Can you believe it has been over ten years since Toy Story 2 graced cinemas and homes the globe over? I had a think about it and it feels quite surreal. Well Toy Story 3 is here, and is already making a truck load of money, so why not cash in on that even more? Well that’s what we’re here to discuss today, Toy Story 3: The Video Game.
Released on practically every platform known to man, Toy Story 3: The Video Game (TS3 from here on out) is a platformer giving players three characters to use. Sherriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Jessie from Toy Story 2 all return as playable characters, each with their own special ability that comes into use through the various levels. Woody can use his pull string to fly across gaps and holes Indiana Jones style, Buzz can pick other characters up and throw them across large distances and Jessie can balance on small ledges like darts lodged into walls.
Like it should, the game follows the plot of the move throughout a series of nine levels that are accessed on a board game style menu. Then as a side mission of sorts players have access to something called “Toybox Mode”. In this section of the game players have access to a huge area in which they can build a city and modify nearly everything about it. It’s not just that though, as located within the city is a bunch of reoccurring mini quests that reward the player with money, as well as access to a bunch of new items to dress their citizens in. There is also various areas in the Toybox Mode, my favourite being one where you get to harness the destructive power of a dragon to break through new areas you could previously not explored.
With these coins you can also buy whole new buildings, which then in turn unlock new quests and give you even more fun. It’s easy to play Toybox Mode for hours on end, and I think that is a testament to Avalanche Software as they went into the creation of Toybox Mode trying to recreate that feeling of being a kid and just making anything you want with your toys. That’s not to say the single player story element isn’t engaging, as it is, and possibly one of the more fun story modes I have played of late. All the levels look faithful to their movie counterparts, and the Buzz Lightyear section is something I recommend everyone to check out.
When looking at the game play of TS3 something everyone should keep in mind is that this game is obviously targeted towards little kids, and as such is obviously not going to offer a huge difficulty curve or anything challenging for seasoned video game veterans. That being said, there is still some difficult moments that I don’t understand how little kids could even complete them. Taker the above Buzz Lightyear section in which players recreate the opening scenes of Toy Story 3. One part of the level sees you jumping across a large expanse of land on nothing else but tiny broken pieces of ground, and basically every time you move more and more of the level breaks. It was even leaving me frustrated.
Everything is fun though, and there wasn’t any gripes I had with the game play as such, but more so the controls. As with most platformers, movement is controlled with the left stick and camera angles are controlled with the right. But the environments of TS3 are generally tight, and as such the camera often goes out of control, forcing you off of ledges and often forcing you to lose a few minutes of progress. Now when this happens multiple times over it becomes a major annoyance. Another control based issue I found was targeting and movement. During the Buzz Lightyear section you can’t aim your weapon and move at the same time. Now revert this back to being a kids game, and the fact at times there is five or six enemies chipping away at sizable portions of your health bar, and once again you have a problem. It feels like with the right TS3 does, it backs that up with noticeable, and quite bad wrongs.
Sound wise in a movie based game the first thing you’re going to look for is voice acting, and luckily TS3 delivers. Most of the cast did voice work for the game, and as such we aren’t left with a B grade over the phone job. The game has a nice upbeat soundtrack that doesn’t get overly annoying or repetitive, and at times you really forget it is even there. Mix this in with the various vocal quips the characters throw in at spontaneous times and TS3 really delivers.
Something I thought was very well done was the environmental sounds and music, and graphics. Everything looks great in this game, and the musical score matches the environments you’re in perfectly. The game presents that vibrant and young bouncy look that the movies have, giving a really nice looking graphical appearance and feel.
The one level I keep referring to is the Buzz Lightyear one, as it really does display some great looking moments and sounds. You’re running across an open expanse, meteors hurtling from the atmosphere casting scorch marks across the ground in front of you. It all sounds good on paper, and looks even better in person. The characters all look brilliant and as authentic as they could without being in the move themselves, which really helps draw the player into the game.
Many people are going to wonder how much playtime will they actually get out of the game, and the answer is plenty. I won’t lie, the main story can be whipped through in about four to five hours, but the real playtime is in Toybox Mode, as you can literally do anything you want, for as long as you want. The missions open up periodically, which actually gives it a feel very similar to Red Dead Redemption or any of the Grand Theft Auto series. It is easy to play Toybox Mode just for fun find yourself coming back time and time again.
In closing, Toy Story 3: The Video Game is an enjoyable experience even for myself at nearly twenty years of age. Avalanche Software has done a brilliant job at crafting perhaps the first move-to-game experience I have played and not been left feeling disappointed. I recommend it to everyone, especially if you have fond memories of waking up and just playing with your toys for hours on end. Also, if you own a Playstation 3 and you get a copy of this game you get to play as Zurg. Lucky sly dogs!
+ Possibly one of the best movie-to-game ports made
+ Hours of play in the Toybox Mode
- Clunky controls and problematic camera
- Difficulty really makes me wonder if kids could pass it
Toy Story 3: The Video Game was developed by Avalance Software and published by Disney Interactive Studios for the PC, Nintendo DS, Sony Playstation Portable, Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3. The game released in the United States on June 15th 2010 with a retail price of $50.00 USD (Xbox 360). The copy used in this review was for the Xbox 360 and sent to us by THQ. The game was played to completion for the purpose of this review. Specs of the review kit are as follows; Xbox 360 Arcade with 60GB HD, Samsung P2350 23″ HD Monitor (1920×1080), Tritton AX720 Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound Headset.