December 25, 2008

Disney's Bolt Review - Xbox 360

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to see Bolt in various stages of its development and with each stage I became increasingly more excited to play the final product. The improvements and tweaks the developers put into the game at each stage have really pulled the game together to make it a fun and enjoyable title for all ages.

Though the games graphics are not taken directly from the motion picture the graphics are similar in style and look. Fans of the film will be drawn to their favourite Bolt characters. Bolt himself is ever the adorable puppy running across the screen and fighting the bad guys. Some people may want to grab a ball and jump on screen to play a game of fetch with the pooch.

The voices, sounds and music throughout Bolt create a great atmosphere for an action super-hero game. Unfortunately, John Travolta and Miley Cyrus do not reprise their roles as the voices of Bolt and Penny respectively. In fact, Bolt doesn’t talk at all throughout the game and his dialogue is contained to growls and barks. The voice actress who does play Penny though does an excellent job of re-creating the voice of Penny, right down to the well know Miley Cyrus accent. Malcolm McDowell reprises his role from the big screen to the video game as the villain Calico. Lets not forget Rhino, the loveable hamster from the motion picture plays a bit part appearing during the games pause menu and makes comical comments as if he is watching your gameplay as an actual showing of the television program.

In the past, many video game tie-ins have been near carbon copies of the movie’s storyline. However, the trend now is to build on the story and expand it even further. This is the direction the game has taken, with the players working their way through TV episodes as Penny (Bolt’s TV Owner) and Bolt. The story is about a super power endowed dog named Bolt and his owner Penny who you will soon see has some skills of her own. Penny’s father, a world renowned scientist has been captured by the evil Calico and his shadow organization. It is up to Penny and Bolt to rescue Penny’s father from the clutches of evil and save the world from destruction.

Each character has their own unique abilities, which gives an added variety to the gameplay. Penny is a technological whiz and comes equipped with a motorized Wheel-Bar which allows her to slide along ledges, pipes, ceilings and cables. The Wheel-Bar also duos as a weapon which Penny can use to perform sneak attacks to knock guards unconscious or to quickly attack an alert henchman. The other gadgets at Penny’s disposal are Techno Camo allowing her to become invisible for a short time to avoid detection, gas grenades to slide towards unaware guards to put them to sleep and night vision goggles that give you hints to where you should progress to next. Penny is quite the computer hacker uses this skill to open doors and hack databases. Hacking is accomplished by successfully completing a virtual shooter mini-game where you shoot down Counter Intrusion programs which look like little pods. As you destroy all the enemies you progress through barriers and eventually open up an access point which will either send you to the next portion of the mini-game or it will complete the hack and you resume control of Penny.

Bolt on the other hand is one ferocious canine using his super-dog powers adeptly to take down his enemies with a variety of offensive manoeuvres. Bolt at a basic level pounces from enemy to enemy linking his weak and strong attacks into combos, or he uses his powerful jaws to grab onto an enemy and perform one of his four finishing moves. Bolt also has four super-dog powers that are Ground Pound, Sonic Super Bark, Laser Vision and Invulnerability. Ground pound is where Bolt jumps into the air and pounds down on the ground launching all nearby enemies backwards and if the enemies are unlucky into explosive barrels, vehicles or boxes scattered throughout the environment. Sonic Super Bark when used against an enemy will damage them a bit, but more important will stun them for a few seconds so that Bolt can get some attacks in while their distracted. Using this power will help you break down the strong defences of some of Calico’s henchmen. Laser Vision is the last offensive power that Bolt has at his disposal and is his most powerful of powers. The drawback though is that it is difficult to aim from a distantance and is best used when up close to your enemy. Bolt’s Invulnerability shield power is very useful when you are being run down by an SUV, or you have one of the explosive discs that Disky attacks with attached to Bolt. To avoid being damaged just use your invulnerability shield, but beware it does drain on Bolt’s energy reserves.

All of Bolt’s super powers can be made Uber by building up Bolts combo meter and increasing his energy. To build up your combo meter you have to link as many attacks in a row as you can, the higher the attack combo the more the combo meter increases. When the combo meter is full, unleash your Uber Super Powers for devastating and awesome attacks.

As you play through the storyline you will alternate between the two characters where the goals needed to be achieved are tailored towards the specific characters. Areas where stealth, problem solving and technology is needed you will play through as Penny. In contrast where brute power and combat is needed you will play through as Bolt. Throughout storyline play you will be able to collect health and energy fills during each mission. Every nine fills you collect will replenish your health or energy as well as increase the maximum amount of energy slightly.

The basic gameplay is quick and easy to learn and will seem a bit easy at first, but as you progress through the game the difficulty is raised higher. Veteran gamers will find the gameplay quite easy, but it will definitely provide a challenge for the younger gamers the title is geared to. Being a huge animation fan I really enjoyed Bolt, and my two year old son really enjoyed watching Bolt in action as I played through.

The great thing about Bolt is that you don’t have to watch the movie to enjoy the game and it won’t ruin the movie for those of you who have not yet seen it. Bolt is a solid family title that I really enjoyed. Though it is geared towards a younger audience it still maintained my attention throughout and kept me wanting to play it through to the end

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