Grease (Wii) - Review by Chris
It's regarded as one of the best musicals in film history and no doubt holds a place in many adults' hearts, whether they'd care to openly admit it or not, and after the huge success that the license has seen on the stage worldwide, it's now time for the license to make the jump into the gaming market. Picking up the license, 505 Games and Paramount Digital Entertainment have teamed up to recreate the experience of the film and hopefully bring it to a new audience that never saw the movie. But with a small selection of mini-games and little in the way to sustain play for more than a couple of hours, is this simply a cheap cash-in or does it manage to hit the high notes?
Grease: The Game is split into a small selection of modes, foremost of which is the game's Story Mode which covers the events of the film so if you're not a fan, then immediately out of the gate the game is something you won't care for. In here, you'll choose a character to represent your actions on screen from a collection of caricatures based on the main characters from the film and then go on to recreate key moments from the events of the film, playing out as series of 10 or so mini-games, some following the events of the films closer than others. Many of the mini-games which you'll encounter in this mode, and indeed in every other mode that the game offers, are 'dancing' based, highlighting the key musical numbers from the film. There are a few deviations from these dancing games, such as repairing a car, a driving mini-game and a Guitar Hero-esque mini-game, but they offer little variation to the overall formula. They're very basic in their design, generally asking you to swing the Wii-mote in a certain direction in time with an on screen marker, and if it weren't for the license attached to it, there wouldn't be nothing particularly standout about them.
Recounting the events of the film in Story mode will only last you an hour at the most, meaning that everything is over much quicker than the film itself. It therefore falls to the game's other modes to help pick the game up but given how basic everything is, it never really extends the gameplay by much. A Quick play option allows you to replay the various mini-games on offer, either in single player or in multiplayer, with leaderboards helping to add a level of competition to the game's proceedings. Party mode is the only other mode on offer, and it allows you to set up game's for up to 8 players taking it in turn. It's a nice touch that allows everyone to get involved but with the game's main issue being its lack of content and inability to sustain any enjoyment for long periods of time, you'll rarely get much out of this mode, or any for that matter.
The ability to hook-up a USB microphone and sing along to the song's from the film is also included, but setting this up is a chore and it adds nothing to the overall gameplay. If you're a fan of the film, this is perhaps where you'll take the most delight in the game, as virtually all the songs from the film are included for you to sing along to. A scant selection of unlockables in the form of some extra characters from the film who you can chose as your avatar when playing and hidden away pieces of music from the film, which can take the place of other pieces for certain mini-games, are all that the game provides in the way of sustaining playability, besides the multiplayer, but it's a very small selection of unlockables that you'll fully unlock by completing the story mode. As such, what is on offer here fails to entertain you for anything more than a couple of hours at best.
Mainly motion based, the game is easy to pick up and play thanks to the chosen control setup. You'll simply swing the Wii-mote in a specified direction and occasionally, you'll have to undertake a more rigorous shaking of the controlled but that's about it. A few button presses are also thrown in for good measure in a few of the mini-games but generally, things quickly become a waggle fest as poor implementation of the Wii-mote's motion capabilities mean you can generally get away with shaking the controller in any direction to get through the games and the game can't detect the difference in the swing. Yet while there is this issue which would normally make things easier than they should be, the game at times will rarely register any of your swings meaning you'll quickly start to drop points in many of the mini-games.
The game's visuals take on a cel-shaded look that accentuates elements of the characters and the style of the movie. However, the overall presentation is average at best. Textures are generally blurry and low resolution in presentation, although they manage to hit the standard for budget release titles. The locations for the mini-games are representative of what you'd see in the film but they're very basic, as you'll see plenty of jagged edges, and a static camera ensures you'll only ever see a small part of the locations and most of the time, the camera doesn't show off the best of what has been presented. Most of these locations will be filled with 2D character sprites to give the illusion of a crowd but this is again of a poor quality. Luckily, you won't have much time to take notice of them.
Character models bear some resemblance to their movie counterparts in some cases but most of them are far removed from the actual stars, who haven't leant their likenesses to the game. You'll only see a few of these 3D characters on screen at a time, which doesn't help to elicit the same memories the movie does with the big musical numbers looking and feeling downplayed here. They are animated well enough in their dance routines, which have been toned down somewhat from the movie, but you will see the occasional bit of off movement between certain moves that looks far from being natural.
As you'd expect, the game contains virtually all of the songs from the movie and while they're not the original recordings, they remain largely the same as the movie counterparts albeit, with the occasional note and tone changes that make them sound more like the karaoke versions you'll find at any karaoke bar. The same goes for the vocals, which aim to evoke the same likeness of the film's stars singing them but ultimately end up sounding more karaoke than they really are. It all still manages to sound and definitely fits more with the style of game on show.
Grease: The Game is a short, simple and occasionally fun party game that ultimately falls short of offering up anything substantial to entertain for any considerable period of time. Content is pretty bare bones and while the game does support up to 8 players in multiplayer, providing a nice way to get everyone involved, the actual mini-games themselves are repetitive and wholly unintuitive, quickly dragging the game down into monotonous territory, even with the ability to sing along to your favourite songs from the movie. If you're not a fan of the film then you'll get very little pleasure out of this licensed product and while die hard Grease fans will enjoy the trip down memory lane, you'll soon opt for something else to entertain.
Pro: A nice trip down memory lane if you love the movie, songs can be enjoyable to sing
Con: Mini-games are very basic and repetitive, control issues throughout, won't keep you entertained for long
Final score: 4.8
|Publisher:||505 Games / Paramount Digital Entertainment|