Brave: The Video Game PlayStation 3 Review

Brave: The Video Game PlayStation 3 Review

Disney Pixar movie tie-ins do not have the best track record, but Behaviour Interactive Inc.’s latest effort on the PlayStation 3 is a surprisingly robust affair that manages to appeal to a wide audience. Step into the limelight, Brave: The Video Game.

Coming from the house that brought the world CGI animated movie hits such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Up, and Monsters, Inc. the next inevitable, worldwide smash hit is none other than Brave, a story of a young girl, named Merida, who goes on an epic journey across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland in an attempt to overturn a beastly curse that she inadvertently unleashed upon the land. The problem is, she simply doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of her mother, Queen Elinor, and become a princess adored by all. Instead, she envies her father’s strength, and sets out to use her sword and archery skills in order to become more like King Fergus.

Cue a third-person adventure set against the backdrop of mythical locations, dripping with atmosphere, but somehow lacking the crystal clear quality of the silver screen source material, despite being on powerful hardware running in smooth High Definition. Merida is viewed from a three-quarter, top-down viewpoint with the camera automatically following the action, never once allowing the player to manually control it, which works for the most part, but proves moderately problematic when performing tricky platform leaps and attempting to locate secrets. Instinctively, many will resort to twiddling the right analogue stick to control the view, as per most other games, but in this instance it has been allocated to the firing of arrows in various directions.

As players guide Merida through the various stages on offer, each one unlocking after the last one has been scoured completely and all objectives within cleared, there are hordes of enemies thrown at her, all of which have elemental weaknesses. As Merida collects more element abilities en-route to the finale, upgrading weapons as she goes, it is possible to flick quickly from the likes of earth, fire, wind, and ice to make best use of the relevant power in the situations faced, be it killing monsters quickly, uncovering secrets, or activating triggers to open new routes through a level.

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Whilst not seemingly overly deep, Brave: The Video Game manages to just about get the balance right in relation to making this appealing enough to the younger crowd and the more mature audience that also enjoys Disney Pixar efforts, with part of this being thanks to the range of difficulty levels and extras to find.

The beauty of Brave is, indeed, that on the surface it looks like a barebones attempt at shoe-horning the movie’s theme into an identikit third-person romp full of melee encounters. Yet, ,the further in the player delves, the more it becomes apparent that the developer has intricately woven as much of the new Disney Pixar epic into the end product as possible, so as to give a real feeling of purpose when venturing forth. This attention to detail is complemented by how Merida constantly talks while wandering around, with Kelly Macdonald’s lilting Scottish accent pouring forth from the speakers on a regular basis, revealing gentle hints for those less mindful of the main tasks at hand, as well as spouting some comical phrases from time-to-time for good measure.

When it comes to actual gameplay, you’ll be running about, leaping over obstacles, wall-jumping to new ledges, slashing things with your sword and firing off endless arrows, often taking the chance to despatch large groups of foes in the swiftest manner possible.

At certain stages there are breaks for gorgeously animated 2D cut-scenes, as well as some regular in-game sections, but the actual gameplay is also split to give players a momentary pause from the main action. Not only has Merida’s mother been transformed into a bear by the curse, but her triplet brothers have also fallen fowl of the blight. Players have the chance to thwart onslaughts as the bear mother, pounding the ground in rage, charging forwards or simply using her sharp claws, swiping wildly. Additionally, and more intriguing than the bear brawling, the triplets are used for minor puzzle scenarios. Here you can select one at a time and pull switches or stand on pressure pads (and so on) to reach a final lever that opens the way for Merida later on. These asides are masterstrokes to prevent the button-mashing action from growing too tiresome.

Brave: The Video Game is by no means perfect, with a sometimes awkward automatic camera that causes some issues with platform jumping, but it is clear that the development team has worked hard to ensure this is no quick cash-in, formulating a deep third-person adventure that requires skill and tactics to get the most out of the experience. A very welcome accompaniment to the highly enjoyable movie.

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3 out of 5