Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Review (PS3)

What can we say about Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Madagascar 2) the videogame that you won’t have already figured out for yourself? Where Kung Fu Panda was a pleasant surprise - albeit a minor one - Madagascar 2 is your typical movie tie-in. In other words, shamefully inept rubbish. So, what does it do wrong? Practically everything. What immediately strikes you when you start up the game are the shoddy graphics, which give Madagascar 2 a rough, unfinished last-gen look. Next you’ll notice the disjointed piecemeal structure, which only adds insult to injury. You’re never allowed to focus upon one single task for more than five minutes as you’re pulled from pillar to post from one mini-game to the next, collecting crappy coins to the sound of King Julien's irritating voice as he guides you through each increasingly irritating, puddle-shallow quest.

Being made up of multiple mini-games, punctuated by simplistic platform jumping tasks, Madagascar 2 tries to be a jack-of-all-trades, but ends up a master of none. Each task jumps between the movie’s main characters utilising their own unique abilities, so Marty the Zebra kicks soccer balls into balloons, kicks suitcases into compartments and generally just kicks various objects with his hind legs. Melman the Giraffe uses his long legs to spin like a helicopter and fly around (yes, really), Gloria the Hippo can dive and swim about a bit and Alex the Lion as the central character, takes care of most of the platforming sections, double jumping and ticking all of the platform game clichés off the list along the way.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is full of these boring mini-games Here's the soccer mini-game. Pro Evo hasn't got anything to worry about

Madagascar 2 may be simple enough to keep the kids occupied for a couple of hours, but we can’t imagine why they’d bother to put the time in to finish the entire story, especially when they could watch the film as an alternative. While the platforming elements of the game are solid enough and would have been just about passable on PlayStation 2, the game as a whole is utterly terrible. It’s hackneyed, anachronistic, dull and definitely not worth wasting your time or money on.

But wait a second. Perhaps we’re being a bit unfair on Madagascar 2. It is aimed at the wee ones after all and as such it offers nothing to the hardcore gamer, but then it doesn’t claim to. As a short diversion for kids, it’ll do the job for a little while, and there’s plenty on offer from the twelve chapters and the eight multiplayer mini-games, but whether their attention span will last for the duration is questionable. Chances are they’ll be bored by the time the first chapter is over. We certainly were.

Borrowing ideas from other games and somehow executing them in the most horribly basic way possible doesn’t do the game any favours either. Quick Time Events seem to feature in every one of these rushed movie tie-in games and Madagascar 2 is no different, shoe-horning in a button matching mini-game at any given opportunity. A note to the developers: kids don’t tend to enjoy QTEs as a general rule, especially the younger audience that Madagascar 2 is aimed towards. Madagascar 2 fails because it tries to do too much to keep the player hooked, but when your game is made up of so many disparate components, it’s hard to care about what’s going on.

This jeep isn't easy to keep on the road Some of the cut-scene visuals aren't that bad. However, the game proper looks consistently ropey

Worst of all, you may find that the majority of younger children may struggle with a lot of the mini-games such as the balloon popping and diving board tasks that require careful aiming and timing. Things improve slightly when there are longer stretches of platforming later on in the game, but the godawful camera sabotages any potential enjoyment. It appears that not much thought has gone into Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and mashing a bunch of frustrating and repetitive mini-games between slivers of platform jumping does not make for a fun videogame regardless of your age.

If this Christmas, you know a ten year-old with a console who would like a game this year, we’d recommend only buying this graphically inept, shoddy excuse for a videogame if you’re completely out of options. Still nothing we or anyone else writes about this game will deter a misguided granny into picking up a copy for their grandson who’s nuts about Madagascar, which is exactly why tripe like this is chucked out onto the shelves as quickly as possible with no regard for quality control. There’s no denying, Madagascar 2 will still make a fast buck despite its many shortcomings.

As long as it resembles the film and has some form of gameplay hidden within, then it’ll do as far as the makers, and indeed most consumers are concerned. But kids, if granny does buy you this insult of a game for Christmas, we’d seriously consider stealing her teeth and flushing them down the toilet.

These screens almost make the game look fun. Don't be fooled: it isn't Please send a caption for this picture to the usual address

If you haven’t already guessed by now, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a ropey abomination of a game that will keep the kids quiet for about the same amount of time as the film will. The celebrity voices are impersonated well enough although the jokes are extremely thin on the ground. All of your favourite characters are here and they each have their own skills, but the gimmick begins to grate once you realise that the game is not much fun. So, pretty much straightaway.

As we’ve already said then, this is only worth buying for an easily pleased, myopic, die-hard Madagascar fan or if there are no other games available. Buy Kung Fu Panda instead. Can we go now?

Top game moment:
Removing the disc from the tray and putting Gears Of War 2 in instead.