My only real criticism of the levels themselves is the few “first person” sections. These small stages allow the player to survey a scene for clues, and then the level promptly ends. The only action taken by the player is moving Garfield’s view with the stylus, until they locate the entrance to the next level. No movement of Garfield is involved. These little mini-levels had more potential, I think, and I would have liked to explore a small room or area in first-person, seeking out the clues for myself instead of just panning around until my view rested on them. This first-person view is used occasionally in the side-scrolling levels too, but even there it is limited to scoping out the situation.
Exploring the fully 3D rendered world of Garfield 2 is an easy pleasure, because Game Factory has put considerable work into the graphics. For a licensed title, Garfield 2 is actually a pretty game. Each level is modeled and textured with good attention to detail. Polygon levels are on par with the scenery in Nintendogs, and the textures are crisp and vibrant for a DS game. Garfield does look a little rough when viewed up-close, but since the camera is panned out most of the time his appearance isn’t a problem. At a medium distance he is clearly Garfield, and does not appear overly pixilated or boxy. He also animates very well, and his movements are balanced between life-accurate and cartoony.
Sound works well in this game, with the bare necessities rounded out nicely with a few little extra features. The music for each level sets the right mood, whether it is a precarious tune for a high skyscraper or mysterious environmental music for a shadowy cave. Sound effects are crisp and unobtrusive; I really liked the pattering sound Garfield’s feet made. The audio experience was more than adequate the whole way through, except for one aspect: voice acting. Much like the GBA game, Garfield is almost totally silent. I could understand the limitations of a GBA cartridge, but a DS game card could hold even a few quips from the sarcastic feline. The fact that the movie is rife with dialogue makes this exclusion from the game more disappointing.
However, perhaps I didn’t understanding the problem. The copy of the game I received was the European version; thus, it is playable in a multitude of languages. Maybe including voice work in so many languages proved prohibitive to the developer budget and game card space.
As a nice aside, players can speak into the DS microphone at any time and cause Garfield to meow. It only rarely serves a gameplay purpose, but it’s a fun little extra that takes advantage of the DS’s abilities. Spooking birds roosting on power lines with this feature was a cool detail.
With this next attempt at a Garfield platformer, Game Factory has increased their skills and production values. The 3D presentation does a lot for the game’s immersion factor, and the aspect of depth adds to the gameplay. The platforming is improved from their previous efforts, and might actually be fun for older gamers too. Garfield 2 ends up as a fun, slightly innovative little game that kids will enjoy and find more challenging than typical movie tie-in fare.
Based on the recent movie, Garfield 2 is a solid 3D platformer that takes advantage of the DS’s abilities. There are a good number of levels and surprising depth to the gameplay, plus a few little surprises. My only complaints are the lack of voice acting and a couple flat first-person view sections.
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