Wall-E Xbox 360, PS3 Review
Set on Earth eight hundred years in the future, where a single mega-corporation has assumed the position of government and the world has become so polluted that humankind has fled into space, Wall·E is could be considered something of a negative commentary on mass consumerism and environmental apathy.
Is it ironic then, that Wall·E has an inevitable movie tie-in video game that has been released on every conceivable format, in every conceivable language? (Except for Welsh)
Ever since E.T: The Game was held partially responsible for crashing the entire video game industry back the early ’80s, movie-to-video game adaptations have generally been regarded with scorn. And with good reason, as time constraints and the difficulty of translating cinematic endeavours into engaging gameplay usually result in a poor-quality product.
So how do you take a movie with minimal dialogue, about the last robot alone on Earth, and turn it into a fun video game? Don’t ask THQ, as they clearly haven’t got a clue. They’ve only gone and created a typically terrible action-adventure title that completely fails to appeal to its intended audience.
Wall·E’s ‘special skill’ is crushing trash into cubes. This is something you can expect to do several hundred times over the course of the game. But, despite this sounding extremely boring, it never once threatens to feel any less than tedious. There are four types of cubes, two of which you will use more than once in the game, the charge-cube and the heavy cube. Getting excited yet?
Bafflingly, cubes can only be made from trash-dispensing machines (why do these even exist?!) which almost –always need to be fixed by finding an additional component. This missing part is consistently found RIGHT NEXT to the machine that needs it. This piece of game design is so utterly pointless that it defies further explanation. It’s akin to the game presenting you with a door that has a key already inserted into the lock and a giant neon sign above reading “TURN ME”.
Gameplay as the the lovable galvanised-turd Wall·E alternates between cube-throwing and basic platforming. The animated box-on-wheels handles like… a box-on-wheels, mostly adequate. The bigger issue here is with the camera, which actually turns out to be the most interesting enemy in the game. It’s unclear whether the epic battles you’ll be having with this game’s camera were intended, or whether the personification and malicious personality the camera appears to have is the result of some sort of emergent A.I.
Playing as Wall·E’s more sophisticated love-interest EVE is an experience that actually edges towards actually being enjoyable. EVE can fly, and as such her levels are much more open and free environments than Wall·E’s linear crawls. Unfortunately, EVE’s controls are more annoying than a sight-impaired elderly bus driver with a faulty hearing aid – fixed camera, single analog control; hold a button to move forward. Her levels are also completely without any semblance of challenge and the tasks are more repetitive than what the average McDonalds worker faces. Fly through tunnels/rings, find a certain number of items scattered across the map. Despite this, her levels are the least irritating part of the game, so it’s a shame there are only two such levels in the game.
Strangely, for a game that is clearly aimed at an audience that has only just learned how not to defecate in their underwear, Wall·E includes some rather harsh difficulty spikes. Although most of the game is so easy that it would drive the most hyperactive child into a coma, later levels introduce a dangerous red floor that if touched will INSTANTLY DESTROY YOU! If you see your child alternating between fits of catatonia and weeping frustration, don’t call the exorcist or child psychologist, simply burn any copies of Wall·E in you home (preferably before your child’s eyes) and they will be cured.
Graphics can be best described as PS2 textures that have been sharpened to HD resolutions (i.e. ugly as sin). The visuals completely fail to capture the charm that is inherent in Pixar movies and instead evoke feelings of bleakness that aren’t usually encountered outside of Holocaust films. The usual suspects of frame-rate dropping and screen tearing are all present and correct.
Glitches and bugs are minor, but you’re likely to come across some during a play-through of the game. The most amusingly bad ones include – Wall·E slowly sinking into solid floors and objects like a dead chicken into a swamp, and Wall·E suddenly doing a Torville & Dean impression as the physics engine seems to recognise random patches of tarmac as ice and the little robot goes sliding over them.
The sound design of Wall·E is undoubtedly the most headache inducing ‘soundtrack’ ever created. Imagine the most nerve-twitchingly bad melody that you might hear in an American cartoon, multiply that by a thousand, and then imagine this on an eternal 5-second loop. Move over Waterboarding and Sensory Deprivation, the U.S. Government has a new favourite torture technique!
Wall·E does also feature a number of collectible items, and some multiplayer modes, but by the time you get around to these you’ll likely have thrown either this game, or yourself, out of the nearest window.
Somehow someone somewhere managed to design and create a game that is almost completely devoid of fun and enjoyment. If you do purchase and play through this game, you’ll be left thinking of all the better ways you could have spent your time. Such as watching paint dry, bouncing a tennis ball against a wall, surfing random articles on Wikipedia and banging your head against a brick wall.