It shouldn't surprise anybody that Dreamwork's newest animated movie, Bee Movie, has been turned into a multiplatform video game. What may surprise you is that this Activision game is actually a solid kid's game with a great sense of humor and a lot of variety. It's not going to win any awards for being the most original game of the year, but it's definitely better than your average game based on an animated movie.
In Bee Movie Game you play Barry B. Benson, a young bee fresh out of college (at B.U.) and eager to join the work force making honey. Before long Barry realizes that the outside world (which is largely made up of scary human beings) has been taking the bee's honey for their own gain. Barry sets out to do something about it, and along the way he'll meet some interesting people, get into man-on-bee fights and have to protect his home from the always present threat of invasion from other insects. Barry has quite an adventure ahead of him, and it's up to you to make sure he doesn't mess up along the way.
The game is split up into two different sections. Half of the game is comprised of an open-world environment where you can go wherever you want and play different mini-games (think Grand Theft Auto, except in a bee hive). The other half of the game is more linear, it's the story-driven parts of the game where you journey outside of the hive and meet interesting characters while develop the plot. Without a doubt the most interesting events happen outside of the hive, but you'll need to play both sections in order to advance the story and ultimately beat the game.
In the hive, Barry has the ability to walk or fly around this open world that is straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Like all cities it has its own buildings, streets, vehicles and an economy. In this city you will have to find work and complete a number of mini-games in order to go into the outside world and advance the plot. The look and feel of the hive is right out of the movie, there are all sorts of bees walking around, cars for you to jump in (you never actually "hijack" a car in the game, you merely jump in the passenger side and direct the driver where to go), houses for you to explore and colorful backgrounds that are easy to get lost in. But don't worry about getting too lost, because the hive isn't very large, there are really only two different areas to this city and neither of them is particularly large.
Outside of looking around and seeing the sights, the only thing you really have to do in the hive is play the various mini-games, each of which gets you one step closer to moving on to the next level. In all there are around a dozen different mini-games, each with around ten different levels to complete. As you can imagine, the mini-games start easy enough, but as you progress through the levels you will find that they become increasingly more difficult. That's not to say that these levels are extremely challenging (this is a kids' game, after all), but even seasoned gamers may have to retry some of the harder levels a few times before passing the test.
The nice thing is that there is a good variety of different mini-games to pass your time. Some of the best include a car racing game that feels like a cross between Midnight Club and Mario Kart. Speaking of vehicles, there's also a mini-game that rips off Crazy Taxi. There's also a mini-game where you get on a small scooter and make food deliveries to the neighborhood. This sounds easy, but since you've stacked the boxes so high you'll need to keep them from tipping over by using the left and right trigger buttons. While these three vehicle-centric mini-games are nowhere near as fun as playing a real racing game, they are fun for short periods of time.
Unfortunately not every one of the mini-games is as much fun as the racing and Craxy Taxi clone. A lot of the mini-games require you to do monotonous tasks that feel more like work than fun. Perhaps that's because these mini-games involve you performing work-related tasks, such as filling up containers, fixing cars and grabbing bottles of honey. At first these mini-games are interesting, but by the time you've done all ten levels of the task you'll wish that you were getting paid for your time. Interestingly enough, there's one work-related mini-game that acts like Plinko from the Price is Right. Unfortunately it proves that Plinko is only fun if you have the chance of winning $10,000.
For the most part the mini-games are a mixed lot, some you'll look forward to going back to time and time again, while others are just too boring to keep your attention for long. For the most part these levels won't take more than a few minutes to complete, so you'll never spent too much time doing the same task over and over. The smart way of playing these mini-games is to do one game and then go to another job, that way you won't get that repetitive sensation.
But as I mentioned before, these mini-games are really nothing more than the means to opening up new story levels. The game is split up into twelve different levels, most of which have at least two or three sub-sections for you to play through. Instead of being the kind of game where generic action follows the story from level to level, Bee Movie Game actually manages to throw a few different gameplay mechanics at you from area to area.
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