Toy Story 3 Xbox 360 Review
It was inevitable that Toy Story 3 would spin off a videogame. It’s a huge movie that’s going to be a smash-hit at the box office and videogame publishers usually eye this up as a chance to make some quick cash from the films popularity.
Normally when this happens, the video game representing the movie usually turns out to be terrible, or at best mediocre. There is, however, the occasional game that breaks the mould and this time that game is Toy Story 3. Yep, you’re hearing my correct; Toy Story 3 is a good game. Avalanche Software has taken the source material and created a superbly fun experience that is aimed at kids, but still enjoyable no matter the age of the gamer.
Toy Story 3 is split into two game modes. The first mode is story mode, which sets up levels based on or inspired by sections from the film. There are also levels that are added to the story, so you aren’t always playing along with the film as such.
Sadly there are only eight levels in the story mode and playing through these can take around three or four hours. It’s a real bummer that Avalanche Software didn’t make more because some of the levels are designed exceptionally well. A stand out level takes place in Bonnie’s house and beings with the room flooding with coffee as you have to escape from Dolly the ‘evil’ witch by jumping, grabbing and swinging using Woody’s pull-cord.
After all the coffee dodging you jump through a window and land in a futuristic space location. The best thing about this part of the level is that it feels like a homage to ‘Final Rush’ from Sonic Adventure 2. Woody must grind rails through space, travelling to different locations and dodging hazards.
Most of the game is based around platforming, but it throws other activities in for good measure. There’s a Buzz Lightyear level that acts as if the toys are playing the videogame based on the galactic hero (that appears to be on the SNES based on the controller that Rex is using – some mighty fine SNES graphics I must say). Buzz must fly to Zurg’s base avoiding obstacles and blasting boulders with his laser.
A problem with the story mode isn’t just the length however, but also how easy it is. There’s no real challenge as such. There are sections where you will die because you didn’t know you had to jump at a certain time, but the generous checkpoint system and unlimited lives allow the player to replay without any sort of negative outcome. It feels very much like the Lego videogames in this respect.
If you’re up for finding collectibles then the story mode will last a bit longer. There are plenty of items to find throughout the levels, and sniffing them out will allow you to view toys in the game’s model viewer. Some of the levels in story mode allow the player to switch between three playable characters, Woody, Buzz and cowgirl Jessie. The way this is implemented isn’t to the fullest effect, but it does show potential.
All three characters remain in the level, suspended in a state of in-animation until you select them. This allows for all three characters to interact with one another to accomplish tasks; like allowing Buzz to pick up another character and launch them into the air to reach areas that would normally be inaccessible by jumping. Sadly apart from the garbage factory section, the premise of multiple character interaction never really shines in Toy Story 3.
What does sparkle in Toy Story 3 is the toy box mode. Toy box mode is like a mini sandbox game. It sticks your character (Woody, Buzz or Jessie) in an open world town where you can freely explore the surroundings. The toy box mode is full of missions to complete; although super easy (again it’s aimed at kids) it doesn’t stop the fun that can be had.
Toy box mode features all the characters you know from the films and gives them an identity in the town. For example, Hamm the piggybank is the Mayor. He gives you requests, such as dressing up the townsfolk in “I love Hamm” shirts so that they will vote for him in the election.
Quests come from all characters and are quite varied, ranging from throwing robbers into jail, collecting cows, racing on horses, sticking people in a dance barn or saving a person who is trapped in a cave. None of these quests last any longer than a few minutes as they are simple to follow and understand but accomplishing them earns gold to spend in the shop. The shop contains new buildings, characters and objects that can be used in the town. There are even cameos from the likes of The Incredibles and Wall-E.
Buildings bought can be modified through preset colour schemes and designs. People can be dressed up, have haircuts, etc, through different structures such as the saloon and tailor, but that’s as far as it goes. There isn’t full customization available, so you can’t modify the physical shape of the building or create your own toy or race track, which translates to not being able to mod your toys like Sid did in the first Toy Story film. Remember the freaky-arse spider-baby-face? Yeah…
One impressive feature about Toy Story 3 is that all the game modes can be played cooperative with another player. Better still there are no shenanigans reducing the experience. This is full on story and toy box mode split-screen action with a buddy, which really enhances the experience. There’s just something about playing Toy Story 3 with a friend; maybe it’s to do with reliving past memories as you take on the roll of Woody and Buzz (come on, who really wants to play as Jessie?) and finish their adventure. Whatever it is, it’s a laugh.
Pixar are known for their high quality CG films and Toy Story 3: The Videogame is no loser itself when it comes to presentation. The look of the game, from the environments to the characters are rendered spot on, and animate as if they had just been ripped out of the films. Woody does his little flurry of feet in the air when he’s jumping, and moves exactly as you would expect, with that stiff wiggly movement.
It’s details like these that make you see how well the studio has done at bringing Woody and company to a videogame. Not all the voice cast could make it to the videogame adaptation of Toy Story 3, but those who didn’t (like Buzz and Woody) are replaced with some pretty believable soundalikes.
So despite its short-comings, Toy Story 3 is a remarkably solid licensed game. It’s not going to blow any brains or break boundaries, instead it’s going to give kids and even grown ups, certainly Pixar fans, a solid and cheerful experience. For kids especially, but for everyone else it will no doubt provoke memories of childhoods long-gone. After the nostalgia has worn off you’ll clearly see that It’s not quite “infinity and beyond,” but there’s always a next time for that.