It's quite often the case that big film releases are snapped up ready for licensing for a computer game without a shred of an idea as to what the game is going to be. This usually results in the game being a rather weak action game that is only loosely based on the characters within a film. Lucasfilm have a very different opinion. They think that the only way to do justice to a film in a computer game is to produce a graphic adventure, and Ocean have take a leaf out of their book with the licence of the hit movie Hook.
You take the role of Peter Banning (who is, in fact really Peter Pan - he just doesn't know it just yet), who is taken to Neverland to try and rescue his children, who have been captured by the evil Captain James Hook. Unfortunately, Peter has completely forgotten all about his times in Neverland as the eternally youthful leader of the Lost Boys (no the blood-sucking, Kiefer Sutherland variety, but the friendly orphans). You must guide Peter around (with help from Tinkerbell), involving puzzles, finding useful objects and talking to characters before you can retrieve your children from the clutches of Hook.
WELL I NEVER!
The plot of the game is only loosely based on the film (after all, it would be a bit easy to complete if it was exactly the same), using characters and situations as clues to how you should continue, rather than enhancing the plot. Most of the situations and people you meet on the way aren't in the film at all.
The game is controlled via the usual sort of 'point and click' interface. You simply point at the command that you want to use (look at, talk to, pick up, use or give) then the person or object you want to manipulate. Walking around is even simpler. Just click on the point you wish to get to and Peter will walk there.
A particular sharp eye is needed when playing the game, since unlike most adventures, you aren't given any hint as to the usefulness of an object. You have to 'Look At' EVERYTHING on a screen to find out whether it can be used or not - you're given no clues whatsoever! If you want a piece of advice, you can try talking to Tinkerbell to get an extra clue or two, but she doesn't often give much information away.
The plot hardly captures the innocent charm and fun of the film
Interaction with the other characters is done by using the 'Talk To' icon. This gives you a set of questions you can ask (which are cycled through using the right mouse button). This is one of the main problem areas. Whereas in something like Monkey Island the conversations evolve as you go on, allowing the characters to develop their own part in the story, Hook simply churns out on the same messages time after time, making everyone in the game seem a complete dullard.
One thing that is pushed forward in the Peter Pan story is to 'keep thinking happy thoughts'. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done while playing Hook. The graphics have been very nicely done in places (there were, after all, five artists working on the presentation) but they lack the style found in Monkey Island 2's wonderful artwork.
Some kind of wonderful?
It's a shame the graphics aren't wonderful, since the presentation is all that Hook has in its favour. The plot hardly captures the innocent charm and fun of the original film, and the gameplay is just too boring to keep any adventurer for long. At times it appears that complete lunacy has taken over - especially in the way that some of the clues are given. Tinkerbell gives 'clues' to do things that have been done about 10 minutes ago!
The control system is one of the most limited to appear on an adventure for quite some time. Five commands? Come on! The unwieldy control system is also very difficult to use. For example, after attempting to use an object, you have to click the icon to stop using it before you can do anything else! This is very frustrating when you're trying to carry out a series of actions.
Due to the style of the game and the obvious pirate connotations, some comparisons may be levelled between Hook and Monkey Island 2. However, comparing Peter Pan's digital adventures with Guybrush Threepwood's mighty escapades is like comparing a Gameboy to an Amiga. Hook lacks the scope, atmosphere, humour, style and enjoyment of Monkey Island 2, ending up a rather dull adventure with no real staying power.