|System: X360, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Panic Button||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 18, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
It's rather hard to completely botch a rail shooter. Stuff pops up, the player shoots it. The camera moves a little. More stuff pops up. The player shoots it.
Somehow, though, developer Panic Button managed to get it all wrong with Attack of the Movies 3D. It's not completely unplayable, but it's thoroughly uninspiring, and the gimmicky if well-executed 3-D effect can't salvage it.
The idea here is that in six short stages, you can play through various action-movie tropes alone or with up to three friends. There are robot and alien-insect invasions, of course, and the other settings include a zombie-infested graveyard, deep sea, and outer space. This could have been fun if the developers had loaded the game with movie references and clever gags. Instead, it seems they based the stages on movie clichés to avoid having to come up with an actual plot.
Of course, plenty of video games are great despite poorly executed or nonexistent plots. This is not one of them. Where other rail shooters (Dead Space: Extraction, House of the Dead Overkill, and the two Wii-exclusive Resident Evil games) are pushing the envelope with interesting mechanics (limb-shearing in Dead Space, for example), clever set-pieces, funny dialogue, and challenging boss fights, Attack of the Movies just throws a bunch of generic enemies and bosses at you and lets you shoot them with the level's weapons of choice. Sometimes the enemies are hard to see, obscured behind your HUD. Even the power-ups are lame, rarely doing anything beyond adding health and adjusting the rate of fire of your weapon.
If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing to entertain you but this game, it would be better than nothing. Also, we suppose that the game's family-friendliness will be a plus for parents (the ESRB rated the game T in part for "Animated Blood," but we didn't really notice any). However, when there are so many other options for shooter fans, even young shooter fans, it just doesn't cut it. Stick with Link's Crossbow Training and the Metroid Prime games, kids.
Putting the 3-D effects aside (you have the option of turning them off), the graphics are pretty abysmal. The enemy models and animations are crude, the textures provide little in the way of detail, and the environments, while not quite ugly, aren't good-looking, either. For a game that's supposed to feel like a summer blockbuster action movie, it looks awfully cartoonish and unpolished.
The 3-D effects themselves are the only thing that makes Attack of the Movies stand out at all. If you buy the game, it comes with four pairs of glasses, but our rented copy worked just fine with a cheap pair we bought online. When enemies hurl projectiles at you, the effect is quite striking, and it's easier to spot your foes when they pop out of the screen a bit. Some might find the 3-D fatiguing, but because the stages are so short and there's really no reason to play this game for hours at a time, we didn't have a problem.
Except for true 3-D obsessives, this won't make this terrible game worth buying, but it does make us excited for the future of 3-D shooters. On a game that wasn't otherwise a complete failure, these effects would provide an enhancement rather than a gimmick.
The sound is handled reasonably well. The shooting effects can be slightly weak sometimes, but the music sounds like it comes from a real Hollywood movie. Like the 3-D, it won't save the game as a whole, but at least you can suffer through all the mediocrity with some decent tunes.