The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe PlayStation 2
Published by Buena Vista Games
Developed by Traveller's Tales
Release Date: Out Now
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, an introduction.
The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of 7 books, has long been hailed as a literary classic. The most famous of the 7 books is of course The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Surprisingly we've only just had a movie based on the book (which is being shown on the cinemas as I write), although we've had TV dramatisations and an animated movie many years ago. Games based on movies are usually pretty lousy but this is definitely one of the better ones and it's a game fans of the books and movie should enjoy, although it's not quite the experience it should be for deaf gamers.
What's the game about?
The Chronicles of Narnia is an action game based on the movie. As you might expect you get to play as Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy during the course of the game and each of the characters have their own abilities. The game closely follows the events of the film and contains numerous movie clips to string the levels together. Actually I was quite surprised how many movie clips there are in the game and it's quite revealing (and potentially spoiling) if you have yet to see the movie.
What's good about the game?
The PlayStation 2 has action games by the bucket load and most are pretty average to be honest with a fair chunk of them being poor. The Chronicles of Narnia definitely feels better than most and whilst it does get repetitive, it does actually hold your attention. There is a fair amount of combat in the game but there's also a fair amount of problem solving which adds variation to the game and prevents it from descending into just another hack 'n' slash. Throughout the game you'll collect coins and as the game progresses you'll be able to purchase skill and health upgrades for each of the characters, which adds a nice touch to the game and means you could play through the game again and upgrade your characters in a different way if you want to. The game makes good use of each character's abilities and they actually feel like a team too. There are even team attacks were two characters will team up to perform a move. Not all of the levels in the game feature the four children though. You can also play the game co-operatively with a friend which is a welcome feature.
What's not so good about the game?
The biggest disappointment is that deaf gamers are not going to be able to follow the story because of the absence of subtitles. Whilst the game is pretty engaging, at times you'll soon notice you're performing the same tasks over and over again which means the feeling of repetition can become too much at times. For a story that's primarily aimed at children it's a shame that the team attacks actually look quite painful. For instance, if there's a huge chuck of ice in the way Edmund will throw Lucy into it to smash the obstacle. There's no blood or anything but it's rather peculiar to see an attack which looks like an outright assault on one of the main characters. You'll only control one character at a time and the other character (or characters if it's a level where more than two of the children appear) will be handled by the AI. The AI is actually pretty poor at helping out in a battle, especially if you come under attack, which is disappointing.
How does it look?
Graphically the game doesn't look too bad. As you'd expect the action sequences are tied together with snippets from the movie and the transition from film clips to game action is actually quite impressive. The character models all look quite close to the actors they've been based on which is good to see. The various environments in the game all look quite good. Rather than having to constantly manipulate the camera the developers decided to keep a fixed camera angle and for the most part this seems to work very well indeed. There are times when you wish you could change the camera angle but overall I suppose this was a wise choice as it gives younger gamers one less thing to be concerned with.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
For the most part we were quite pleased with The Chronicles of Narnia. However, when it came to how deaf gamer friendly the game is, it kind of all falls down. As we remarked earlier there are no subtitles. This means all the movie clips are pointless for deaf gamers and the same can be said for the cutscenes. Comments made by the characters during the game are also not subtitled. The timed sections of the game all have a clock on the screen so you can see how much time you have left. Warning messages are shown in text. For instance early on in the game when you have to hide from Mrs Macready, you receive a text warning which indicates that you have to hide. Tutorial messages are shown in text which is helpful of course but it's a small consolation when you can't enjoy the game's story. The game makes a decent use of icons to indicate what buttons need to be pressed, as well as what character needs to be used to perform a particular task.
As a game based on a movie that's been based on a book The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, it is actually quite enjoyable. The various levels can get quite repetitive and you find yourself doing various tasks over and over again but it does manage to hold your attention. The most appealing aspect of the game, the story, is lost for deaf gamers though and this puts a big question mark against whether the game is worth playing for deaf gamers. If you enjoyed the movie of the book, then you might want to give it a go, it is a good game after all, but essentially the experience is watered down somewhat from not being subtitled.
Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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For a game based on a movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is actually quite enjoyable. It's not a wonderful experience for deaf gamers though.