilt-to-steer on the PlayStation controller works appropriately, but having to flick it up and down feels like 2007, and I dread to think what it’s like with Kinect. Thankfully, you can play with regular controls.
This isn’t a party game because there’s really no party here, and only a couple of the games are actually any good (the one where you’re tasked with plugging holes is perhaps the highlight, requiring deft use of the twin analog sticks). The various options are really only variations on a theme, and this will realistically only provide an hour or so’s entertainment for kids with nothing else to play.
- Workmanlike graphics.
- Kids might appreciate the characters.
- Inconsistent gameplay.
- Just not really all that much fun.
It’s not clear what really happened here. Ice Age: Continental Drift the videogame is a poor reflection on the series, feels underdeveloped and – given the limited amount of actual game on offer – overpriced even at a ‘budget’ rate of thirty notes. Die-hard fans might just appreciate the characters, but for me it’s just managed to sour the brand. Very hard to recommend, even for kids.