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Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit

A grand day out for adults and young 'uns alike

Let's get one thing straight. W&G are far from mere kiddie-fodder. And so, pleasingly, is this tie-in sequel. Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a far more liberating experience than the previous Project Zoo. Whereas before you'd enter a room, solve required puzzles, advance to the next room, and repeat ad infinitum, this sequel gives you the chance to explore the twosome's distinctive home town, acquiring missions along the way. Not quite on a GTA scale but it's a welcome feature. The upcoming film makes for decent source material, and you couldn't ask for a more faithful or inventive game.

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Running Wallace's humane pest control company Anti-Pesto means you get to pick and choose from a satisfyingly diverse range of tasks for the town's inhabitants, opening up a fun range of side missions and mini-games. It's not confined to generic time-based platforming dash-and-grab challenges either - there are more imaginative challenges too. Some involve shepherding pesky bunnies into specific areas using both characters and their different abilities (real brain-scratchers); others have Gromit playing football, or controlling a huge, stuffed dancing were-rabbit. And it may look like a kid's title, but the action is punishingly tough. What doesn't help at all are the dubious physics of the game. We're not expecting Half-Life 2, but when you're trying to roll a barrel down a hill within a tight time limit and the damn thing either rolls off in a random direction or won't react to your guiding nudges, it's very annoying. Factor in a camera that occasionally just won't rotate as quickly as you sometimes need, and these are slight blemishes on an otherwise top adventure.

There are lots of NPCs going about their comically clichéd, small-northern-town business, and though the context-sensitive controls used for conversing with them aren't as sharp as we'd like, they do provide frequent chuckles and some entertaining dialogue. You can instantly flick between playing as Gromit, Wallace and new addition Hutch with a flick of the Black button. It's a definite improvement being able to use the inept inventor yourself to co-operatively solve puzzles with Gromit, instead of him merely being a slow AI sidekick as before. The game looks pretty enough too; visuals are slick and the character animation impressive - the smooth, claylike appearance of each character is perfectly recreated here. The film hadn't come out as we went to press, but judging by previous efforts this looks the business.

Once you've amassed enough reward cards, the duo can turn day into night, and here's where the game really steps up a gear. The were-creatures come out to play, and missions become a much more exciting mix of melee combat; not only does this feel more rewarding, but you also get to play as Hutch, a mutated rabbit who's a much more combat-competent ally than Wallace. It's a shame you have to endure such a large amount of to-ing and fro-ing in order to sample this part of the game, but this is still a worthy accompaniment to the series. That's just grand, lad.

The verdict

A fun, faithful and playable movie tie-in that pretends to be a kids' game, but is a top title for adults and young 'uns alike.

8
Format
Xbox
Developer
Frontier Developments
Publisher
Konami
Genre
Adventure

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