Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Ep 1: Fright of the Bumblebees Review
Still, despite these issues, the game isn't bad. The keyboard-centric control scheme mostly gets the job done (although I still prefer point-and-click), as does the standard adventure game inventory system (nothing as outrageous or complicated as The Curse of Monkey Island's combinations here), and you'll tolerate the tonally correct, if unexciting environment. The designers definitely understand what makes this an exciting world. They take our unlikely, highly unusual heroes, and throw them into a situation that goes from mundane to bizarre faster than we realize. It feels like it should, in other words.
Unfortunately, it's not quite as it should be. That amazing sense of detail and humanity (in often inhuman-seeming characters) is what makes Wallace and Gromit unique. The game tries to bring this strangely alive world of clay into the world of adventure games, but the transition loses something. Maybe it's the ability for us viewers to see the claymation in its old-school glory, or maybe it's the lack of the original players. Regardless of the reasons behind this shortcoming, the issue is inescapable. The characters don't move quite right, their faces are a bit too virtual.
This might seem like a strange gripe. After all, we're used to our favorite characters and franchises being put through the visual ringer. One only has to look at the fourth Monkey Island title for an example of a 3D game that manages to do away with its IP's character almost entirely. Playing any game starring the iconic Indiana Jones is trying: his doppelgangers look and sound nothing like him. The issue here is that the look and feel of the characters is integral to making Wallace and Gromit what it is.
The look is right, but this (ironically) feels so much more lifeless than Aardman's world of clay people. If you take the sense of life from these characters, their world, and exciting adventures, then you're left with a game, and not a terribly inventive or impressive one at that. Furthermore, as a puzzle game, Wallace and Grommit just feels terribly slow. It's not as if the movies clipped along at a Micahel Bay-esque pace, but they were always busy, tumultuous offerings. Whenever Fright attempts to present this kind of fanciful, forceful narrative, it falls flat on its face. No one sounds properly excited by what's going on in-game.
I've no idea how Telltale could have done any better at bringing this world to life. The original fiction was so detailed and specific, they were always going to be working at a disadvantage. The thing that kills this game is that what lies beneath their careful world creation is mediocre. It's funny at times, it makes you feel like you're in that world (sometimes), and it's still a great experience for fans of the world. But as a game it never delivers, and as a Wallace and Gromit tale it's sadly lacking. Maybe they can fix this a bit in the next installment, which can be purchased even now. Let's hope they can, because I'll always be up for more trips to West Wallaby Street.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 75%.