It’s amazing how animated films are getting more and more sophisticated and more and more brilliant, while videogames based on these films remain consistently unremarkable. It’s as if a rule exists decreeing that every new groundbreaking computer animated feature be succeeded by a bland and completely forgettable game depiction. Regrettably, The Incredibles, for the PS2, does its best to play by the rules.
Beyond the sharply realized visuals—mostly where the characters are concerned—the game is a poor homage to its movie namesake. The story of Bob Parr and his gifted family of superheroes (wife Mrs. Incredible, children Violet and Dash) is told inexcusably poorly. When you finish the adventure, you still won’t know what the movie is about. Even the GameBoy Advance version, with its slideshow between-level interludes, manages to do a far better job at telling us the tale.
This PS2 version plays like a series of disjointed and unrelated missions carried out by the Parrs, one at a time, for no reason that you’re aware of. You’ll play a mission with Mr. Incredible, have your progress saved, and then you’ll be playing some other mission at a completely different locale as Mrs. Incredible. Then you’re Dash somewhere else. And so on. The seemingly arbitrary mission flow establishes a sort of disconnectedness that fans will surely resent. And, of course, only fans would have found anything special here; beneath the slick facade the license presents, The Incredibles is a white bread action game without any noticeable highs or lows to be found.
The bruising Mr. Incredible’s moments in the spotlight are the most pedestrian and typical. He’ll jump and punch and toss things. Playing as his wife is quite a bit more interesting, as it calls into play her stretchy limbs to swing on lampposts and poke enemies off the edges of buildings. Violet’s turn is a frustrating and abhorrent experience dodging inconsistent computer AI with her stealth talents. Her powers run out all too quickly, requiring constant recharging behind rocks and the like, while the enemies often seem to find her when she should be hidden, and not find her when she’s in plain sight.
Young Dashiel—Dash for short—offers the player the best gameplay experience. His levels are first person perspective car races, only you’re not in a car, you’re in the heat-resistant shoes of a cocky little kid. He’ll get to race through city streets as well as navigate a wooded area and a dank cavern network. He’s so fast you’ll even have him running on water! If not for the Dash levels, I’m not even sure I’d have stuck with The Incredibles to its conclusion.
It’s unfortunate really, because the source material is so fresh and entertaining. Disney and Pixar have a cash cow phenomenon on their hands that is well deserved. This is what makes the game’s mediocrity all the more infuriating. Aside from the authentic look of the title, and perhaps also the jazzy and bombastic tunes, The Incredibles disappoints on every other level. It doesn’t disgust us, but it doesn’t impress us in the least either. The voices try to inject some of the movie’s flavour into the proceedings, but then the characters say the same things over and over and over, turning something of charm to something of annoyance. In the end, the main draw here will be that fans are able to play something that looks just as cool as their beloved film, and enjoy some interesting fisticuffs with Mrs. Incredible and some exhilarating high speed juking and jiving with Dash. C’est tout. For those not at all interested in The Incredibles franchise, there’s much better action fare out there.