As one of the few Xbox exclusive titles for 2001, Shrek seemed poised to overcome the dreaded movie-license curse. The game looked as striking as the movie that inspired it, with vibrant 3D graphics and unrivaled detail for a console game. Of course, appearances can be deceiving. The final product fails to live up to its visual promise, offering repetitive action and sloppy control in lieu of an enthralling adventure.
Awkward camera angles are the most immediate problem. The camera automatically pulls far back whenever Shrek runs, making it hard to tell what's in front of him. Yet if Shrek turns to walk up ramps or jump on ledges, the camera doesn't budge. Players have to manually swivel it just to see where they're going, and even then it's not perfect. The camera has a disturbing tendency to get stuck when Shrek is near walls.
Control is also imprecise. The most baffling inclusion is a wall jump, which involves running into a wall to ricochet the ogre's large self onto higher platforms in the opposite direction. It is so unwieldy you'll wonder why a standard double jump wasn't used instead. Slight hiccups in the other moves means you never feel fully in control of Shrek at any time. Completing tasks often relies more on luck than skill.
A lack of continuity is another problem. The land is divided into eight detached areas, each based on a theme. All feature similar tasks to perform, so there's no sense of progression. Instead of exploring a huge world avoiding hazards or solving puzzles, you run around a confined area completing a laundry list of timed tasks and shallow objectives. You'll punch five whistles, catch "evil" fairies, or use your gas attack on a dancing cow.
Shrek is a game that's not quite finished. There are no cut-scenes between levels, none of the principal characters from the film are here (not even Donkey), and the worlds are too small. As a result, the title captures none of the movie's magic or charm. While Shrek is certainly playable in its current form, the numerous flaws point to something that was likely rushed to appear in time for the system's launch. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Easily the game's strongest feature, the graphics make the worlds come alive. Shrek in particular looks exactly like he does in the film. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Shrek doesn't say much other than the occasional groan, but each good deed is narrated by a female storyteller. The opening cinema features a funny introduction by the mirror. Sound effects are fine but don't stand out. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The control, camera, and gameplay are all in need of some fine tuning. The objectives don't seem very different from world to world, which hurts the overall enjoyment. The action becomes tedious. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Completing various good deeds opens up a separate race mode, allowing players to revisit areas to complete objectives within a time limit. Unfortunately, the objectives do not change in this mode. Cheats can also be purchased after earning special tokens. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The full-color manual explains each area as well as all of the moves Shrek can perform. Individual good deeds are detailed within the game itself. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide