Ubisoft has produced a video game based on the Open Season animated film for every active game-playing device under the sun. Although they're all action adventure games patterned after the movie and share some aspects in common, the games are different from one another in terms of overall execution and quality. Without question, the least interesting of the bunch is the multiplatform version produced for the PC, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360 platforms. It distills the movie into a sequence of 25 mundane third-person levels, each involving one of the two main characters, in which you fetch nonsensical items, sneak around, and toss skunks and rabbits at strategically placed hunters. To add insult to injury, the character interactions from the film are depicted in the game as lifeless dialogue segments put together with tepid in-game graphics and halfhearted voice recordings. In light of all that, it's unlikely that fans of the movie, or anyone else, will get a satisfactory amount of enjoyment out of this particular version of Open Season.
Open Season tells the story of a weakling deer and a tame bear that must journey through the wilderness to find their way home.
Like most movie tie-ins, the overall level progression in the game's adventure mode follows and expands on what happened in the film. The story concerns a tame grizzly bear named Boog who ends up partnered with a weakling deer named Elliot after an unfortunate chain of events leaves the pair stuck in the wilderness far away from Boog's otherwise cushy life as someone's pet in a small town. To make their way back to town, Boog and Elliot must travel through the different parts of the forest, enlist the other animals for help, and use Boog's wild abilities to scare off all of the hunters that have come to participate in the newly opened hunting season. In each of the game's 25 levels, you will control either Boog or Elliot and find yourself fetching items for the other animals while scaring off hunters using a combination of the heroic duo's own skills and the weaponlike abilities of the animals that Boog has befriended. Some levels also incorporate action sequences involving makeshift cannons or sprints down the mountain in contraptions such as a mine cart or a raft made from an outhouse.
While it sounds like there's a lot to do in the game, the harsh reality is that the abundant fetch quests all feel the same, and the portions involving the hunters rarely welcome the use of the many skills that take so much time to gain access to. Being sent to collect things like grubs for a mama skunk or a beaver's lunchbox is fine when you're asked to do so on occasion, but the game is loaded with similarly dull fetch quests. Successfully completing these errands lets Boog pick up and toss animals at the hunters. Initially, the only animal Boog can pick up is Elliot, who is never far behind but isn't good for much except grabbing distant coin items and distracting hunters. The other animals are more mischievous. Skunks can be lobbed at hunters and into houses to stink up the joint, squirrels can be thrown into trees or atop hunters' heads to function as nut-throwing turrets, and rabbits turn into kicking facehuggers when thrown in hunters' faces. The animals also eventually teach Boog how to sniff for treats, swim, and steamroll over hunters. Before Boog learns those skills, the only actions he can perform, apart from hurling Elliot, are donning a disguise to hide, roaring to scare hunters, and picking up and tossing things.
Once you have access to all of Boog's skills and weapons, the game really gets going. Unfortunately, by that point, the quest is nearly done. The first 20 levels tend to focus on isolated abilities or emphasize the use of the sneak and roar abilities. It's only the last four or five levels that incorporate everything. It's a shame the team producing this version of the game didn't borrow a page from the PlayStation Portable version's playbook and make a single massive gameworld of interconnected environments that you can wander back and forth between as new missions are revealed.
There are way too many fetch quests, and too few levels let you use all of Boog's skills.
Characters are introduced and the story is told through numerous dialogue scenes. These scenes seem to be patterned after similar situations in the film, but they don't employ film footage or any sort of prerendered video. Instead, they're put together from a combination of in-game graphics and dialogue recorded specifically for the game. This poses a couple of problems. From a visual standpoint, the characters and environments look crisp, but they're also extremely plain. The characters aren't very detailed, their animations lack personality, and there's rarely anything going on in the environment aside from streams flowing by or butterflies fluttering around. During dialogue scenes, these plain-looking characters stand around and make modest face and hand gestures while speaking their lines. Meanwhile, the voice performances turned in by the soundalike actors hired to mimic Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, and the other film actors generally lack passion and do a poor job of making situations seem humorous or tense. The only time a scene is portrayed with sufficient energy is when it's handled within one of the action levels where you can actually control Boog and Elliot as they shoot hunters with makeshift cannons or freefall down a portion of the mountain aboard a rickety vehicle.