XBOX REVIEW: The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
Good movie adaptation
Great graphics
Co-op mode
Simplistic
Short

A game based on the movie based on the book....what a novel idea. by Cole Smith

December 12, 2005 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe does an excellent job of paying homage to the book and movie of the same name. It's definitely aimed at kids, but then again so is the book and the movie. It's done so well and contains so much variety that all gamers will find something to like about it.

Videogame adaptations of movies are typically poor but The Chronicles of Narnia appear to be anything but a rushed production. The gameplay is well paced and features a lot of variety since the playable characters all have different abilities that you will need to harness and exploit to achieve your objectives.

The Chronicles of Narnia is kind of like an amalgam of Lord of the Rinds, The Wizard of Oz and Lemony Snicket. It's heartwarming, funny, engrossing and frightening. It stars a gang of siblings, Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmond that uncover a strange and wondrous world within their own home.

In the back of a wardrobe closet exists the enchanted world of Narnia, filled with all kinds of mythical creatures such as Centaurs, Minotaurs and Cyclops with other real-life beasts such as wolves and lions. The land has been plunged into eternal winter by the White Witch. With the help of the four children, the rightful heir to the throne, Aslan the lion, will be restored and the land of Narnia will cast its frozen shawl.

All four characters are playable at various times. Each has their own distinct ability but you can pair them up to perform some special moves. Peter is the strongest of the bunch. He's used to move things, fight enemies and also has the ability to melt ice. Susan has experience throwing tennis balls but in this winter wonderland she can throw snowballs to take out enemies. She also is able to launch fiery arrows which can clear a path through a thick thicket. Lucy is small and capable of getting into tight places and can be thrown to reach high areas. Ed is capable of scaling walls and poles. He is used as a lookout as well as for throwing switches.

One of the funnier combination moves is when Peter swings Ed over his head using his face like a hammer to smash enemies and other objects. More moves can be purchased with the coins that you collect on your adventure. Some moves will allow you to kill certain enemies with one hit. You can also purchase health potions in addition to various ranged and melee attacks.

You will need your puzzle solving skills for just about every leg of the adventure. Not only will you need to figure out ways to cross chasms and frozen rivers, open gates and shatter barriers but you'll also need to use your brain during combat to best utilize the various skills of each individual character when confronted by the different enemies. There are a lot of interesting challenges that you will be confronted with but none of them are particularly difficult. There are different ways to accomplish some objectives and you never feel particularly forced to use a certain character although there are times when you would be foolhardy not to. When crossing a frozen river to collect coins for instance, it's better to let Lucy find the best path since she's lighter and won't fall through.

At any time during the gameplay another player can join in on the action without having to change modes or otherwise upset game in progress. The two players can then play as any of the other characters in the game, even teaming up with each other as Susan rides piggyback on Peter, throwing projectiles while the other player controls Peter's direction. Co-op play can be abandoned at any time and the game will continue with the single-player once again regaining control of all four characters. This come-and-go feature is an excellent one but it can only be selected by the single player so as to eliminate needless butting in from potentially annoying players.

You can go back and visit other areas to look for more items. The CPU keeps track of the ones that you've already collected so you can't go back for more of the same thing. There are some bits of trial and error that will keep you playing some levels longer that you might appreciate. Overall the game can be beat in an afternoon and other than the co-op mode there isn't much incentive to replay the game but you can always try to look for more goodies and you might want to try solving some of the puzzles differently.

This is a very pretty looking game. The environments possess a sense of depth that makes them appear very realistic. They are interactive and even when covered in snow they generate an aura of warmth. The characters are well rendered and their personalities are revealed through cutscenes and great voiceovers. There are lots of background detail and animations that really bring this fantasy world come to life. Amidst various ice castles and frozen forests you can see what appears to be hundreds of animals and creatures roaming about. Some of the monsters such as the Cyclops display a tremendous sense of scale. At times I felt like I was playing a version of Jason and Argonauts.

Particle effects replicate falling snow, water, fire and smoke to a degree of realism typically reserved for computer animated movies. Speaking of which, the games is so well aligned with the plot of the movie I would recommend seeing the movie first since the game is bound to spoil the surprises for you.

Even though there is combat in the game it's not a blood fest. The killing is downplayed in favor of puzzle solving. There are plenty of non-lethal techniques at your disposal such as stealth and the ability to incapacitate enemies such as putting them sleep and then sneaking past them. The relative ease of the gameplay and the downplay of violence makes this an excellent game for kids of all ages - yet it's not completely sucky. A first-rate adventure for everyone.

Features:

  • Live the epic adventure while playing as one of four heroes in a team-based action adventure.
  • Battle the evil forces of the White Witch by waging war against a huge variety of creatures, including Centaurs, Minotaurs, Minoboars, Cyclops, Werewolves, Wraiths, Ankleslicers, Wolves, Satyrs, Boggles and more.
  • Utilize the unique combat skills, weaponry and special moves of each character to fight and fend off hordes of dark mythical beasts, or solve intricate puzzles and progress through the adventure.
  • Two-player action featuring all four characters
  • Seamless game play integration of film footage with music and voice talent plus unlockable secrets to open exclusive content and more.

By Cole Smith
CCC Reviews Editor

Rating out of 5
The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (GC)
4.8
Graphics
Stylish with lots of depth and detail. A storybook fantasy come to life.
4.4
Control
Tight control system. Ability to control the different characters that have different abilities keep the gameplay fresh.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voiceacting is movie quality. The soundtrack is fitting and features a nice variety of tunes.
3.8
Play Value
Other than the Co-op mode there's not many reasons to re-visit this enchanted land. You've already helped them conquer the White Witch, how many times do you have to prove yourself?
4.2
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: X, PC, PS2 (shown), GC
Dev: Traveller's Tale
Pub: Buena Vista Games
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best