|System: PS2, DS, PS3, X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Avalanche Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 18, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
Disney has recently released the movie Bolt, and it's what you'd probably expect: a very warm, fuzzy animated movie obviously geared toward kids. With every such movie, the next logical step on Disney's part is to quickly release a partner video game, typically a cheap cash-in released on as many platforms as possible designed simply to get some uninformed parents to pick up the game for a child's birthday or, in this case, the holiday season.
Unfortunately, Bolt pretty much follows that formula to the letter. While there are some occasional standout characteristics that gave me a little hope for this game, for the most part it's an extremely formulaic, over-simplified action game with no depth and lots of repetition.
I mentioned there are a few notable aspects of this game, and the first is the way the story is set up. Most licensed games simply rehash the plot of the movie, but Bolt does things a little differently. In order to give players (who the development team assumes have seen the movie) some fresh content, the plot is merely based off that of the movie.
In Bolt, there is a TV show staring the game's titular hero. The movie itself is all about the animal actor and his adventures outside of this TV show, but the game follows the plot of the fictional TV show. It's a fairly clever use of a pre-existing plot device. But, aside from being creative, there's not a whole lot to say about Bolt's story. Bolt and Penny work together to defeat Calico, a typical villain with a nefarious plan up his sleeve. The story is not at all engaging and the storytelling is no better.
Actual gameplay is divided between Bolt and Penny, and neither section is particularly fun. The portions of the game where you play as Bolt are focused on combat and, as a result, are extremely monotonous. Bolt does have a few special attacks that are kind of fun such as his Sonic Bark, but your use of these attacks depends on your energy bar; consequently, most of your fighting will be made up of Bolt's regular attacks.
This wouldn't be such a huge deal, except for the fact that there are a lot of enemies to fight. You'll be using Bolt's standard, generic attacks to take down the majority of these baddies, so it should be easy to see why combat becomes so repetitive. Even Bolt's special attacks aren't that complex; when there's this much emphasis on combat in a game, there needs to be some added depth or complexity to keep things interesting. Sadly, there's absolutely none in Bolt.
The sections where you play as Penny, on the other hand, are more focused on platforming and stealth. At first, I was actually pretty impressed by these parts of the game. The stealth sections initially showed some promise; sneaking around guards in order to achieve objectives was cool. But then I came to the unfortunate conclusion that, when I was found out, I could easily take out guards. In fact, taking them out once they found me was easier than sneaking around them. What the heck? A stealth game where stealth is completely unnecessary is a good example of a game that successfully undermines its most promising gameplay feature.