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The Incredibles (Xbox) artwork

The Incredibles (Xbox) review

"The story of Bob Parr and his gifted family of superheroes (wife, Mrs. Incredible; children, Violet and Dash) is told inexcusably poorly. When you finish the adventure, you still wonít know what the movie is about."

Itís amazing how animated films are getting more and more sophisticated and more and more brilliant, while videogames based on these films remain consistently unremarkable. Itís as if a rule exists decreeing that every new groundbreaking computer animated feature be succeeded by a bland and completely forgettable game depiction. Regrettably, The Incredibles, for the Xbox, does its best to play by the rules.

Beyond the sharply realized visuals--mostly where the characters are concerned--the game is a limp homage to its movie namesake. The story of Bob Parr and his gifted family of superheroes (wife, Mrs. Incredible; children, Violet and Dash) is told inexcusably poorly. When you finish the adventure, you still wonít know what the movie is about. Even the GameBoy Advance version, with its slideshow between-level interludes, manages to do a far better job at telling us the tale.

This Xbox version plays like a series of disjointed and unrelated missions carried out by the Parrs, one at a time, for no reason that youíre aware of. Youíll play a mission with Mr. Incredible, have your progress saved, and then youíll be playing some other mission at a completely different locale as Mrs. Incredible. Then youíre Dash somewhere else. And so on. The seemingly arbitrary mission flow establishes a disconnect that fans will surely resent. And, of course, only fans would have found anything special here; beneath the slick facade the license presents, The Incredibles is a white bread action game without any noticeable highs or lows to be found.

The bruising Mr. Incredibleís moments in the spotlight are the most pedestrian and typical. Heíll jump and punch and toss things. Playing as his wife is quite a bit more interesting, as it calls into play her stretchy limbs to swing on lampposts and poke enemies off the edges of buildings. Violetís turn is a frustrating and abhorrent experience dodging inconsistent computer AI with her stealth talents. Her stealth powers run out of steam all too quickly, requiring constant recharging behind rocks and the like. To make matters worse, enemies find her often when she should be hidden, and overlook her when sheís in plain sight.

It's young Dashiel--Dash for short--who offers the player the best gameplay experience. His levels are first person perspective car races, only youíre not in a car, youíre in the heat-resistant shoes of a cocky little kid. Heíll get to race through city streets as well as navigate a wooded area and a dank cavern network. Heís so fast youíll even have him running on water. If not for the Dash levels, Iím not even sure Iíd have stuck with The Incredibles to its conclusion.

Itís unfortunate really, because the source material is so fresh and entertaining. Disney and Pixar have a cash cow phenomenon on their hands that is well deserved. This is what makes the gameís mediocrity all the more infuriating. Aside from the authentic look of the title, and perhaps also the jazzy and bombastic tunes, The Incredibles disappoints on every other level. It doesnít disgust us, but it doesnít impress us in the least either. The voices try to inject some of the movieís flavour into the proceedings, but then the characters say the same things over and over and over, turning something of charm to something of annoyance. In the end, the main draw here will be that fans are able to play something that looks just as cool as their beloved film, and enjoy some interesting fisticuffs with Mrs. Incredible and some exhilarating high speed juking and jiving with Dash. C'est tout. For those not at all interested in The Incredibles franchise, thereís much better action fare out there.


Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (May 30, 2011)

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