Review by Quilavatrainer

"A Game as Good as the Movie"

All movie companies follow the same strategy. After a movie is released, regardless of it was good or bad, the movie is made into a video game for the consoles. After Dreamworks released the movie Over the Hedge, a video game was made. But can these crafty little critters heist good scores? Or should this game be exterminated?

The story of Over the Hedge goes like this: A family of woodland creatures (Verne the overprotective turtle, Hammy the hyperactive squirrel, Stella the sassy skunk, and other woodland creatures) are in need of food for the upcoming winter. At the same time, a sly raccoon named RJ attempts to steal a wagon full of junk food from Vincent the bear. Soon, Rj convinces the woodland creatures to help him steal food from the humans of a suburban neighborhood located on the other side of a hedge. (Hence the movie title) Rj tries to pay Vincent back with the food heisted with the animals while keeping his plan a secret from Verne and the animals. Rj soon betrays the gang to pay up to Vincent by letting the animals get kidnapped by an exterminator (which the animals refer to as "The Sniffer") Rj changes his mind and goes back to rescue his captive friends as they dodge an angry Vincent, a paranoid real estate agent by the name of Gladys Sharp, and the Sniffer. In the end, the animals keep the heisted food and welcome Rj into their family. The beginning of the game takes place at the very end of the movie, and then tells the story of their heisting adventures afterwards. The game is fairly long for your average movie-based games but the plot isn't too in-depth or interesting. Just stories of the heists on each house in the neighborhood.

In the Over the Hedge game, you can play as Verne, Rj, Hammy, or Stella and use their weapons to heist food from the humans and fend off enemies. Verne has a hockey stick, Rj has a golf club, Hammy has a stick, and Stella has a plunger. You and a partner fight off rats and various animals that are under the control of the Sniffer such as beavers, rabbits, weasels, badgers, gophers, and bears. The characters can also throw projectiles to hit switches. The power meters allow you to charge up your attacks to become more powerful. You can find various foods such as pizza and cookies to restore your health. The characters can lift heavy objects to put pressure on switches and activate them. There are also several little movement detectors that will blast you if they detect motion. The animals can tip toe through to avoid setting them off. The game offers 2 player co-op and it's much more fun with a friend, but the computer AI is pretty smart. They don't die often and they actually pull their own weight when you pass the food on to them to load it into the wagon. You can jump on your partner's shoulders and together swing your weapon to deal twice the damage. The levels are divided into various objectives. It's best to look over your objectives as soon as the level starts so you know what to do. After you complete an objective, a window will appear on the bottom of the screen alerting you that the objective was accomplished. After you complete all objectives, you will either fight a boss, or return to the woods. The enemy AI for this game can get clever as the game progresses as they may single you or your partner off into a corner to hammer on them. There really aren't any puzzles in this game and will instead consist of fighting off several hoards of enemies throughout the level. The more objects you steal from the humans, the more decorated the forest becomes. But it really doesn't serve much of a purpose except being the team's centeral HQ and the added furniture and devices help the place look a little nicer. The game is really fun, but doesn't offer much of a challenge.

The music is decent. It only has the main theme from the movie, and the rest are new. They work for the most part. Some are fast paced or frantic to set the tone for you in the heat of battle, while others are just slightly unfitting. The sounds are good. All the characters are voiced by the same actors in the movie. The jokes are pretty funny.

The graphics aren't bad either. The cut scenes look like they were pulled right out of the movie and it really does look like a game based on a movie. The 3-D models are nice and the animations are smooth. The frame rate stays at a steady pace and never randomly drops or speeds up. The camera works well with only a few select areas in the whole game that can be difficult to see.

Besides the main story, there's some extra music to listen to, tons of concept art, a kart racing game, a golf cart style bumper kart, and a shooting range. Unfortunately, all of these mini games are for only 2 players and you can't play as Gladys or the exterminator. But who would want to play as those 2 anyway?

Overall, expectations must not be set too high for this game since it's based off a movie, but it is one of the most in depth movie games I've played. In my opinion, the movie was great and Activision takes a bold step of straying away from following the movie exactly, but is smart to not go completely far from the plot. The game play is smooth and I've yet to encounter any glitches. The music is decent and the voicing is satisfying. The graphics don't look too bad, and the cut scenes are outstanding. The game has plenty of other options to play, but you may only come back to it if you're a fan of the movie. Overall, It isn't perfect, but the game is very polished and well done.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/23/09

Game Release: Over the Hedge (US, 05/09/06)

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