Developer: Two Tribes
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0 (iPhone OS 3.0 Tested)
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★★
User Interface Rating: ★★★★★

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

Everyone loves Ice Age, and over the last few weeks I’ve had a chance to play around with an upcoming title from the million-dollar movie franchise. Developed by Fox Mobile Entertainment, Two Tribes, and published by Chillingo, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is a adventure platformer and an extension to the recent box office smash hit Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. The game sees you take on the role of some of your more favourite Ice Age movie characters to battle through the icy, barren (and sometimes dangerous) landscape, but let it be known, this isn’t your usual movie tie-in.

Over the weekend Apple finally approved the title, and now I can let you know how I really feel about this game, its game-play, and of course it’s replay value. Now, I don’t know about you but whenever anyone mentions games which tie-in with movies to me, I usually think one thing – rushed, unthoughtful, shaky tools for making a truck load more dosh – and I have to be honest and say, that’s exactly what I was thinking when I fired up this. However, to my surprise Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was anything but, and in fact was the complete opposite; becoming fun, enjoyable and fully immersive in minutes.

The game consisted of 4 levels, each with 9 chapters. You play as Scrat, the nut-crazy, squirrel-like creature who is adamant and damn right determined to collect all his scattered nuts – and just as portrayed in the movie he’ll go to amazingly lengths to ensure he gets them. If you haven’t already guessed, the aim for each level is to guide Scrat around the maze like structures, climbing, floating and falling, until all nuts I’ve been collected. But the game isn’t that rigid – far from it. Being from Two Tribes, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs seems to take on the same form as one of the studio’s previous award-winning titles – Toki Tori, bringing with it that puzzle and maze focused gameplay I think we all fell in love with the first time around.

As with Toki Tori, basic character movement in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is controlled by tapping. Simply tap on an area of the map you wish for Scrat to move, and he’ll scurry along to that spot (providing it’s accessible to him). The game involves reality physics. But Arron, What do you mean by that? Essentially what I mean by that is Scrat is no super-squirrel and therefore if a usual real-life squirrel couldn’t reach the place or spot you wish Scrat to move to, Scrat won’t be able to reach it either – without help from you that is. In-game, available areas light up green, and unavailable areas in red. There are four main controls you need to get to grips with during the game. Moving, which we covered is performed by using one finger and tapping on the desired area. The next is grab which allows Scrat to grab or hold onto obstructive blocks and push them out of his way. Again, one finger. Stomp which we’ll get into a little later, and looking around. If you want to look at the level map at any time, just use two fingers to pan. Although I liked this feature, you can’t view the entire map, it’s limited to the section Scrat is currently standing in, and the ‘camera’ has invisible borders (if you get what i mean).

As well as figuring out which direction you should move in first, to avoid getting stuck at a later point, throughout the game you’ll also meet various ice age predators you’ll have to sneak past, in order to reach (and collect) those all important nuts – but you won’t be alone, as you’ll have the landscape to help you. During the game you’ll notice that just like in the movie, everyday objects become tools for Scrat. For example, just 3 or 4 levels in you’ll notice that levels become ‘un-walkable’ .. instead you’ll have to use ‘tar pits’ to encase Scrat in a bubble, and float to higher platforms. This method of travel won’t last for long though, with each bubble you create having a timer attached. Once it runs out, if you’re not only solid ground, you are going for mighty drop my friend! Other tools include embedded ceiling stone icicles. Taping Scrat while he’s near a cluster of these stones icicles will make him stomp, causing them to fall. A handy tool for getting rid of pesky predators – just make sure Scrat is out of the way of them, before stomping, or it could end nasty.

Graphically Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is stunning, with realistic textures and smooth animation to boot. I think you’ll really be able to relate to and immerse yourself in this game. Not to mention the soundtrack. It’s so up-beat, and ‘happy’ sounding, this title is perfect for both young and old, although if I were to guess, I’d say the target audience Two Tribes was aiming for with this was 8-12. From the moment you start a level, to the moment it ends, it’s just a joy to play, and honestly this title has really opened by eyes to the prospect that if enough time and effort is spent on these movie tie-in titles, they could really make for great gaming experiences.

Summing up, I really can’t fault Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs for iPhone. It’s fun and inviting gameplay makes for a great pass time!

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