Gold & Glory: The Road to El Dorado recreates the adventures of Tulio and Miguel, the pair of Spanish con men from last year's DreamWorks animated film. While the heroic story of El Dorado may be a rousing enough tale, the console translation is just short of nauseating.
Gold & Glory shows off in the graphics department, boasting a large number of movie-lifted cutscenes and short computer-generated FMV sequences. However, the short sequences don't make up for a game that is so riddled with glitches, that it's downright unplayable. The character animation is achingly choppy: Initiating a run or crouch will invariably slow down your frame rate, as will picking something up, climbing some stairs, or sometimes just standing still. This gets so bad at times that your own expletives may drown out the dialogue.
Not enough of the story is revealed in the game, and many of the cutscenes serve only as eye candy, insufficiently filling holes in a plot that, without having seen the film, remains unclear. For example, in one instance, you arrive in the City of Gold, and, in the next, you're running from a giant stone jaguar, magically animated by the evil Tzekel-Kahn. You will have to read the instruction manual to not only learn about the game's chief villain but also about the protagonists' goal itself - the city of El Dorado. Furthermore, Tulio's main love interest makes only cameo appearances during the movie sequences - the game could have definitely benefited from including more of Rosie Perez's nubile young character.
El Dorado's largest failing is, without a doubt, its atrocious control scheme and gameplay mechanics, or lack thereof. Gold & Glory was designed similar to Sierra's classic PC adventure games, such as King's Quest and Quest for Glory. Your character is meant to go from screen to screen, picking up highlighted objects with the "activate" button and subsequently "activate" them on highlighted people or objects to solve puzzles that will unlock the next area. Sadly, all the imagination that made the old point-and-click adventures so inviting is missing here. Puzzles are ridiculously simple - more appropriately compared to inane guessing games and fetch-quests. A point-and-click interface would also have been preferable to the absolutely infuriating third-person Resident Evil-style movement. Characters are impossible to effectively control; their stuttering, skipping animations lead to situations where you're left facing the wrong direction and can't turn around, or else you are stuck behind an object or in an otherwise undesirable situation.
In their divine impracticality, the developer also saw fit to not allow interaction between objects and characters while the characters are sneaking or running. For example, one scene during the "escape from the brig" sequence on Cortes' ship was particularly excruciating. It consists of an observant guard polishing cannons in the center of a room, and quite clearly your objective is to sneak by him. However, the bandanna you can pick up off the floor and the cannon you can polish while thus disguised only flash to appear as usable when standing still. Thus, you may sneak past the guard dozens of times before realizing that you need to stand up suddenly when the guard is busy, in order to pick the object up off the floor. While this is just one of the many possible nonsensical situations, it serves to illustrate the poor design behind the game's mechanics.
The game's saving grace is its audio department. While the movie cast is notably absent from the video sequences, the voice actors do a suitable job of relaying clear and occasionally rather humorous dialogue throughout every bit of this compacted version of El Dorado. There is an interesting story here, buried deep within the otherwise unplayable mess. The background music accompanying the varying stages are enjoyable, and the ambient sounds accompanying levels such as the jungle and creaking ship are moody and fitting. It's quite a shame that the enticing audio presentation has virtually no compelling gameplay accompanying it.
Gold & Glory: The Road to El Dorado is a simplistic, extremely short experience, with abundant flaws that outweigh its few redeeming features. While this game may be marketed to younger moviegoers and El Dorado enthusiasts, the simplicity of the adventure is nullified by the obtuse nature of the control and gameplay. Fans of the movie may want to rent this game, if only to watch the cutscenes and experience the story again for novelty's sake.