Shrek the Third is your typical movie licensed video game. It follows the story of the movie, features characters from the movie, looks kind of like the movie and is simple enough that even the movie's youngest fans could play through it. Sadly this means it's not a good game.
Despite various puzzles (that really only count as puzzles for lack of a better word) and numerous playable characters, Shrek the Third is nothing more than a very basic button bashing beat-em-up. Whether you're Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss in Boots, Arthur or Sleeping Beauty, you can bash through enemies using only a single button.
You'll encounter the odd platformer-like jump, often made frustrating by an awkwardly positioned fixed camera, but even these minor set-backs won't stop you breezing through the entire single-player game in under six hours - more experienced players will likely find that number closer to four.
For what it's worth, each character has a special move meter that is filled up by collecting fairy dust, dropped by defeated enemies. Shrek and Fiona each have a super special move that can be triggered if the meter is completely full, causing time to slow down. The other characters each have themed attacks, such as Sleeping Beauty's move that makes the enemies fight amongst themselves.
As is the case with many beat-em-ups, you're often locked into rooms until you've defeated the enemy onslaught. This isn't the case all the time though, meaning you're frequently able to run through large sections of a level, dodging enemies along the way. It's hardly good game design, and also means you'll miss many of the items required if you want to complete each of the secondary quests.
Extras wise you get a handful of simple mini-games, such as a target shooting game and obstacle laden ship-based curling, plus a tower destruction game that also crops up twice in the main game. They're mostly games you'll play once and then forget about, but the tower destruction game is surprisingly fun with two players. On the 360 you've also got Achievement points, although getting them all probably isn't worth the effort.
Visually Shrek the Third looks acceptable but is by no means a stunning effort. On PS2 and Wii the game looks like a fairly middle of the road title, and the same is true on the 360, even though it features significantly better models and texturing. Bizarrely the characters often appear to be moving with significantly fewer frames of animation than they should be, giving them an old-skool appearance. The sound-alikes used through the game also vary in quality, from barely noticeable to way off the mark.
Shrek the Third's main problem is its complete lack of spark. It's bound to please youngsters eager for more of their favourite loveable green ogre, but it's really nothing more than a cynical cash in. Surprisingly it's not the worst movie tie-in of the summer, but that's not saying a great deal.