Scooby Doo has been around for over thirty five years now, two real-life Hollywood movies have come out and there have been heaps of games appearing on all the major consoles. Scooby Doo isn't exactly the first game that comes to your head when you think of a platforming title, and yet despite this the talking dog has already made two appearances on the Playstation 2 with Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights and Scooby Doo! Mystery Mayhem. Whilst these games weren't particularly memorable, they weren't exactly an abomination either, so THQ have released a third Scooby title with Scooby-Doo! Unmasked. But is the game any good, or is it starting to go to the dogs?
The game isn't strictly based on platforming, and is best described as an action adventure title. The story is fairly weak, players assume the role of Scooby Doo, as he and the Mystery Inc. team visit Fred's cousin Jed, who is a monster movie set designer. Upon doing so they'll find Jed has disappeared and his animatronics are out of control, sending monsters haywire and making Jed the prime suspect.
The game is a little different to your traditional platformer, and takes place in differently themed worlds. In each level (there are over thirty in the game) Scooby must collect clue pieces that Velma needs in order to begin piercing the mystery together. Once enough clues are found, Velma will quiz you on different clues from the level, getting them correct will unlock the next level. There are also secret areas that enhance Scooby's hitpoints.
One of the newest features of the game is the ability for Scooby to change costumes. By changing costumes Scooby is given certain powers which are unique to the costume. If you cannot solve a clue, then the idea is to find the special ability costume which will allow you to do something unique to solve the puzzle.
We only encountered slowdown in very rare parts of the game, which was barely noticable. The vast level design keeps things refreshing, and Scooby Doo visits many locales that mock their real life counterparts. It's a little disappointing that you're not given the option to play as other characters, as this could have made a second play through a little more appealing.
The AI in the game isn't as good as we'd hoped either, some of the enemies feel a little stupid, and it becomes a little easy beating them; it would have been nice to face some sort of challenge. Controlling Scooby is fairly easy, and you're unlikely to have any problems navigating from platform to platform because of the controls. Scooby has a wide range of moves, such as climbing, swinging, spinning and breaking crates.
The camera can sometimes be a bit out of control, while this doesn't happen too often, the camera isn't perfect and can become stuck in certain places of the game.
Graphically the game looks fairly good, just bordering on the line of being cel-shaded, so it captures the look of the cartoon very well. For some reason the game doesn't look very bright anymore, which does give the game a bit of a darker feel. The CGI doesn't look as good as it could though, and often leaves the action looking a bit rough around the edges, this is more apparant than in-game, but if you look close enough you will realise it appears there as well.
We have to commend A2M for the voicework, there are celebrities through the game, with Adam West being the stand out. The humour in the game is more than we had come to expect from a child's title, but the music sometimes feels a little out of place, and doesn't make us feel like "there is mystery about". The real actors haven't leant their voices for the main characters, but THQ have got some actors that sound very similar to the real life counterparts.
The lifespan of the game is a huge disappointment, most people will be able to play through the game in its entirety within three to four hours. There are a few incentives to keep you returning to the game, which include a character art gallery and a monster encyclopedia, but this isn't enough. The thirty levels are just disappointingly short and easy.
This game is the best in the trilogy of games that has appeared on the Playstation 2. If you're a fan of the cartoon, or the last two games then you're likely to be very entertained by what's on offer here. The game isn't exactly deep, but we weren't expecting it to be. The main criticism we'd have is that the game is over far too quickly. Even kids may feel a little ripped off by the short length, considering there really isn't much to come back to once the game has been completed.
However, as far as kids games go this one is actually surprisingly decent, it seems the developer A2M have learnt a few things, and the series is continually getting better. The game isn't perfect, and it still isn't a memorable adventure, but we're pleased that it is improving, but to be a memorable adventure it still needs to be a little longer, and have more memorable levels and a longer lifespan.