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Shark Tale PlayStation 2

Published by Activision
Developed by Edge of Reality
Release Date: Out Now
Price : £39.99

It makes a change to review a game based on a film when I have actually seen the film in question. From the people who bought us the highly enjoyable Shrek films, Shark Tale is a film about a fish called Oscar who begins the film as a dissatisfied nobody washing whales, mistakenly gets labeled as a 'Shark Slayer', becomes important and gets to live at the top of the reef before finally realising he had everything he needed when he was a nobody. Add to this a shark who's a vegetarian who becomes Oscar's friend and you have the basis for a solid children's film (although personally I didn't think it was as good as the Shrek films). Shark Tale the game allows you to control Oscar but although you'll recognise several characters from the film, the game really doesn't have that much to do with the events in the film.

Shark Tale is essentially a child's game that is made up of a series of mini-games, called missions, that are tied together with cutscenes. Each mission has objectives that need to be completed and in addition there are also Bonus and Elite mission objectives that require a higher performance in the mini-games. Edge of Reality have found a nice balance with the missions in Shark Tale as they are both easy to learn and challenging to master. First of all you'll be helping Oscar to avoid the shark by pushing the left analogue stick in the direction indicated by arrows but in later missions you'll have to do rather more in order to succeed. There's also some nice original touches here too. Oscar will have to circle (swim around) certain objects to catch or interact with them. This might not seem like much but it means that your child won't be performing arthritis inducing button bashing actions all of the time which is important for young hands. The difficulty level increases comfortably too which again is important. If you're the kind of Mom or Dad that ends up playing the game with your children then you'll also find the game interesting, which says a lot.

Graphically Shark Tale has been very nicely done. If you've seen the film you'll instantly recognise the characters that have found their way into the game. The presentation of the game as a whole is spot on and you're not bogged down with any clumsy menus or such like. Camera angles have also been kept simple and as a result don't cause any problems which is just what's required with a game of this nature. The cutscenes are fairly interesting but have been kept fairly short so as not to keep you away from the action for too long, which is important. The underwater environments within the game all look good and if you have seen the underwater world in the film then this game will feel familiar as it has a similar look about it.

Subtitles are not enabled by default in Shark Tale but once enabled you'll be able to fully enjoy the cutscenes and most of what the game has to offer. The reason I say 'most of what the game has to offer' is because there is some speech that is not subtitled. An example of this is in the 2b mission where Oscar will swim into certain underwater houses and a character will speak to him (sometimes he'll have his health replenished whilst he's in the house as he gets offered food) but this speech is not subtitled. Whilst this doesn't cause any problems it's a little disappointing. Thankfully though the tutorial messages that Crazy Joe gives out are shown in text so you'll be able to learn the moves that need to be carried out. The mission objectives are all shown in text and can be recalled at any time by pressing the start button to access the pause menu.

Whilst Shark Tale might not be the ideal choice for the veteran gamers out there, it is a good title for children who have enjoyed the movie. The games missions are involving without being too complicated but at the same time offer a sufficient challenge as to maintain your child's interest. Even if you end up having to play chunks of the game yourself you'll find it rather enjoyable. Games based on movies are usually rather poor affairs but this year has seen a few exceptions to this rule. With The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay being a great title and now Shark Tale being worthwhile for younger gamers, the future is at last starting to look good for those of us who like to play games that are based on the latest movies which can only be a good thing.

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
Not many games that are based on movies actually prove to be worthwhile but Shark Tale is definitely one that younger gamers will enjoy.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Some speech isn't subtitled but it's nothing of real importance.