Disney Pixar’s Brave is the latest movie-to-game adaption given to us by Disney Interactive Studios. It’s a third person, top-down adventure game that mixes in a healthy dose of combat, puzzle and platforming elements – if you’re a Lego games fan, this games mechanics will come at ease to you. Brave, the video game retells the movie’s second half via animated 2D cut scenes in-between action sequences, and is fully voiced by Kelly MacDonald herself (who plays Merida). I would advise you to watch the movie before playing the game, as several spoilers are dished out within the first few minutes.
Put vaguely, the story of Brave follows a young, feisty princess (Merida) on a mission to cleanse the fantasy highlands realm that she lives in of evil, which has happened as a direct consequence to a mix up between a wish and an evil cursed bear. The game starts you off in a tutorial, where you learn the basics – running, jumping and double jumping (which is used for climbing) as well as allowing you to find your first 2 weapons – a training sword and training bow, and practice using them. You then slowly begin making your way through eight, very varied levels, battling all sorts of baddies such as wolves, golems, crows and fire-trailing boars whilst hopping from rocks to floating blocks of ice, to zip wiring between trees.
The game only gives you the use of two weapons, a sword and a bow. Controlling the sword is fairly simple, just press the “x” button to swing, whilst the bow is controlled with the right analogue stick only. You can go through the levels, destroying the environment and objects for coins, which in turn can be used to upgrade abilities and weapons. The Xbox 360 version of Brave, has a Kinect supported target practice mini-game, that allows you to earn extra in-game money. The bow is fired by holding both your arms out together, then tossing your right arm to the side – as if you were pulling and releasing the arrow.
The game also keeps combat interesting by including elemental charms for you to collect within each of the levels. They allow you to enchant your bow and sword with one of the four elements (Earth, Fire, Wind and Ice) which you switch between using the bumper buttons to kill enemies that are affected more by a particular element. For example, a fire-trailing boar will be killed faster by an ice-enchanted sword than an earth-enchanted one. The elemental charms also affect parts of the environment, creating platforms for Merida to jump on, or creating chunks of ice for her to hop across.
The game’s combat system is incredibly solid, especially once you get used to the fact that you don’t have to use both analogue sticks to aim & shoot the bow, however, the platforming highlights the game’s biggest weakness, which comes in the form of incredibly dodgy camera angles. Many times whilst playing, the camera would move itself to angle that gives you an awful depth perception – leading to many impromptu plunges off the side of a platform and many, many, misses when trying to make, what is initially perceived as a simple hop from one platform to another. Thankfully, the game has an inconsequential death system and allows instant respawns, which limits the frustration somewhat.
You are given a nice break from the slightly repetitive hack and slash combat by being thrown into puzzles, where you are in control of three little bear cubs that need to be strategically placed on levers and push buttons to aid Merida on her way, as well as sometimes having the opportunity to play as a giant bear, easily smashing through hordes of enemies – which is a lot of fun to play.
Visually, the game is ‘ok’. Although it’s not anything special. The levels include varied environments, from forests, caves and abandoned castles, to cliffs, snowy mountains and swamps – which are all rather colourful and contain some nice floral effects, but there isn’t mass amounts of detail in any of it, the coolest bit is the nifty aura that surrounds Merida depending on which elemental charm she is using. For example, using the fire charm, means that Merida is surrounded by a nice orange/red light, while earth gives her a green tint instead. One major disappointment visually, was how laughable the results of Merida’s hair are. Her wild mane of curly, red hair is one of the character’s defining features and Pixar did have to make enormous advances in computer animation to render her hair realistically in the film, which we simply can’t expect the games developers to replicate, but their attempt is, simply put, dreadful. During gameplay, it isn’t too noticeable as Merida is so far away from the camera she’s almost nothing but an orange and blue dot, however you’ll get a nice chuckle out of it during the cutscenes!
Watch the interview with the lead actor Kelly Macdonald who voices ‘Merida‘ in the Disney Movie BRAVE
The game takes around six to eight hours to complete, and unless you’re desperate for a certain upgrade, there isn’t much replay value, however the game is entertaining and although it is not without its flaws – the levelling-up and platform variations, combined with the various environments and fantastic voice acting make Brave an enjoyable experience, that will definitely keep youngsters entertained for hours.
Watch the Exclusive Trailer for BRAVE
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.