Well, bite our shiny metal butts! SCi have pulled off the impossible: a licensed game that's actually good, exclaims Xbox Gamer
|This is Bender's special attack - spinning around like a top shredding everything in his path|
'Good news, everyone!' Those three words often uttered by the Futurama's professor before revealing some banal senility-induced faux pas - are cannily relevant here. Licensed games are a tricky beast to handle. Get it right, and you've got yourself an Indiana Jones or a Two Towers. Get it wrong and you're stuck with a 007: Nightfire or, even worse, a Dark Angel.
The problem lies in capturing the essence of the licence while making an enjoyable experience games-wise. So it comes as good news that Futurama has all the fun you could expect from something based on the excellent cartoon, helping to elevate it above the usual low-grade licensed schlock to something far greater and far more original.
The game features lots of touches that exude the show's charming and witty self-referential humour. Gags and in-jokes permeate the cutscenes, with some real laugh-out-loud moments incorporated into sequences involving character deaths and non-player-characters.
The plot is as outlandish as anything you'd ever see on the show - evil matriarchal corporation MOM has taken over the world, and it's up to the motley crew of Fry, Bender, Leela and company to rescue the planet and evade capture. So far, so predictable. Cue a standard third-person action adventure,
but one that's carried out with the wink and a smile of a professional entertainer.
Through the game's 20-odd levels, you're charged with taking control of the Futurama cast, with running and jumping duties falling to Fry, Leela and Bender (he's our favourite). The actual execution of much of the action isn't especially remarkable. In fact, some dodgy design elements seem intent on trying to break the game's sassy cel-shaded sheen, and much of the game is, to a great extent, in dire need of an edit.
Each level is arguably one room too long, often feeling fleshed out for the sake of it. Why have one mission where Fry makes his way through the city of 'New New York' when five will do? Why give Leela not one, but three different Sun temples to fight her way through? Developers take note - longer isn't always better.
Saving the day, it's robo-alcoholic tin-brained mentalist Bender. His character's levels (which take place during the second act of the game) impress the most - given their tightly plotted, well-designed mix of fun, exciting perils and silly-but-worthy set pieces. Setting them apart from the rest of the game in terms of sheer playability and laugh-out-loud hilarity, Bender's adventures span
a variety of styles and designs making them a real highlight.
That's not to say the first chapter of Futurama is bland or dull, it just seems over-long in comparison and if Bender's adventures had taken up a more substantial portion of the game, then we'd have been looking at a four-star review for sure.