Reviewed by Jimmy | 10.02.06
Open Season is Sony Pictures Animation first attempt the animated kid's movie which has been translated into a game. Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher lead the pack in this tale of a forest ranger and her pet Grizzly bear Boog. Walk with me in this digital forest of humor and high jinx as we explore Ubisoft's adaptation of Open Season.
Since Open Season the game was released before the movie and can only speculate that it follows a similar storyline. It's cute and fun like most other animated kids movies. This time around we have the Yogi Bear formula being put to work as a domesticated bear named Boog falls into trouble with a newly found friend, Elliot a mule dear. Elliot's timing couldn't be any worse considering it's the start of hunting season and the two find themselves in the worst place, the woods. Open Season continues on a standard affair of circumstances which all come together nice at the end. Open Season is just interesting enough to keep adults motivated while playing the game, kids on the other end should enjoy the story and characters.
Open Season is played in the third person perspective and for the most part you will be controlling the big grizzly Boog. Although, Boog isn't your typical aggressive Grizzly he has a talents which help you in your adventure. In a first for me, you have the ability to smell out items and health berries, nose controls, is that next gen? Boog can also pick up and throw items and he can utilize his lungs and burst out a vicious growl to scare any humans around. These qualities help Boog survive in the wild and they are upgradeable during your game as well.
The controls for Open season are simple and easy for anyone to understand. Open Season is geared for kids and they shouldn't have a problem with the controls or figuring out what they should do in the game. The adventure is laid out before you and there only one path to progress the game. None of the lacks seemed too hard, as I see it; it's more based around having fun. In total you will have 25 levels to complete each with secret items scattered about.
The levels themselves range from the basic follow a path and complete an objective to my personal favorite, "Mine Shafted". Mine Shafted is a level in which you ride a speeding mine cart through a labyrinth of tracks, jumping and twisting your way past perils. Each level tries to have a theme attached to it and most succeed by being different, but at times it can be a little slow especially when dealing with hunters. Along with the main game you also unlock four mini-games which are accessible from the main menu. Like any other game the mini-games give a nice break from the pace of the story.
I must admit a few times while playing through Open Season I was stuck with some innovative gameplay ideas. I shouldn't be so naive to think a kid's game has to be basic and boring because Open Season pulls out a few tricks from under Ubisoft sleeves. Right of the bat you'll get a feel of what I'm talking about when you as Boog has to his owner Park Ranger Beth by shaking his head up and down for yes, and side to side for no. So simply, you just tit your head using the analog stick to the appropriate answer. It's not groundbreaking, but little touches like show the developers didn't sleepwalk through this title.
One thing that puzzled me about Open Season is the long load times between levels. For an Xbox 360 title, this is one of the slowest level loads I've seen. It's not going to make me quit the game, but it's a little inconvenient if you have impatient kids waiting to play, or see the game. Aside from the long loads one benefit the Xbox 360 version over all the others is the ability to rack up achievements. If you're looking for an easy score Open Season is a good place to search. The achievements are fairly standard and are mostly broken down to completing a level, and completing the level perfectly. Of course there are a thousand offered up, so if your hooked on those digital bragging points, hook up Open Season for a rent and maybe you'll be surprised and find some enjoyment along with a host of new points.
The graphics in Open Season are nothing too spectacular, but do their job capturing the likeness of the film. On the good side would be the characters in the game which are the most detailed part of Open Season. The surroundings fall into a more teetering level of being crisp in colour with a strong design, but the overall design is very basic and a little bland after the first glance.
Unfortunately the cast wasn't hired on to do the audio overdubs in Open Season which always hurts movie tied games. I didn't like the Martin Lawrence sound alike at all and I though he lacked enthusiasm when delivering his lines. Besides the voice overs the rest of the audio quality in Open Season is decent and helps push the score reasonability back up. Open Season is a perfect example of movie game which has a fairly strong presentation, but is hurt in the end because the studio could, or didn't want to license out the real voice talent.
Open Season is an average game based on another kid's animated movie. Fans of the movie should find some enjoyment in Ubisoft adaptation; other might want to skip this one. If you're not into the movie or cute fuzzy forest animals then Open Season doesn't offer up much to the causal gamer, especially with the voice mimic talent they found for the production. If I had to choose I'd grab the Xbox version for the lower price and save the other cash to see the movie in the theater.