Great warriors and heroes in games need no introduction, Dante has a massive sword and big guns, Leon has his trusty shotgun and even Sly has his cane. We can add another trusty gaming hero to that list, Charlie, and he has his trusty gobstoppers, which immediately qualify as one of the worst weapons ever included in a game, who can be scared of a small little ball that all of us have likely eaten at one time or another? Admittably enough we're not really needing to be scared of the gobstoppers, but if we had gobstoppers in a chocolate factory we'd be eating them, not throwing them.
Charlie and the Chocolate factory is the latest movie to game adaptation to land on our desk, surely the wonderful, creative and imaginative world of Willy Wonka is the perfect setting for a game, but a lot of games are great in theory and poor in execution. So, as we took our trip to the factory we still had a glimmer of hope, is wild world of Wonka now a refreshing game experience or will the game leave you wish a sour aftertaste?
The initial startup of the game looks promising, there is a brilliant quality FMV introduction that chronicles the first twenty minutes of Charlie's adventure into a few short minutes and then you're dumped in the street, trying to chase a ten dollar bill to buy some chocolate. The first level of the game is a simple tutorial, and introduces you to the basic moves that Charlie posseses. It would be fair to expect a game based on the movie would follow the general storyline of the movie, but this is not the case with this title. After chasing the money until a high roof top, Charlie falls off and starts sliding down a mountain to try and save the bill. The developer (High Voltage Software) has basically extended a ten second activity in the movie to a ten minute level that completely deviates from the storyline from the very beginning; it isn't a very good beginning.
Still, tutorial levels normally have to deviate a little so you get used to the controls, so we were willing to offer a little grace before we got into the actual game. We were severely surprised by the actual goals of the game once we got into it though, the main objective of the game is to take control of the Oompa Loompas who are scattered around the game and order them to carry out tasks for you. The first task you have to do is save Augustus Gloop, this is done by commanding two Oompa Loompas to pump the chocolate out of the pump, after this can move onto the next mini level and carry out the next task there.
That's pretty much all there is to the game, there are a few mini games and some variations upon this, but overall the concept is very basic, and thus the game is a very linear title. If the environment of the game was created better then you may have wanted to explore the chocolate factory; but because the environments are so flat you're likely to just stick to the objectives.
The gameplay isn't just repetitive and boring, but the controls are just hideous. We cannot believe that the boy who ends up inheriting a huge chocolate factory cannot throw a gobstopper whilst running. For some reason Charlie will stop if you try to move whilst throwing a gobstoper which is a serious worry. As well as this, commanding an oopma loompa is difficult as well, and half of the time they will just stand there and not understand your commands, the game flashes the commands on screen to try and combat this, but all this does is annoy you more.
The controls are also a disappointment, not just because they are hard to utilise, but also because they are severely unresponsive. It was not uncommon for us to press a button, and have to repeat this process a few times before Charlie will pick up the box or object we needed to use. There is no need to worry about dying though, because if the controls do make you fall into a pond of mud you simply respawn, ready to take on more linear gameplay, this is frustrating because you sometimes have to repeat a task because of what is essentially a fault with the game, not with you.
One final annoyance to the gameplay (to cap off our memorable experience) is the camera. It is terrible, and will fly around without any control. As well as this the camera has a nasty habit of getting in the way of just about every object you'll encounter in the game, to say the gameplay in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is frustrating is a huge understatement.
Graphically the game fails to impress, i would say the game looks like one of the first Playstation 2 launch titles, but this would be a compliment. The environments are flat and simple, and the objects scattered around the factory are mainly placeholders, and don't really do much to affect the game. There are a lot of jaggies and as the environments are so small, you cannot help but feel a little clasutrophobic. The only real highlight of the game graphically are the cut-scenes, which look brilliant especially in comparison to the real game.
The sound is the real highlight of the game, and we assume this is just because the rest of the game is so average. The children from the movie all provide their voice to the game, and Willy Wonka is impersonate fairly well. The soundtrack is also fairly decent and sets the atmosphere of the game well, it isn't hard to see which part of the game recieved the most time.
The main mode won't last very long if you actually do have the patience to stick to it, there are no other modes to keep you entertained, so it's a relatively short experience, which is probably a good thing. In reality it is unlikely that you'll actually have the patience to play through the adventure completely though so the length is only a problem for the die hard fans.
Rather unsurprisingly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a below average game. We really wanted to like the game, especially because the movie was such a highlight, but unfortunately the game is let down by seriously poor gameplay problems such as linear gameplay, boring levels, poor camera and below average graphics. Platforming fans have so much more to look forward to than this game, so unless you're a jaded and die hard fan you're likely to be very disappointed with this game.