Before the movie even showed in theaters, I was treated to demos of Open Season all the way back in E3 of this year. It's always good to see games based on a movie actually be in playable shape nearly half a year before the movie comes out. Open Season is about the trials and tribulations of a bear and a deer and their attempts to drive out those pesky hunters from the forest during hunting season. If I had to take a straw poll, most of the female PR personnel at the Ubisoft booth were totally in love with this game because of its cute graphics and humorous character design.
On that part, Gameloft is able to translate the bright and sunny elements of the movie to the wireless platform. Open Season uses vivid colors and much animation to make the game world alive. While Open Season is an action platform title, and Gameloft has much experience with it, the publisher has made its name recently from its hard core action titles such as Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six or Mission Impossible. But we should also remember that Gameloft originally landed on wireless with Rayman so this non-violent almost goofy action comes natural to them. Open Season is kid friendly by devolving all attacks into bear stomps, growls and the launching of innocent rabbits at objects.
The controls for the game are kept fairly simple. There is a charge-up floating jump and some variations on attacks such as Boog doing a downwards stomp. Elliott is less about brute force and more about finesse. There is a turnstile that propels him into a Sonic like roll up ‘loop the loops'.
For both characters, you'll have to daze and grab a hold of rabbits and launch them at various targets, either a heavy crate held on top of a seesaw (to propel you over) or mud brick walls or enemy porcupines. Open Season is not a punishing game in that if you run out of rabbits you're done for it. Rabbit holes are conveniently placed where you need them and supply an unlimited amount of projectiles until you get it right. Boog can also swim so sinking into water is not a problem. Another cute thing is when you get more than a few rabbits dazed they seem to follow you around like a live ammunition train.
One thing I didn't like about the projectiles is the target reticule. Unlike Splinter Cell, where you have a laser aim coming out of your gun, the target reticule here is floating all over the place out of your control so it becomes a mini game in and of itself. All you can do is move yourself slowly towards the target area until all the random movement overlaps where you want to shoot it. I found this part tedious and it artificially lengthened the game.
Open Season is a decent action platform title for those who are turned off by the traditional male oriented action games that Gameloft puts out. The visuals are bang on. At times, it's able to capture the gameplay quirkiness and color of Rayman but unfortunately the level design is not as strong and I found it relied on too many ‘just far enough' jumping puzzles and those repetitive ‘random target reticule trials' to make the game challenging. It doesn't betray the spirit of the console games recently released and will especially be a good choice for those with younger audiences in mind.