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A slow tutorial and poor controls mar The Golden Compass.
A slow tutorial and poor controls mar The Golden Compass. (Sega/ign.com)
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Friday, January 4, 2008

The Golden Compass game is the perfect storm of everything that's wrong with Hollywood and gaming convergence. Publisher Sega recently jumped into Hollywood licensing, and developer Shiny Entertainment created The Matrix games, which were commercial hits but critical failures.

The Golden Compass's slow and grueling tutorial stretches to more than two hours. Gamers can't play for more than short bursts of time before the game details more instructions.

Since the game is aimed at children, it shouldn't take this much effort to explain how to play. In fact, once you get past the forced tutorial, gameplay is rudimentary and boring. The high point is engaging in button-mashing combat when you play polar bear Iorek, who pummels enemies with little effort. The bulk of the game relies on a snail-paced platform crawl as young Lyra Belacqua. (Actress Dakota Blue Richards, who plays Lyra in the film, is the only actor from the movie to lend her voice to the game.)

Although she can turn into four creatures (including a hawk), poor controls won't entice many to delve too far into this adventure title, which also features annoying mini-games and a convoluted puzzle element using Lyra's truth-telling alethiometer.

On any console, the game looks as horrible as it plays; the frigid landscapes are barren of any graphical wonder.

-- John Gaudiosi

The Golden Compass Everyone 10+; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($60); Wii ($50); PlayStation 2, PSP ($40); Nintendo DS, PC ($30) Sega/Shiny Entertainment The Golden Compass Everyone 10+; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($60); Wii ($50); PlayStation 2, PSP ($40); Nintendo DS, PC ($30) Sega/Shiny Entertainment


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