Disney Pixar’s Brave movie might have spent a relatively short amount of time, for a Pixar movie, on top of the box office rankings but those other movies on the list don’t (all) have games to support them. Disney Interactive has done a great job lately of showing the industry how to put out quality licensed games. Brave the game isn’t quite the masterpiece Toy Story 3 is, but it is still a few hours of good family fun. Games like Brave are geared toward younger gamers but that doesn’t mean adults won’t find any enjoyment helping or taking over at times.
Without wanting to spoil the game or movie plot too much: Brave basically follows the movie’s second half and recaps the events that lead up to current situation with animated drawings voiced over by Kelly MacDonald herself. She also voices the main character, Merida throughout the game and thankfully, she recorded quite a bit. Though she is chatty throughout the game, Merida’s explanations and observations are varied enough that she never gets annoying. Just remember that your kids are playing an age appropriate game and not watching the HBO series Empire.
Brave is an isometric top-down adventure platformer that borrows plenty from classic adventure games like The Legend of Zelda. That tie is made stronger with the forest settings and Celtic music used throughout the game. The settings are fairly varied but the graphics, on the whole, are a mixed bag with some technical issues that hold it back further. The frame rate at times stutters and even little things like a coin fountain hesitates and pauses but, bits like the lighting are well executed. Having nowhere near the detail of the Pixar source material, Brave does still manage to capture and convey the essence of the original styling.
Brave starts players off with an in-game tutorial starting with walking and jumping which are done by moving the left analog stick and by pressing the X button respectively. Merida can also perform a double jump by hitting the X button twice. By the end of the first level, she finds a sword which can be swung with the square button, and a bow that can be fired at 360 degrees with the right analog stick. Once these weapons are obtained, many items in the levels can be destroyed for coins. These coins in turn unlock special abilities and combos for Merida, though having dodge as an ability available for purchase is a bit puzzling.
Each level of Brave contains a number of collectibles like upgraded swords and bows although; only the bow’s upgrades are reflected on screen. The first few levels also dole out Merida’s elemental powers that will get her through levels and give her an easier time with different enemies. Each enemy wears an icon over their head displaying the element against which they are weakest. If it ever gets too difficult, a friend or family member can jump in as a blue wisp to help with the fighting. The levels do also feature arena-type bear fights and cute puzzle sequences to break up the hack and slash action.
On the PlayStation 3, Brave offers a PlayStation Move supported target practice mini-game that can be done to earn extra in-game money. The Move wand is held behind the shoulder with the trigger depressed and then pulled over your shoulder and pointed at the screen to fire. Think pulling an arrow out of a quiver worn over your back and then having it magically shoot like a missile toward your target. There are three different modes to this archery range that may also be suitable for a short party game of sorts.
Brave doesn’t bring much new to gaming but what it does do, it does fairly well, except, of course, for those visual hiccups. It’s a short adventure game, easily finished in a day for even moderately experienced gamers. The art, the quality, and variety in chatter are enough to get you started and the rest of the formula is executed well enough that you’ll probably want to see the game through. The little puzzle sequences are really kind of scene stealers and I wish there were more of them. The archery range is fun but probably not enough so that you will want to dig out and dust off your Move controllers. Buy it for your kids and then play it for yourself after they go to bed.
Disney/Pixar Brave is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence. This game can also be found on: PC and Xbox 360.