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Barnyard - Review
Written by Phil Thompson

There are a lot of things you don’t know about cows. They don’t just stand around in a field all day, munching on surrounding greenery. No, they’re up and about, always moving. They ride bicycles, protect crops, joyride, play golf, and according to certain advertisments, they’re on a constant crusade to increase the level of Calcium in childrens’ bodies. See, loads of things. Absolutely loads.

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Bovine thugs on cycles
Barnyard is frankly, one of the most hilariously silly games on the market. The fact that male cows can squirt milk from their udder ( which, by the way, they shouldn’t actually have, being male ) should be indication enough that this is a true kids game, but THQ obviously had to go one further, giving life to an outlandish cast of characters. Something to note would be the fact that every character with even a drip of significance is fully supported by ( rather impressive ) voice acting, something rarely seen in licenced games. Dogs, sheep, cows, racoons, chickens and pigs all feature, each as irritating and lazy as the last. The chickens, however, have an excuse – they’re probably too scared to go out. Damn you, bird flu. Damn you straight to hell.

Barnyard is almost sandbox-style, using a similar engine to that of Hit and Run – you’re given an objective, you solve it, you get another objective, you solve that one. The game certainly suffers as a result, often feeling very generic and linear. Many objectives are simple clones of earlier objectives, usually just with a different name. You’ll certainly find yourself searching for a list of items more than once, which can be very tedious and, well, boring.

Graphically, Barnyard is far more impressive than many games on the system thus far. Obviously nowhere near as good looking as the likes of say, Zelda, however Barnyard still manages, albeit just, to impress with few aliased textures or edges. Frame rate is virtually solid, with a few exceptions, and the whole game appears to run fairly smoothly, with short load times throughout.

The control method is questionable. It isn’t bad enough to ruin the game, but there are a few features THQ have decided to exclude in the development of Barnyard, in particular, the speaker. There are various ways to use it, superfluous as they are. While pretty noises coming out of a small speaker on the controller are hardly going to make or break a game, there’s potential to add real novelty value, especially in a game like this. I would certainly be amused by squirting noises coming from the controller, although it’s probably a good idea to note that I spent nearly ten minutes squirting milk from the roof of the barn in a moot attempt to reenact the Sony Bravia advert with the coloured balls and José Gonzáles. You know what they say about simple minds.

Unfortunately, Barnyard doesn’t seem to follow a plot as such. It feels very linear, set out as a sequence of events combined with a vomit-inducing bunch of over-used minigames, and as such, suffers immensely. While the game does last a good 10-15 hours, with more missions than you can count, it simply isn’t difficult enough to keep anybody over the age of seven interested. Nearly all objectives can be completed with a single attempt which, while typical of a kids game, isn’t all too impressive, especially when stores are asking £39.99 for it.

The verdict:

It’s quite good fun, but excruciatingly easy. Barnyard offers little to older or experienced gamers, and isn’t worth the asking price.


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