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Nat Geo Challenge Wild Life

 

 

SCORE: 85

 

Nat Geo Challenge Wild Life 

 

Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life is a trivia game which draws its content from the immense National Geographic library. Beautiful imagery, bizarre facts, and family fun can all be found in this nature quiz game.

The best feature of this game has got to be the amazing quality of the images and video contained within. From the interface to the images to the videos, the game is beautifully presented in full 1080p HD. Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life features images and video primarily of, well, wildlife. Up to four players can immerse themselves in discovering new things about God’s creation. The game specifically features the categories of “Amazing Planet”, “Predators vs. Prey”, “Dangerous Encounters”, and “Aquatic Life”. Each section features images that correspond to these themes. There are some images of violence particularly in the “Predators vs. Prey” category that parents may want to be aware of. The images I encountered during play were what I consider mild and were not overly graphic. A pack of wolves dining on a freshly slain deer is one example of grisly wildlife imagery that you’re likely to stumble upon. There are also plenty of creepy crawlers exhibited in the game but overall the majority of images are stunning views of nature that well outweigh the gruesome moments. The interface of the game also looks amazing and makes simply navigating the menus enjoyable. Brightly colored tree frogs serve as your in-game characters which is a clever feature that fits the game perfectly.

The audio featured in Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life has its highs and lows (no pun intended). The background music is of a calming “classical” nature and blends in well with the game. The interface and in-game sound effects are crisp and clean and also suit this game’s style. The game is narrated professionally and sounds much like what you would hear while watching a documentary. The narrator also provides verbal feedback based on your correct or incorrect answers. When you answer correctly the narrator provides uplifting congratulatory comments. If, however, you answer incorrectly the narrator is anything but polite. His condescending mockery gets old rather quickly and becomes quite annoying. As if his sarcasm weren’t enough, there are only a handful of responses at his disposal thus compounding the annoyance as you hear the same comments over and over. I had also expected to be pelted with a lot of evolutionary materials in the game, but surprising I heard very little during my time playing. There was one brief reference to life originating from the sea, but other than that the questions were basically centered on facts and statistics. There is so much content here that it is quite likely that there are questions and video clips that did not come up during my play through the game leaving open the very real possibility that more evolutionary content does exist within the game.

This game will initially hold some replay value as it can be played with multiple players and features about 5000 questions, 2000 images, and 90 minutes of video footage. Given enough time however, players will undoubtedly run out of new questions as is the case with any trivia game. Players can earn trophies as they play and unlock additional puzzles. This adds to the replay value, but I would still expect the trivia to get old after a length of time. The PS3 version of the game retails for about $30 which is pretty reasonable for a newly released console game. Considering this low price tag and the amount of family time that you could spend playing this game together, I would say it’s a pretty good value.

While this is technically a trivia game, there are some unique aspects to Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life. There are actually several ways in which the questions are presented to players. You will get the standard multiple choice and true/false questions, but there are also some other less traditional ways in which you’ll be tested. Observation quizzes will show you a short video clip after which you must answer questions pertaining to things found within the clip. For instance, “What was the first animal in the clip?” or “What color were the lion’s eyes?” Higher or lower quizzes will present you with two animals and ask you to choose which is longer or shorter, bigger or smaller, or some other attribute. The quiz variety really adds a lot to the game and keeps it from feeling stale. There is also a quiz called “odd one out” where you are shown, for example, four images and you must choose which one doesn’t belong. I have a real issue with this quiz as it seems completely unfair to the player. The problem is that there may be several things that make one of the animals out of place compared the others but the player is given no specifics as to what differences they should be looking for. For instance you may be shown photos of a snake, a crocodile, a lizard, and a bear. My obvious pick would be the bear since it’s not a reptile which indeed does make it the odd one out. The game, as it turns out, actually wanted me to pick the lizard which was not a native of southern Venezuela. It may sound as though I’m exaggerating, but I assure you that this is very similar to the situation I found myself in on multiple occasions. In addition to the different aspects of the trivia questions, players can also play jigsaw puzzles and slider puzzles to assemble beautiful nature scenes. The jigsaw puzzles are fun to play and work surprisingly well with the PS3 controller. The slider puzzles on the other hand are difficult by design but the difficulty is enhanced greatly by their small size on the screen. Even on a large TV the puzzles are so small that you can’t really see the pieces well enough to arrange them effectively without getting uncomfortably close to the television. I should also mention that there is a “quest mode” in which individual players can quest around the globe answering questions and playing the various puzzle types in the game. This is a great single player option to keep the game entertaining. There is also a “Stat Attacks” mode where players go head to head in a sort of virtual card game. Each player plays a randomly selected animal card with various stats listed on it. Players choose the stat that they believe will beat the same stat on their opponent’s card. This game could have been good, but with randomly selected cards it’s not very balanced when your opponent draws a mountain lion and you find yourself holding clown fish.

Nat Geo Challenge! Wild Life is a great opportunity for families to spend some time together learning about the world we live in all while experiencing the beautiful imagery. For the most part the images used in the game are safe for the whole family other than the eat or be eaten situations such as the one I described earlier. This game is obviously not suited for players who are too young to read and comprehend, but for older children and adults there is definitely some fun learning potential here. On a personal note I’ve discovered that I know nearly nothing about Canada. After going 0 for 7 in the Canadian category, it is quite clear that I need to brush up a bit on our neighbors to the north. I would like to see future releases in this series though perhaps without the nagging narrator and the sadistic “odd one out” quizzes. Excluding the potential hints toward evolution, this game gets a green light from me for family friendliness. If you enjoy trivia and nature, this game is a great way to have some friendly competition with friends and family.
 -Roger

 

Graphics: 87%
Sound: 84%
Replay/Extras: 87%
Gameplay: 85%
Family Friendly Factor: 84%
System: Wii/Xbox 360/Playstation 3
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Rating: 'E' for Everyone
{Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Mild Blood}

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