I've reviewed some truly terrible Wii launch games of late, some equally poor licensed offerings. I'll tell you from the off that Ubisoft's videogame version of Sony Animation's Open Season
movie isn't a terrible game. It isn't a great game but then, it isn't really a game. If you can drag your way through this review, I'll try and think of joke while I'm writing it to reward you. No promises...
Once you've got going, probably botched the name entry element at the beginning because there's no consistency between third-party Wii titles, and you pressed the wrong button, you'll probably notice one thing. Open Season
is a pretty good-looking game. The graphical style of the movie has been (somewhat) retained and the resulting virtual world is well detailed and feels familiar, even if you've only seen the endless loop of trailers on your TV...
Indeed, the graphics actually carry the title from the terrible zone and into the actually quite acceptable. The forests are sumptuous and fertile, the water looks like water, very nice water actually; with caves and snowy peaks equally well-rendered. Given what Open Season
actually is: a way of further monetising IP, I'm actually quite surprised at the level of investment in making the game-world so rich. Ubisoft could have
gotten away with much less and this is to the publisher's credit...
Understand that the game is broken in some areas: the game-world is buggy, at times threatening to ruin the title completely. But those bugs are pretty bugs. Well, it's something.
It starts to go wrong with the audio. Never in 25 years of playing videogames have I encountered a sound bug of such epic proportions as the one in Open Season
. To scare away hunters you must approach them, hide then build up a growl meter that you unleash to send them scurrying away. This whole process is explained every single time you encounter a hunter, which must be several hundred. It happens so often that in many cases it's still playing when it's activated for a second, third, 52nd time. My wife was in my office for about ten minutes while this review was taking place (having sex twice during a review is essential. There. A 'joke' about poor sexual performance.), and said, “How can they expect anyone to be forced to listen to that and not just turn it off or smash it up?” That about sums it up.
The rest of the audio is similarly bugged. Voices drop, in-game elements such as the Pocket Simon-style duck call communicator comes and goes. In-game audio drops in and out and much of it isn't properly prioritised, meaning that at times, incidental game noise will play over a plot-developing dialogue piece. These faults should not have been included in any offered build, they should have been picked up by Ubisoft's QA team and should not have been over-looked by Nintendo. The problem with the hunter instruction actually succeeds in ruining the game, making it unplayable in un-muted form.