Traveller’s Tales has done a pretty good job with licenses over the years. They’ve turned a toy line in LEGO into one of the most adored and enjoyable gaming franchises over the past three years with LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones. With The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, TT have once again developed a game that successfully represents the emotion of the licence. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Prince Caspian is a fantastic title. What it is is a decent title with a few flaws that often plague movie-to-game titles that are rushed by theatrical release deadlines.
C.S. Lewis’ Narnia book series has seen two motion pictures, with Prince Caspian being the most recent. The game follows the story of the second book in that series and attempts to fill in any gaps that weren’t told in either the movie or book.
The game spans across 6 different maps which all vary in location and environmental atmosphere. The gameplay is fairly linear and more aimed at a younger audience, and the older, more hardcore gaming crowd won’t find much challenge in this title. The challenges vary from battles, building demolition and rescue attempts and while the actual direction you must take is linear, the order in which you undertake tasks isn’t, so I guess it’s a positive that you’re given some choice to achieve goals.
Character control isn’t overly inventive but is accessible enough, with each character having two separate attacks as well as an action button to pick things up and interact with the environment. While most of the action is rather easy and somewhat tedious and repetitive, there are moments where the battles get quite enjoyable, especially when you’re rushing through a horde of enemies wailing your weapon around the place.
The major problem with the gameplay is that it doesn’t evolve at all from the start of the game until the end. It’s fun at first, but then you’re just doing the same action over and over again. It would have been great to be able to unlock new moves or have a variety of moves, much like those included in Kung Fu Panda. Even when you upgrade your offensive or defensive, it’s just a momentary power upgrade that doesn’t really change in terms of execution, but rather in terms of effectiveness.
While the areas are fairly simplistic in design and clearly aimed at a younger audience, the puzzles can be applauded, even if they’re fairly easy. They are easy but still rather inventive and original and vary from area to area
Like the LEGO games where a second player can join in and take control of the secondary character, Prince Caspian allows for two-player co-op, although it’s all offline. Because of this, there is no split-screen and this causes troubles when one of the players walks off screen and the camera doesn’t know where to go. The multiplayer experience is fairly problematic and at times unplayable because of this and it’s disappointing to say that Prince Caspian is more enjoyable when played alone.
There are a lot of collectable and unlockables in each area that vary in use and reward. Some upgrade health while others unlock cheats and bonus areas, which give a little incentive for a second playthrough.
Graphically, Prince Caspian leaves a lot to be desired. It isn’t terrible, but looks like an early-generation XBOX 360 title, perhaps even a late-generation XBOX title, which isn’t saying much. The cut-scenes from the movies aren’t in HD and look very distorted with a fair amount of grain. The game runs perfectly on the 360 version, but reports have been made of significant slow-down on the Playstation 3 version.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian should please die-hard fans of the movies and/or books, as well as younger gamers looking for a decent adventure title. The gameplay is accessible and simplistic and there’s a fair bit to unlock. However, there isn’t much variation in the action and the multiplayer isn’t worth playing.