Flushed Away is a generic run-and-jump game that's hampered by technical problems.
- Design is so simple anyone can figure out how to play
- Boat missions let you cut loose with firepower
- Video scenes that appear between levels are humorous and chatty.
- Not much to playing except jumping between the same plain platforms
- Shifty camera and slippery surfaces lead to frequent surprise deaths
- Graphics are bland and murky
- Characters and locations only vaguely match the movie.
Loosely based on the animated movie of the same name, Flushed Away is a 3D adventure that follows a mouse named Roddy St. James as he makes his way through the sewers and back to his cushy life in someone's condo. To help Roddy find his way home, you have to guide Roddy and his newfound friend, Rita, through roughly a dozen multilevel missions that involve platform jumping, sneaking, and a few skirmishes with angry insects, rodents, and amphibians. If it sounds like the developers put together a generic run-and-jump game and stuck the movie's characters into it, that's because that's exactly what they did. The design is derivative of countless other games, while the lukewarm presentation relies primarily on recorded video scenes to convey an association with the movie. On top of all that, the game is hampered by technical problems that make it impossible to get through any level without "dying" and respawning multiple times.
Like many movie-based games, Flushed Away shoehorns the main characters and the underpinnings of the story into a sequence of generic run-and-jump levels and then tacks on a bunch of additional levels that concern characters and story tangents that aren't in the movie. Unlike the majority of other movie-based games, however, Flushed Away doesn't try very hard to copy the atmosphere of the movie it's based on. The characters have a rounded, clay-formed appearance that's only mildly reminiscent of the character designs produced by Aardman for the movie. Furthermore, they lack detail, and their animations are stiff and boring. Key environments, such as the underworld metropolis and Toad's mansion, look vaguely like the ones in the movie, but the rest are nondescript sewers and rooms. By and large, the game recycles the same plain floors, boxes, pipes, and platforms over and over again. As it is, the overall quality of the graphics is on the weaker end of the spectrum. The polygon count is low, the textures are blurry, and it's often hard to see what's in front of you because everything is so dark and murky. With regard to the audio, the various jump and punch sound effects are appropriate, and the rock- and swing-style music is fitting, but there's nothing overtly identifiable from the movie aside from a few brief voice comments.
The closest the game comes to resembling the movie is during the many prerecorded cinematic scenes that play after each level. These scenes weren't put together using actual movie footage. Instead, they're computer-generated look-alikes that employ slapstick situations and spoken dialogue that's similar in tone to what Aardman and Dreamworks produced for the movie. As noninteractive clips go, these scenes are generally enjoyable. The characters have a lot to say, their dialogue feels natural, and the overall visual quality is 10 times better than what's churned out by the in-game graphics engine.
Gameplay also doesn't draw much inspiration from the movie. For the most part, Flushed Away follows the blueprint that every generic 3D adventure game follows. Missions are split up so that you control Roddy during some missions, Rita in others, and Rita's boat, the Jammy Dodger, in the rest. Despite their looks, Roddy and Rita are functionally identical. They can both run at varying speeds, jump, double jump, and grab onto things, as well as smack enemies with their weapon of choice. The only distinguishing factor is that Roddy's weapon is an umbrella that also allows him to float across short distances, whereas Rita's preferred implement is a bungee hook that can also be used to latch onto faraway grapple spots. The levels featuring Rita and Roddy are set up like overwrought obstacle courses, and they mainly involve the repetition of simple tasks like jumping between platforms, swinging across ropes, and climbing up ladders. Once in a while, you'll have to drag a box, tiptoe past an enemy, or swat a bug or animal with your weapon, but these diversions from the boring obstacle-course format are uncommon. The missions where you have to gather salvage with the Jammy Dodger are slightly more enjoyable, if only because you spend as much time shooting enemies with golf balls and bottle rockets as you do steering the boat around floating hazards.
That sort of formulaic gameplay might be fine for younger players, but the game is also fraught with technical problems that will likely cause even the calmest of players to throw their controllers at the wall. In a nutshell, the camera tends to change positions at the worst moments, and the characters don't always land on ledges or grab onto ropes like they're supposed to. Roughly half the time, things will happen like they should, although you'll have to fight the controls and camera a little. The other half of the time, you'll end up jumping blindly and watching in horror as your character bounces off the rope you were trying to grab or slides right off the ledge you thought you landed on. You don't lose much progress from these mishaps, since you can respawn as often as you like from the previous checkpoint, but they basically eliminate any possibility of enjoying the game. After all, it's tough to have fun when you can't see what you're jumping toward and are constantly falling off of greased platforms.
Outside of the main single-player mode, there are some minigames to waste time with. They're just simple puzzle and shoot-'em-up games, but the ones that let two players compete are somewhat entertaining. The minigames also don't suffer from a broken camera and slippery surfaces like the levels in the main game do. Not that it matters much, since a few decent minigames hardly make up for such a crummy main quest.
Flushed Away is one movie-based game you should probably avoid. It doesn't do a good job of copying the look and feel of the movie it's based on, it's not all that interesting, and the technical problems are maddening.