Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Disney's Bolt

Yes, that title is serious. I played through Bolt. I did this despite the fact that it's based on a kid's movie. And despite the fact that I haven't even seen said kid's movie.

What a man will do in the name of Achievement points...

Anyway, Bolt is a simple little 3D platformer. It doesn't really warrant a full review, so here are some quick hit points:

- Anyone who reads my stuff should hear "3D platformer" and instinctively think "How's the camera?" straight away. The answer: surprisingly competent. I can count the number of deaths I incurred as a result of the camera on one hand, which I consider acceptable.

- The game is divided into sections that use Bolt (the dog) and sections that use Penny (the girl who owns him). The Bolt sections are combat heavy, while the Penny sections are stealth/platforming based. I have to admit that Penny's sections were actually pretty amusing. The platforming is tight and is complemented by the solid camera. Penny uses this weird retractable stick thing with wheels on both ends to roll along ledges and up between vertical columns. She can use knockout gas bombs to knock out enemies as well, which helps with the stealth bits.

- However, the Bolt combat sections are really tedious. This game is not bashful about sending waves and waves of identical bad guys after you. Bolt has a small arsenal of attacks that he'll use over and over and OVER to dispatch these foes. It's hard to believe that a game about a dog that shoots lasers out of his eyes could be boring, but when the enemy roster consists of hundreds of generic drones, you can get tired of just about anything.

- As far as I understand the plot of the movie (I've only seen the trailer), it's about a dog that acts in a T.V. show but doesn't realize it, so it thinks it really has super powers. The game makes the smart decision to abandon that and instead have you play through a few "episodes" of the show so that Bolt really does have super powers. Kudos to the designers, because I suspect following the actual plot of the movie would have made for a dull game.

- Bolt isn't quite as short as a lot of kid's games, but it certainly isn't long either. I beat it in a couple days, with the full 1000 Achievement points coming shortly thereafter. Thus a rental is probably the way to go.

- Speaking of Achievements, the list is solid and mostly fair. My one complaint is that you need to collect a bunch of power ups that are hidden throughout the levels. There's a chapter select to replay specific levels if you want to target a power up you missed, but there's no indication of which levels contain the missing collectible. As always, it's best to follow a guide so you don't end up casting randomly around in the game hoping to find the power up that you missed.

Bolt is okay for kids who have a high tolerance for repetitive combat, but I wouldn't recommend it much beyond that. It does offer 1000 fairly pain-free Achievement points though!

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