In promotion of Disney and Pixar’s newest animated film “Brave,” audiences were asked by lead heroine Merida, “If you could change your fate, would you?” The adventure that followed brought viewers on a relatively simple family-focused tale indeed changing Merida’s fate, but in unexpected ways. Though the film’s trailers made it seem as though “Brave” would bring forth an epic story of adventure through the Scottish highlands, the tight-knit cast and recurring settings offered a much smaller journey.
But that promise of adventure is more apparent when playing the video game adaptation of “Brave,” available now for Xbox 360. The game’s story evolves rapidly and should only be played by those who have seen the film already, immediately “spoiling” a key plot point as soon as gameplay begins. But this quickness to jump into the crux of the movie’s story also allows players to head straight into the action, controlling Merida as she swings her sword and brandishes her bow, wildly slinging arrows at a variety of foes, the latter being the more rewarding, naturally.
Unlike the straight-forward path Merida is set on in the film to rectify her regrettable, fate-changing decision (staying spoiler-free here), there are multiple paths opened up to players of “Brave: The Video Game,” chasing after a variety of supernatural creatures. The story presented in the game may have actually proved to be a bit more fulfilling for those who found “Brave” to be too simplistic in its plot.
But where “Brave,” the film, excels in presenting gorgeous animation with photorealistic landscapes, “Brave: The Video Game” does not, featuring repetitive textures throughout the grassy lands that all seem to blend together after a while. Worse yet, while Pixar’s filmmakers painstakingly perfected hair simulations for Merida’s flowing red locks, game programmers perhaps found this challenge too difficult, instead producing a rather messy clump of static red clusters atop the main character’s head.
Controls are surprisingly fluid for the regular gameplay, intuitively using the left joystick to move while the right joystick rapid-fires arrows in all directions in traditional arcade style. Button mashing offers sword swinging, jumping, and other functionality, but shooting arrows is far more enjoyable. The game’s cover boasts it being “better with Kinect sensor” but the only portion of the game that is equipped with Microsoft’s motion-sensing capabilities is a tiresome archery mini-game that is most certainly not “better.”
“Brave: The Video Game” is a surprisingly worthwhile adaptation of an attractive, but simple Pixar film, bringing gamers deeper into the story of Merida and her family while offering rather repetitive but still enjoyable action-oriented gameplay.
“Brave: The Video Game” is available now for Xbox 360 on Amazon and at local retailers.