29th June 2010 - Over the last few years we’ve been given only a very select few decent movie tie-ins in the gaming industry, and the same can be said for the whole of gaming history, with only a few stand-out titles and a plethora of under worked and under produced movie games that just simply don’t cut it in any way a gamer wants it to. And with this trend, most of us wouldn’t expect much from a game based on a kids movie based on living, talking toys now would we? Well that’s why we a lot of us gamers will stay away from the latest from Avalanche (a relatively unknown Disney Subsidiary responsible for some under-par Disney games, but more importantly a few good Mortal Kombat ports), and unfortunately too, as Toy Story 3: The Video Game is a move tie-in which deserves to played by gamers of all ages. Read on and I’ll tell you why…
Toy Story 3 puts you straight into the action when you start it up, neglecting to really introduce you to the characters or give you any kind of back-story. Its as if you are already familiar with the characters and settings of the Toy Story universe. Okay, we most probably all are, so I’ll forgive Avalanche on this one.
It’s a relatively easy game, and you can pick up the controls within a minute or two. This was one of my only problems with the game, given I am an older gamers who actually plays games on the harder difficulty settings right away, so I was quite annoyed at how unbelievably easy essentially the entire game was. But it is a kids game, therefore I cant really hold it against it. The games story missions are made up of some light combat, occasional stealth and a lot of platforming. It’s a good thing there’s a lot more platforming and puzzle solving than fighting too, as the platforming gameplay is superb. Most missions let you control multiple characters, and each character has his or her own skills, all useful for different types of platforming and puzzle solving. You will need to switch between them all and use every skill available to you to complete missions and collect all the hidden goodies laying around the place. But its sad to see, that the games combat and other gameplay techniques aren’t even in the same league. Combat takes the form of one button to press, and the game doesn’t supply any kind of challenge in this department. Cummon, even I liked a little bit of challenge when I was a youngster!
But gameplay mechanics aside, Toy Story 3 has a little surprise you may not have known about. Namely the Toy Box. This is an entirely different and unique gameplay mode, with just as much - if not more - content as the ‘real’ story part of the game to be called its own game. This is where one of Toy Story 3’s bigger, more enjoyable good points comes in to play, as the game is essentially two smaller games in one package. The Toy Box is a free-roaming world with customisation options, a ton of missions and lots of cool stuff to see and explore. You can buy and build new shops and buildings, all of which open new mission possibilities and ways to complete the smaller, side-mission type quests which will have you interested for hours. In all honesty, this is the brighter part of the Toy Story 3 package, and that’s not just because it’s the more ’grown up’ part of it, but because of how well the Toy Story universe, characters and concept works in the Toy Box. Kids will love this, as it will let their imagination flow and make them want to pick their own toys and re-enact all their best moments. And a lot of us older gamers who also enjoy a bit of casual fun will also find a load of enjoyment within the Toy Box.
As any game based off Pixar animation magic should do, Toy Story 3 looks just as if its come straight fro the animation studio. It certainly looks the part and fits in with the movie, and most impressively, the game has some amazing character animation. Like the films, the toys all move with fluent yet almost rag doll-like floppiness and where applicable solid-plastic stiffness. All their ball and shifting joints are animated very finely both in-game and in cutscenes, adding a certain amount of immersion for the kids who will find solace in playing with toys they don’t own themselves.
There isn’t much to be said about the graphical department here, as its all pretty much what you would expect; A bunch of toys running around the house and other buildings, and in the Toy Box, things look like its ripped straight from a child’s mind, with complete and total immersion in an old-western world full of fantastic characters and evil entities alike.
In a very good move, Avalanche managed to get most of the voice actors from the films to reprise their roles here, and those that didn’t aren’t any kind of noticeably bad. The script is reminiscent of the movie’s; easy to understand, simple and fun. It does have its share of one lines that are sure to make adults shake their heads, but kids will love the cheesy dialogue. The games soundtrack also features some of the films trademark tunes and songs, and features a classic Toy Story themed tune for the duration while you’re platforming and customising your way around the game world. But although the constant background tune is pretty neat, it does become frustrating and repetitive, especially in Toy Box mode. This really lessens the enjoyment once you realize just how sick of the tune you are, and you wont soon forget it while you’re playing.
Toy Story 3 is a decent game, and while it may not provide anywhere near the amount of playtime as other games being released do, it manages to still give gamers some unique playtime. And the word ’playtime’ has never been so appropriate as it is now, as you will get sucked into the Toy Story world for hours on end, that is until the end. The main story mode is very short, even today when the average game is around 8-10 hours long. But worry not, the Toy Box mode will hold you over long enough to get your moneys worth out of the game, which is actually very cheap compared to the usual full-price tag slapped on practically every game released.
Toy Story 3 also features a rather enjoyable co-operative mode. Playable through the duration of the story and in Toy Box mode, this is a fun way to play with other gamers of all ages. You can play with younger siblings, nieces/nephews and for you youngsters, you could even coax your folks into playing along a mission or two with you. Its great fun for gamers of all ages, and adds a good amount of replayability and enjoyment to the mix. So do the few intelligently placed collectables in the story mode.
A great take on a great film series, Toy Story 3 provides hours of fun through a story mode and its own slab of awesome; the Toy Box mode. Not without its issues however, Toy Story 3 is an enjoyable game that will satisfy gamers of all ages who are just looking for a bit of harmless fun and maybe a playthrough with a younger family member. Avalanche Studios have successfully turned this immortal series into an unforgettable video game.
AAG SCORE: 8.2/10
+ Toy Box mode is a great concept with good execution
+ Gamers of all ages will find solace in this title
+ Great animation and voice work in par with the film
- Story mode is very short and way too easy
- Music gets very repetitive and annoying
- Combat is very under worked and too simplistic
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott