All of the four playable pests have identical abilities too, so there isn't any real point switching between them anyway. It would have been nice to see some puzzles that only certain characters could get past. The only slight difference is that their conversations vary depending on which two you take out on a mission. This adds a little replay value if you really want to hear every line of dialogue in the game (it is pretty funny).
And that's despite the majority of the movie's cast not even appearing at all. It seems a little tight that they couldn't get Bruce Willis or William 'Bran Flakes' Shatner to show up and record a bit of dialogue. In spite of this, the voice actors do some pretty convincing impersonations. On the plus side, there's a ton of new dialogue that isn't in the film, avoiding the feeling that you've heard it all before. The same goes for the cut-scenes - which are completely new and not taken from the actual movie. While they don't look anywhere near as good, at least there's a slightly different story to get your pointy feral teeth into.
Cut-scenes aside, though, there isn't much of a plot - the game's just a non-linear collection of random missions. After the first few levels you return to a woodlands hub level, where you can choose between the various mini-games you've unlocked. It's also possible to replay stages you've already completed - which is a good thing because you probably won't achieve all the secondary objectives in one go. These bonus objectives are arguably the best part of Over the Hedge, because they're the only element that proves slightly challenging. Many of them focus on not being spotted or setting off a trap, forcing you to actually play along with the game's otherwise redundant stealth features.
But the stuff you unlock? Our hearts always sink when we see mini-games in an animated movie adaptation. It's horribly predictable - and DreamWorks already has a bad rap sheet for Shrek Super Slam and A Shark's Tale. Some developers have yet to realise that mini-games don't add value if they're lamer than a badger in a bear trap. The 'obligatory' distractions in Over the Hedge include a frustrating golf course and a bumper car race with golf carts. You won't play them more than once, so they're pretty worthless.
Graphically, the game isn't as much of a looker as it should be. But we've seen far worse. The character animation isn't too bad, with each of the four playable critters having a distinct way of moving and fighting. While the levels all look pretty similar, they're fairly pretty and capture the normality of suburbia quite observantly. But there isn't a great deal of detail and almost no effects that jump out and grab your attention.
Over the Hedge isn't anywhere near perfect, but it's still reasonably entertaining and not quite bad enough to be dismissed as a 'cash-in' (aren't most games made for cash?). In any case, it's certainly not a cynical ploy to rip kids off - we wouldn't have any qualms about giving this to a little brother or sister to keep them quiet for a couple of days. For older gamers, though, there isn't much of a challenge here, and the gameplay is far from being rewarding.
Nowhere near as bad as most movie tie-ins, but there are plenty of better adventures out there.
- A funny script and reasonable voice-acting, which is surprising seeing as most of the original movie cast isn't involved.
- Secondary mission objectives add replay value and unlock some pretty cool extras if you manage to complete enough of them.
- Extremely repetitive combat, although the targeting system for the bits where you smack golf balls at enemies is okay.
- Lacks any kind of significant challenge. Kids who are good at games will hammer through it quite quickly.
- The mini-games aren't much fun. They won't last you more than a couple of tries before you get bored.