Owls don’t fight. They sit in trees wearing glasses and being generally clever, don’t they?
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, published by Warner Bros. and developed by Krome Studios, is a movie tie-in game. No, no, come back. I haven’t said it was bad yet. The fact that there is a movie of the same name may be surprising, as there appears to have been very little coverage of the movie as of writing this.
Movie tie-in games have a bad rap. The fact that this game was released before the movie though, is a good sign. It means that the game was not rushed out as a simple cash in. But it also means that I cannot comment on how well the game represents the movie, or how closely the storyline follows.
Basically, Legend of the Guardians is a flying game. It would appear that this is the season for flying games, with every flying sub-genre catered for, except the hardcore flight sims. In quick succession we have had Top Gun, H.A.W.X. 2, SkyFighters, MySims SkyHeroes and now this. Like the MySims game, this one is aimed at the younger audience but offers a much more serious experience.
The player takes on the role of Shard, a young owl who lives with the Guardians. These Guardians are in conflict with another group of owls known as The Pure Ones and, as a Guardian in training, Shard will be expected to get involved.
After a short back story that introduces the characters, the player is thrust into the tutorial, which teaches the basics of flight and combat. The flight itself is quite good and there is no denying that flying as an owl is a cool experience, but it is easy to see that the game is aimed at the younger audience, as this is probably one of the easiest flying games that I have played. The combat is also fairly straight forward, with a nice selection of moves allowing for both air to air and air to ground attacks.
Following the storyline, there are some 27 missions in the game. The majority of these missions will involve combat to one degree or another, although a little variety is given with the occasional race. This is in fact one of the games major problems. Even though there may be different objectives, such as destroying Pure One bases or rescuing baby owls, the missions revolve too much around combat and it does tend to make the game a little monotonous.
During the game, the player will collect a form of in game cash, which can be used to buy new battlesets. These sets of armour improve the overall stats of your owl, making them faster, more powerful or more nimble. However, the level of difficulty within the game is such that the player will hardly struggle at any point, with or without these upgrades.
Which is another issue with the game. It is far too easy. I understand that the game is aimed at the younger audience, but let’s not under estimate their gaming prowess. Unlike someone of my age, these kids have pretty much been brought up on video games and will likely find the game even easier than I did. Which may not have been a problem if there was a vast amount of content in this title. But as most gamers will happily complete this game in under five hours, it does not present the most satisfying experience.
Encouraging the player to return for another play through are the other owls. At the beginning of the game, the player gets to choose one of four different breeds of owl as their playable character. Playing through the game as a different owl is an option, although the missions will still stay the same, just maybe a little easier is some places, or more difficult in others. There are also a few collectibles to find and there is nothing stopping the player from trying to get a better score in any of the missions.
Something that movie tie-in games usually do well are the visuals, and Legend of the Guardians is no exception. The game looks really good and, from what I have seen of the movie trailer, captures the atmosphere of the movie really well. Fans of the movie will find themselves immersed in this world of owls.
It would seem that Legend of the Guardians has not suffered the full force of the movie tie-in curse. The game looks and sounds great, has done a wonderful job of recreating the atmosphere of the movie, and is easy to play. But the lack of variety, the relative easiness of the missions and the short length of the game make it difficult to recommend this game for the asking price. If you have youngsters that have enjoyed the film, they will likely get a big thrill out of controlling an owl in a game. But for the average gamer, the excitement of fantasy owl flying will be short lived.