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Dog's Life PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Frontier Developments
Released: Out Now
Price: £39.99

It's time for something completely different. Sick and tired of the same old shooters and platformers? Fed up with how you always control a human character? Well if you are here is a game that allows you to play as man's best friend. That's right Dog's Life allows you to play as Jake the dog. As you can imagine it's quite unlike any other game you've encountered before or likely to encounter again. Whatever else we say in this review it's 10 out of 10 for originality.

The games story is centred around Jake and the female dog that he desires, Daisy. At the beginning of the game the two are kidnapped (or should that be dognapped) by two ugly looking dimwits. They are placed into travelling boxes and loaded into the back of a van. The van only goes so far though before the doors of the van come open and Jake's box falls out and Jake manages to escape from his box. Jake makes it his job to rescue Daisy from wherever she is.

Throughout the course of the game Jake will travel across America and do all kinds of things as he searches for Daisy. Jake will have to eat and he can even cock his leg to urinate and arch his back to poo. Yes the game certainly has humour. Jake also has the ability to use smellovision. Pressing the triangle button will enable Jake to see smells (and yes they do emanate from the aforementioned poo). Jake will also be able to fetch, lie down, swim, beg and mark territory in the usual doggy fashion. In all there are 18 different locations within the game and there are plenty of things to do in each location.

Although Jake has the objective of rescuing Daisy you are free to do as you please and explore your surroundings how you want to. There are also some mini-games to unlock although these will be too easy for all but the smallest of children. To unlock these mini-games Jake has to collect various amounts of scents. In order to collect these, he will have to switch to the smellovision mode as the scents are otherwise invisible. Jake will also earn bones for completing challenges and doing various tasks. Bones are important as they help increase Jake's status. Walking up to another dog will show the amount of bones that Jake and the other dog has. The more bones you have the more chance you have of completing challenges against other dogs. Should you win a challenge with a dog you'll get to temporarily control them, which will allow you access to places that Jake couldn't go to previously or complete challenges for people that Jake couldn't have done before. In all there are 20 different breeds of dog to control.

Graphically the game is average and not representative of what the PlayStation 2 is really capable of. The biggest disappointment has to be the poor quality of the textures in the game as the look blurry and lack detail. The human characters all look quite poor too. Whilst the animations of the characters in general are slightly wooden it's the awkward feel of controlling Jake that you'll notice. He's not very agile and it can be awkward stopping and trying to turn without him walking backwards. Still this is only a minor complaint and doesn't harm the game. It is quite alarming how the framerate will often dip though especially when there appears to be little going on.

Dog's Life is one of those titles where some people will like it and others will think it's silly. However this is irrelevant for deaf gamers as the game isn't subtitled and therefore is impractical. Only the tutorial tips and mini-game instructions (the first time you play them) are shown in text and you'll simply not be aware of what's going on or of the verbal advice that is being given out, which is disappointing if you were looking to play as a dog. There is also plenty of gentle humour in the game and you'll be completely unaware of this also.

Dog's Life is another one of those games that could have been so much more. The concept of the game is a sound one and we especially like the way you can make Jake a helpful or unfriendly dog. If the game is played by a young child then it's going to last them a while and they will definitely get some enjoyment from the ease of the game. Older children and adults will find it far too easy though and will have the game completed in a couple of days at the most. To top it off for deaf gamers there are no subtitles which strips the story from the game and makes the whole thing seem bland. Ultimately it's a game deaf gamers probably should avoid or rent first if they are really interested in it.

Overall Game Rating: 4.0/10
Dog's life is a game primarily aimed at children but what could have been a short but decent title turns out to very unfriendly to deaf gamers through it's lack of text.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Deaf gamers will have no idea of the story and will be completely unaware of the numerous hints that are given out.