Sunday, January 4th, 2004 at 8:48pm by Kelly, BZPower Co-Owner
Special guest review
The video game has now been out for a few months for PC, GameCube, PS2 and XBox. Numerous gaming magazines and web sites have reviewed the game on various platforms, and they have not been kind, usually giving unfavorable reviews. Those reviews were mostly written by adult gamers who may not have played it from a 9-12 year old's viewpoint. Fortunately I have a 9-year-old game-savvy Bionicle fan who has played the game and helped write a "real" review, from the viewpoint of the intended audience.
My son has been a Bionicle fan since 2001 and is also an accomplished video game fanatic. He's played the game several times and helped me determine how the game lives up to fan's expectations.
If you're expecting Zelda-level graphics and complex play, you're going to be disappointed. But frankly, I don't think that was the goal for this game. This is a game for Bionicle fans, and the main draw is to be able to be the Toa.
If you have read the standard video game magazines and web sites, chances are you read a review of BIONICLE: The Game that had many of the same complaints:
- The game is too easy.
- The game is over too quickly.
- The graphics aren't great.
- The camera viewpoint is clunky.
- There's not enough action.
- The characters are well animated, and have intriguing tools/weapons, but they don't use them to fight with.
- The sound effects are dated.
- The storyline is labyrinthine and convoluted.
There is some truth about the graphics - they're not as refined as other games. But that's a fairly minor complaint. The rest of the nits don't really take into consideration the entire Bionicle mythos and LEGO's self-imposed restrictions.
So let's see what our 9-year-old reviewer says:
- The game is too easy. 9-year-old reviewer: The game is kinda-sorta easy compared to Zelda-level games, but compared to others it's pretty good. I've played it for several hours at different times since we got it, and it's not boring. The game is very exciting - I usually get surprised on nearly every level.
- The game is over too quickly. 9-year-old reviewer: Not for me. I'm not bad on video games, but this is taking me a little while since I go back and try things differently sometimes. It doesn't drag along, there's almost always something going on.
- The graphics aren't great. 9-year-old reviewer: I agree with what my dad says, it isn't Zelda, but it's pretty good. The characters look a little different, like Onua looks shorter than the set and his mask is wider.
- The camera viewpoint is clunky. 9-year-old reviewer: That didn't bug me. If I stand in position for a little while, it switches automatically. I didn't notice it until my dad asked me about it.
- There's not enough action. 9-year-old reviewer: I'd say there's lots of action, without being too much. When there is action it's kind of intense. I definitely think there's enough going on.
- The characters don't use their weapons on each other. (Kelly's comments: LEGO has had a long history of employing amusing euphemisms for the Toa's accessories. They insist on calling them "tools" even though they are clearly axes, swords, chainsaws, and the like. The reasoning is the tools are merely the focus for the characters' elemental powers, which is a legitimate view. But in the video game realm, if you've got a sword, you use the sword as a sword. Not to do so breaks gamers' expectations. However, I don't see how LEGO could possibly have created sword-on-sword action without breaking their own rules. It's a definite conundrum.) 9-year-old reviewer: I wasn't surprised they didn't use their weapons that way. I'm used to them using their swords as a focus for their powers, so it didn't seem strange to me.
- The sound effects aren't great. 9-year-old reviewer: I kind of liked the sound, but sometimes I thought it could be better. It doesn't stink.
- The story is too complex. 9-year-old reviewer: (laughs) I wouldn't say that at all. Anybody who knows about Bionicle will be able to understand the characters and the storyline. That's one of the best parts of the game!
9-year-old reviewer: Overall, I think the game is really fun, and I think Bionicle fans especially would like it. And if you like action-adventure games, this game would be pretty good for you too.
Bottom line: Given the self-imposed restrictions that LEGO lives by, such as limited person-to-person conflict and their weapons-as-tools policy, the game is entertaining and a good addition to the Bionicle line. It may not hold the attention of gamers older than about 12, but for the intended audience it seems to be right on. Parents won't have much to complain about, violence-wise. This is a game my kids keep coming back to for the sheer fun of controlling the Toa, so I think of it as a good investment and worth what I paid for it.
For the intended audience, the game earns a score of 7.5 out of 10.
You can see more of the game in these previous stories:
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