Reviewed: March 5, 2008
Released: February 5, 2008
The Spiderwick Chronicles for the Xbox is not that great a game and plays pretty much like the Wii version I also reviewed. For those that have not read that review I will go over some of the same stuff. The Spiderwick Chronicles from Sierra and Stormfront Games is based on the new feature film of the same name.
The Spiderwick Chronicles follows the story of a family who after a bitter divorce moves to their deceased uncleís country house with some secrets in the backyard. The main character, Jared starts off the tale by befriending the little brownie named Thimbletack and then you jump into that character. You play as each of the main characters of the movie but mostly do a game of fetch finding objects and solving an almost useless puzzle with them.
The Spiderwick Chronicles has you running all over the grounds of Uncle Arthur Spiderwick who discovered a world of invisible creatures in the house, yard and immediate vicinity of his property. You adventure through level after level of fetching objects to first gain the trust of Thimbletack and then fight off the ogres and other creatures of the yard.
The game mostly puts a show of puzzles and adventure by having you finding objects that are placed throughout the house and yard area. When you first wander around objects are immediately visible by a glowing sign above it and approaching each will give you the choice of either looking at it or picking it up if it is useable in the current mission.
You cannot pick up objects that are not immediately useable and this makes little sense to the games style. Why even show the objects with a glowing sign other than to make it simple to find, there goes the puzzle and adventure. Most of the puzzles are the plain and simple things like a round stone ring on a wall that you have to get down as Thimbletack, of course by the only means he can do things; shoot it with a needle/spear.
Then you have to chase the stone as it rolls away from you and through several areas of the walls and world of Thimbletack. This chase is just another way to fetch things and just prolongs the game instead of adding more fun or adventure. The gaming while Thimbletack is about the most fun but it still does not amount to much, mostly you run around avoiding or hitting creatures and fetching objects.
The control in the Xbox version is a bit better with the Xbox controller and your camera and the only real control problems you will have is continuing the game of fetch. The puzzles are not all that puzzling or difficult and usually mean just getting some item and bringing it to a new part of the house or area.
The entire premise of finding the objects and doing a simple task with them consumes the game and most of your time. Once you have an object itís on to the next game of fetch for more items scattered around the place. This is the majority of the game and gets so repetitive that it is mostly not fun.
Like I said in the Wii review for The Spiderwick Chronicles the game does a decent job of following some kind of story but this was laid out quite easily by the movie and screenplay for it. There was not much to creating a story and following it is done through the use of cut scenes and the continued use of the field guide helps you along in your quest to discover the world built in the books that the movie and game are based on.
The graphics are pretty decent but nothing fantastic with some good looking scenes and some decent textures but nothing much above average. There are problems galore with little things like animations missing things and certain collision detection mistakes that make a glaring show of the game being rushed.
The graphics for the most part are average but the little things add up quickly for an overall average rating. The cut scenes are handled pretty well and give the story some boost and flow but the scenes are often quite pointless with the mindless games of fetch.
Again I like the animation of leaves blowing around the screen instead of a bar or some other way to show progress is being made to load the scene. Itís not much but something that is positive about the game and there are plenty of things that are not that great about it. Most of the graphics are about average for current games and having the better graphics of 720p or even the best 1080i or 1080p doesnít add much to the gaming experience.
The sound is also handled pretty well with the soundtrack being made eclusively for the game. All the regular background music and themes are good but this was probably already done for the game designers. The actual in game sounds were done well and there was not much effort put in on the voice acting that comes across again as very rushed.
The dialogue and voice interaction come across as having the actors read a script of one linerís and sentences with no context or meaning for them to give any kind of emphasis to any particular parts. This comes across just like the Wii version as very rushed and poorly composed for the voice acting as well as the rest of the game.
With no real replay value due to the repetitive nature of the main portion of the game and the lack of any really complicated puzzles there is really no reason to replay the Spiderwick Chronicles. The game just runs the player through a series of fetch games with small and almost pointless puzzles along with some bashing of creatures to add a bit of fight to the game.
There really is not much of a reason to return to the world of Arthur Spiderwick and the main question would be is there enough of a reason to go there in the first place.
The Spiderwick Chronicles sounds like a great movie and of course the books have done really well but the game is just another movie based game that was rushed to meet the release of the feature film. The Xbox version is almost exactly like the Wii with a little better control with the Xbox system instead of the sometimes problematic Wii remote.
The Spiderwick Chronicles is really a poor excuse for an adventure game and an about average game in total, it is playable but not really that enjoyable.