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PS2 / Review / Disney's Tarzan Untamed
Disney's Tarzan Untamed
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Publisher: Ubi Soft
Developer: Ubi Soft
Release Date: Available Now
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Graphics: 2.5
Control: 2.5
Click here to view Disney's Tarzan Untamed screens!
1 of 15 screens
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Review by: Star Dingo
Posted: 12/18/01 [view screens]

Really good movie. Really bad game. So what else is new with the world? This sickly 3D adventure is plagued by endless repetition, frustrating controls, bland graphics, and just plain boring level design; it's a specific type of rot that a few pretty-looking levels late in the game and a half-baked Tony Hawk gimmick can do nothing to cure. SUBHEAD: Jack of All Apes...Master of None With three main level types and two breeds of "mini-game" sprinkled throughout, Tarzan Untamed tries to set itself up as a 3D platform variety pack of sorts. Here, ranked in order from least to most frustrating, are the flavors you'll find inside: (1) jungle exploration levels---traditional go-forward 3D-platform fare featuring gameplay more linear than Crash Bandicoot's and sluggish controls quite unbecoming of the usually agile King of the Jungle (2) rapids-surfing stages, which look good and move fast, in which Tarzan must (once again) go forward, leaping over waterfalls and rocks despite his poorly timed jumping abilities and doing his best to ignore a Rosie O'Donnell impersonator's repetitive, cloying screeches for help (3) water-skiing levels in which you repeatedly start from scratch when you die, trying to figure out why you lost health when you touched seaweed and why the game seems to think you didn't land on the tree branch when, quite clearly, you did. The boss battles are limp: Simply tap the button as quickly as possible, enter the "code" that appears, and watch the polygon theater unfold as Tarzan wrestles an alligator or beats up a muscled Frenchman. The Bungee Bonus Levels, in which Tarzan must avoid rocks and trees as he plummets into a pool of water, are arguably the game's most fun levels---though even these just amount to memorizing a pattern of holes.

Tarzan Hawk Pro Surfer 3Xtreme
The game also boasts a gimmick that, while it seems kinda cool at least in concept, quickly reveals itself to be a pointless, underdeveloped chore. As Tarzan plods through each level, he can do a number of "tricks," Tony Hawk--style, such as grinding on tree branches and doing handplants off vines. Unfortunately, the "trick engine" is extremely wonky and borders on random. Being tricky almost inevitably means you'll crash into something and probably die. And since your dubious "reward" for participating in these eXtreme actions is just an extra life (if you score a really-hard-to-attain 5,000 points), you'll quickly forget about being Tarzan Hawk and concentrate on getting to the end of the level.

To make matters worse, you eventually reach a point where you can progress no further until you have enough "film reels"---at which moment you must decide whether to repeat all of the levels you just traversed a couple more times on a quest for the missing reels, or shelve the game forever in frustration. Most sane gamers will choose the latter. In a fully fleshed 3D platform game like Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie, this kleptomaniacal level repetition works beautifully because the challenges are different, and the levels offer enough variety and freedom to make exploring them again feel fresh. Here, it's just Artificial Gameplay Inflation. You can almost hear the designers saying, "I don't think you were annoyed enough last time you played this do it a couple more times!" The game also seems fully aware of its own frustration factor: It gives you 99 lives right off the bat.

Jungle Fever
Most of the time, Tarzan is visually reminiscent of a sharper-looking PS game, with drab, dull, repetitive jungle textures and a frame rate that inexplicably shudders when there's really nothing all that interesting or complex nearby. Occasionally, however, the game surprises with its sense of scope (especially in some of the later cave levels) or shocks you with its effective illusion of speed as you race down a waterfall or along a particularly twisty tree branch---though these wonders come with jarring irregularity. The game's sound effects are dull, voice-overs are delivered with a keen sense of disinterest, and the music---a tribal-inspired set of dull junglish beats---hardly brings to mind the Phil Collins epics of orchestral pop from the film. While Tarzan Untamed tries to aim for variety, an acute case of Woeful Underdevelopment Syndrome plagues each branch of this multiarmed tree. You'll undoubtedly wind up wishing the developers had just concentrated on crafting a single complete Jungle Exploration experience rather than a collection of half-baked mini-games. Someone, please, tame Tarzan. Give the tortured ghosts of Walt Disney and Edgar Rice Burroughs some well-deserved rest.

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