PERSONALLY, THE TOY STORY FRANCHISE has meant a lot to me. I will always remember that Toy Story was the fi rst fi lm I ever saw in the cinema when I was only 6 years old. Fifteen years later, the third fi lm from the franchise is fi nally out and now I’m a young adult. Not only that, but an accompanying game has come out with it too.
I can safely say this is the fi rst time a Toy Story movie has been properly presented as a game. The graphics resemble the quality of the animation itself, thanks to the advancements of modern gaming technology over the last decade. It's a vast improvement over the 2D look from the first movie game on SEGA’s Megadrive or the blocky polygons from Toy Story 2 on the PSOne.
Toy Story 3: The Video Game is loosely based upon the new movie.The main story mode allows you to recreate some of the more important scenes from the movie as well as add a few extras to prolong the toys’ adventure. There are at least three newly imagined levels in the game that you won’t see in the movie. For instance, one of them sees you, as Buzz Lightyear, flying through space to stop his arch nemesis, Emperor Zurg.
The main story missions are great fun to play; you can even play the whole game with a friend via the drop-in and drop-out co-op mode. Although Toy Story 3 is technically a platforming game, there are many other elements borrowed from other gaming genres. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but one scene sees Woody trying to avoid enemy toys fi nding him as he tries to rescue his captured pals. Another level sees you shooting at an army of evil muffins in a manner not too dissimilar from a third-person shooter!
You get to play as three characters only: Woody, Buzz and Jessie, which you alternate between throughout the story missions. I would have liked it if there were other playable characters as well; who wouldn’t want to play as Slinky Dog or Rex? Criminally, the witty Mr. Potato Head doesn’t even feature in this game despite being a major character in the latest movie. He’s not even animated in the background.
Sadly, there are only nine levels in the story mode and you’ll be able to fi nish the game in no time. Thankfully, in recognition of this, an entirely separate game mode called the 'Toy Box' is included. The Toy Box is like a kid-friendly version of Red Dead Redemption. It’s an open-world type Western environment where you can undertake a number of random side quests, with more quests unlocked once a certain quota is reached.
Although you are still limited to the three main characters, it’s still a pretty expansive area for you to explore. To make life easier, you can even summon certain toys to help you fi nish certain quests. One of the cooler features is being able to ride Woody’s own horse, Bullseye. With Bullseye you can do certain checkpoint races or just explore the world itself a la Red Dead Redemption. You can even challenge a friend to a race if you want to.
There’s no doubt that Toy Story 3 is better than your average movie-based title, but it’s still not without its faults. Not only is it short, but there are numerous camera issues too. The majority of the game lets you control the camera via the right stick, but at certain points the camera will be fi xed. This is when you’ll have to do the tedious jumping puzzles normally associated with platform games. I would have preferred the camera to stay in the hands of the player, as sometimes it can complicate trickier sections.
Surprisingly, there aren’t many movie spoilers to be had while playing through the game. There are some, I have to say, but neither the cutscenes nor the actual levels really explain exactly what is happening in the story. You’ll simply begin a level without much explanation. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as most people would have seen the movie before playing the game anyway. You’re supposed to relive the movie via the game, not retread the same story again.
Another issue I had was the difficulty of the game; some of the levels will be way too hard for kids to play, yet it’s too short and easy for older people. Given that the movie is aimed at both young kids and people who grew up with the other fi lms (like me), it’s hard to say whether they’ve got the pitch right with the game. Aside from a few minor fl aws in terms of the gameplay, Toy Story 3: The Video Game is still a highly entertaining game that captures the feel of the latest movie perfectly. The graphics rival the quality of the movie itself, and most of the voice actors from the movie lend their talents to the game for a more authentic experience. Not to mention the music is also ripped straight out of the movie soundtrack as well. It may not be the best movie tie-in game ever made, but it is better than most. Toy Story fans both young and old will defi nitely enjoy this game.