Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Reviewed by: Michael Garvie
Requires: PlayStation Move, PlayStation Eye, Wonderbook
Dinosaurs are many a young child’s obsession. Giant lizards with abundant amounts of strength and stamina in a lost world – what’s not to love? Supermassive Games, in co-operation with the BBC, have released Wonderbook: Walking with Dinosaurs to educate children about these ancient behemoths and their ethology. As a game, however, it lacks somewhat and doesn’t always offer an enjoyable experience for players – whatever the age.
As Walking with Dinosaurs is primarily an educational title aimed more at children than older gamers, I wasn’t expecting wonders. That being said, Walking with Dinosaurs did surprise me immensely. While it’s storyline isn’t riveting or groundbreakingly intricate, it does display a large amount of character. The premise of the title involves travelling to large dig sites around the world, all of which are famous verified dig sites, and discovering your own dinosaur. From there the title takes you on a short story where you follow that dinosaur for a short period of time, while learning about it’s habitat, dietary needs and sociological needs.
The game utilizes a large variety of mini-games to immerse the player in this prehistoric world which include hammering to break up the ground around the bones, finding various foliage in a detailed environment and inspecting a dinosaur using an x-ray. There are also various combat scenes which will require the player to make the designated hand-movement with the Move controller. While these tasks are simple, the vast amount of mini-games prevents this title from feeling repetitive or laborious.
To guide you along your path, and offer assistance along the way are two narrators, one male and one female. While their guidance is useful, they do give the impression that they are educating children, which fits into this title’s target-market. It is extremely frustrating however if you don’t fit into aforementioned target-market, as the word-choice and even the tone of the two characters voices, tends to make you feel like you’re being given orders for a simpleton. Apart from the somewhat annoying guides, it is difficult to find fault with this title.
The graphics of Walking with Dinosaurs are heavily stylised, and while this seems reasonable due to the setting existing before humans did, I still feel it could have been slightly more detailed. The combat scenes are very well rendered but the title’s graphics fall flat in its rendering onto the Wonderbook. Something that I found lacking that featured in other Wonderbook titles (Book of Potions in particular) is a glowing trail that latches onto a selectable icon on-screen. Time and time again I found myself unable to make a selection because I was a centimetre or two off of target.
In terms of sound, the title has a solid offering, apart from the two aforementioned guides. Dinosaur roars resonate across the plains, and trees falling give a familiar thud as they strike the ground. The title also requires the player at certain points to call out a name or to roar like one of the dinosaurs, and the built-in microphone on the Playstation Eye detects these sounds. This might bug gamers that are self-conscious as you do need to yell fairly loud for the title to detect your voice. It is however fairly easy to bypass and I found myself yelling insults at the guides every time I was asked to call out.
Walking with Dinosaurs is not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it just isn’t breathtaking either. With one or two annoyances and graphics that are somewhat lacking it does fall into a section of games that are played once, enjoyed and then forgotten. With no multiplayer options as well, there is almost no replay value. As a video game, Walking with Dinosaurs is average, but as an educational tool, it is in a league of its own.
Lasting Appeal: 5/10