Over The Hedge
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-07-02 Xbox Action/Adventure E10 (Everyone 10+) Activision / Vicarious Visions

You're probably thinking "Didn't you just review Over The Hedge?" but let me tell you that the Xbox (or any other console version of it) is completely different from the DS version which I reviewed in our previous update.

While the DS version had a completely different storyline that followed the movie's events, Over The Hedge for the Xbox is loosely based on the movie's story.

You have four characters at your disposal to play as: RJ the Raccoon, Verne the Turtle, Hammy the Squirrel and Stella the Skunk, each of them with their own special move. You can only control one but have two active at the same time, switching between them as you please. Alternatively, you can have a friend control the second character for a co-op gameplay mode.

The game first begins with a brief tutorial, which makes it easy for everyone to get acquainted with the controls, being an especially useful process for younger gamers (which is who the game is particularly aimed at). Needless to say, the learning curve is very small: jump with a button, attack with another and you're pretty much on your way.

The core of the game is a 3D action platformer with a lot (I do mean a lot!) of hack'n'slash. You jump around avoiding traps such as lasers and motion detectors, collect food to heal and potato chips to increase your character's health, and keep hitting that attack button to kill the baddies that get in your way.

Each stage of the game has a series of goals to complete. This aspect of the game alone will certainly appeal to the completist gamer, since there are a total of 135 objectives. Primary objectives are the ones specifically mission-related and work a bit like checkpoints and advance the story (find a specific item, for example). Secondary objectives are optional, some of them you can complete on the way to the "end" of a stage, while others make you go a little bit out of the way.

The problem with trying to get all the objectives done is the camera. You can't just look around, since the camera forces you to look in a direction that the developers think suits the scene. I actually kept trying and trying to rotate a camera that didn't exist for the longest time... Then there was the inexistent backtracking. Without any warning, you get to a certain area and you can't turn back; you get stuck and can only keep going towards the end of the stage. The only way to try to get those objectives you missed is by restarting the mission.

There are also collectibles throughout the game (they look like CDs) that unlock anything from videos to music and artwork.

Aside from the main mission-based gameplay, Over The Hedge offers a couple of mini-games that you can keep going back to: Golf Cart Derby, RC Car Racing (remote controlled cars) and my favorite, Suburban Mini Golf.

Graphically, the environments are colorful and sharp, and the animations on the characters are smooth and very well done. There is a lot of attention to detail, especially in the cut-scenes, which tie in the story between missions very well.

The voice acting is also very well done but doesn't count with any of the movie's voice talents. The ambient sounds are realistic (dogs barking, birds chirping, cars passing by, the buzzing of the lasers) and the music could set the tone for a stealthy spy game.

Overall, the console version of Over The Hedge is an entertaining game with a wacky sense of humor (there is a even a reference to "The Warriors" in there). You can finish it pretty quickly if you don't feel like fulfilling all the goals, or you can spend a good 15 hours trying to get everything in the game.

Most of all, this is a family game: parents can play it with their kids, kids can play it with other kids and parents can play together while the kids get upset waiting for their turn. Aside from the lack of camera controls, I personally had a blast with it.

Special thanks to Neil Wood, MacLean Marshall and Activision for providing a copy of this title.