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Developer:
Traveller's Tales
Publisher: Buena Vista Games
Platform: PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC
Release Date: November 14, 2005

by Josh Ferguson




This winter, C.S. Lewis's beloved The Chronicles of Narnia will hit theaters when The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is released on December 9th. If that wasn't enough, an action/adventure game based on the film has recently been released for the three consoles and the PC. If The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe game is any indication of how good the film will be, then audiences will be in for one wild ride!


The story revolves around four siblings: Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy. However, their lives are magically changed when each of them wanders into the world of Narnia. Narnia is under control of the evil White Witch, who has cast the world into a 100-year winter. Our four heroes soon set out to defeat the White Witch and free Narnia from her control!


As you play through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the player will come in contact with several different obstacles. Often there will be obstacles that can only be completed by one certain character in your party. For example, there are times when you will encounter a burning branch and, in order to get past, you must use Susan to throw snow balls into the flames until they go out. In fact, each character is very different from one another. The oldest, Peter, is the strongest of the group and is also a fighter, while Lucy, the youngest, is the weakest and is used as a healer. Aside from Peter and Edmund, who both use swords, each character wields a different weapon as well.


When playing through missions, the player is not limited to one character, but has the ability to switch between anyone in the party. Sometimes all four of the characters will be available, but at other times there might only be two. Also, the game has the option of two-player mode, which is very useful, fun and recommended! Even if all four of the characters are thrown together into battle, this doesn't mean that all of the characters will actually attack. In fact, the character AI isn't exactly the most intelligent and often will just stand there while you attack the enemies. The AI characters also won't use any of their special moves, including the healer, Lucy. When the time comes that one of your characters is almost dead, which most likely will be your character because the enemies don't seem to attack the other party members, Lucy won't use her healing spells on you. Instead, Lucy will just stand there and maybe do an occasional attack. While this wouldn't be too bad if this was just occasionally, it happens very often and with most of the party. Most of the characters just stand there and are, honestly, somewhat worthless. The only good thing about them is that if the character you are using is low on health, you can switch to a different character, who will probably have almost full health. This is because, like I said earlier, the enemies only seem to attack the character that you are playing as.


The combat in the game is mostly hack n' slash, but a little different depending on the character you use. While Edmund and Peter use their swords in a hack n' slash manner, Susan is a little bit different. Not only does Susan have the ability to attack with her fists, spinning around slapping the enemies, she can also pull out her bow and shoot arrows. On the other hand, Lucy really doesn't do much attacking. Her attacking consists mostly of running into the enemy.


As far as skills are concerned, these are acquired by using the silver and gold coins found all over the maps. These coins are then used to purchase different skills, which cost a different amount depending on how powerful the skill is. Like I said earlier, each character has some different skills, but sometimes you can purchase a skill that will affect all of your characters, such as an HP plus skill and so on.


Characters can also do team up attacks which are normally used to break certain barriers in the way of your path. Depending on the two characters used, the team attack could be different. For example, a team attack between Susan and Peter might consist of her getting on Peter's back and shooting her bow, while a combination of Lucy and Edmund may consist of him tossing her forward. These team attacks can be used to hurt your enemies, but aren't that effective, and will probably only be used for, like I said, destroying barriers.


Graphically, the game is very well done. Not only are the characters detailed and have good resemblance to the actual movie characters, but the sceneries are beautifully done. These scenes are also varied, from snow covered forests to green fields.


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe also features actual clips taken directly from the film. While the clips are nice looking and add to the gaming experience, they still cause some problems. Because the game doesn't actually feature any sort of narration, during parts of the clips the player will really have no clue what's going on. And because the player doesn't know, it seems like the clips jump around a lot. Still, I'd much rather see actual clips from the film than not have seen them. On top of that, the four playable characters also did recordings for the voices in the game!


There is also a small section where different unlockable content is held. Some of these include extra levels and some videos of the actors recording the characters' voices. Trying to unlock all of these different items adds a little to the play time, but overall most of them aren't worth it, unless you really want to play the extra levels.


Overall, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a beautiful, action-packed game that fans of the genre will find very interesting. While there are some problems, such as the character AI, these won't be much of a problem in a multiplayer game. The game is highly recommended to both fans of the books and to those who love action gaming, such as EA's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.


Final Grade: 80%




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