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Gorillaz: Escape to Plastic Beach

For: iPhone

Melancholy and madness with Murdoc

Product: Gorillaz: Escape to Plastic Beach | Developer: Matmi | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Gorillaz: Escape to Plastic Beach iPhone, thumbnail 1
It was always going to be a little bit nutty, but even after escaping to Plastic Beach for some time, it's still hard to define Gorillaz's game.

It's something of a first: a full blown release based, almost track by track, on Gorillaz's latest album Plastic Beach.

Taken purely as a promotional vehicle, it's an especially loyal release. Indeed, tracks from the album play throughout. As a game, though, it's hard to nail down what it's trying to achieve.

Wing and a prayer

As the name suggests, Escape to Plastic Beach is all about putting a stop to repeated attempts by band member 2D to break free from Plastic Beach headquarters.

Using the accelerometer, you take charge of fellow band member Murdoc who guards the island by flying around on a glider. Keeping an eye on 2D's movements means gliding around the island and shooting him down before he has a chance to escape.

With three different sensitivity levels on offer, flying should be a bright and breezy affair. However, it never really gels. Part of the problem stems from the lack of a calibration option, although performance on older handsets is suspect.

Jerky movement makes soaring around the game's blue skies a less than silky smooth experience. Playing the game on an older device results in an almost intolerable slowdown that undermines the smooth beats for which the band is so well-known. If you're playing on an iPhone 4 it's perfectly fine -otherwise, expect a little friction.

Freedom fudged

Taking 2D out requires touching the screen when you have him in your sights. Unfortunately, this means saddling up extremely close to 2D, usually within metres, to guarantee a hit. Flying so close naturally puts you at serious risk of crashing into the ocean.

Airborne hoops offer speed boosts an extra seconds on the clock, but pursuing such aids usually diverts you from your primary objective corralling 2D.

It's almost as if the levels haven't been constructed with the task in mind. Hoops are purposefully placed to sweep you around in a big circle, all while 2D dawdles around the sea out of range.

Add to this a series of collectibles and you have stages that play like a big game of aerial pinball in which you bounce from hoops to collectible and back again.

Holiday from hell?

The question is whether you're willing to be diverted from each level's main objective in pursuit of extras. It's possible to zip through doing the minimum required, either taking out your bandmate or landing on the base's handily placed crash mat in quick time enough to bring each stage to an end.

Doing so makes Escape to Plastic Beach a soulless and perfunctory experience, but given the slightly ratty nature of the controls and the meandering level design, venturing off to enjoy the sights and sounds of Plastic Beach's surroundings isn't a compelling alternative, either.

It simply feels like a half-hearted effort. Whether that's because Gorillaz's album, or indeed any album, isn't suitable material for an adventure title is a matter up for debate, but Escape to Plastic Beach is neither addictive enough, nor creative enough, to warrant an extended visit.
Gorillaz: Escape to Plastic Beach
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 29 July 2010
Admittedly loyal to the band's latest release, Gorillaz: Escape to Plastic Beach is a scatterbrained affair that doesn't deliver in terms of gameplay
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