Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre Image            THQ’s market performance has improved over recent years, with the company becoming one of the major publishing labels for videogames in Europe. Much of this would be due to the publisher’s successive string of Disney/Pixar and Nickelodeon titles, as well as handful of original Intellectual Properties aimed at family gaming. However, the publisher has also earned themselves a warm spot in many hardcore gamers heart. Seemingly having piped EA to-the-post with the idea of leveraging risky projects aimed at the hardcore market with the revenue made from their licences and Family titles. Games such as The Outfit, Frontlines: Fuels of War and Saints Row may not have ever seen shop shelves had it not been for titles such as Disney/Pixar: Cars or the WWE SmackDown! franchise.

            It would be easy to think of Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E as another title Electronic Theatre Imagedestined for the bargain bin within six months. It’s common knowledge amongst videogame players that film licences generally offer little in the way of innovation, or even rewarding gameplay. However, THQ’s performance with these titles over the years has steadily increased our expectations, with 2006’s Disney/Pixar: Cars raising the bar, and last year’s Disney/Pixar: Ratatouille performing better still.

            Immediately from the hand-holding Training Level, Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E demonstrates greater production values than any of THQ’s previous Disney/Pixar work. With fantastic Cut-Scenes establishing the emotion – if not much of the story – and the player asked to take the part of a small cog in a big machine. Gears of War is still to this day praised for it’s “destroyed beauty” aesthetic, yet Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E offer a sun drenched vista of a used-up world with equivalent impact on a Previous-Generation machine.

The bulk of the Single-Player Campaign comprises of Platform Levels which rely on logistical puzzle solving, and feature little or no combat. An unusual design decision for a Family Movie tie-in, but one that pays in dividends; by most recent comparison Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E is not a million miles away from the charismatic Portal. ATARI’s Alone in the Dark has recently been commended for its real-world style puzzles, and Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E actually makes its own attempts in its fictional universe. Although basic at best – probably limitations imposed due to hardware and target audience, as opposed to developer skill – Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E features it’s own selection of weight- and speed-based puzzles. Each of the Levels typically involves the player working through an arena designed around the puzzles at-hand, reaching and then destroying blue Crates to collect Tokens to pass through a Gate. Each is immaculately designed and feature no bugs or sticking spots while maintaining a high-standard of graphical flourish – quality reminiscent of Nintendo’s own Platform gems on GameCube.

Other Levels range from on-rails shooting to adrenaline-pumping rushesElectronic Theatre Image through obstacle courses. Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E does feature some poorly judged set-pieces – a particular instance being a dash across ramps and under barriers on thin ledges in the first third of the title, upon which Wall*E’s tight handling and the Camera’s slow movement can cause unnecessary annoyance, especially when these gameplay elements can truly set the heart racing when at their best. Completing Levels unlocks Multi-Player Mini-Games, as well as Bonus Points for the player to spend on the Cheats and Bonuses of their choice. Hidden Artifacts (each of which triggers a unique and amusing Cut-Scene) and BnL Crates populate Levels, encouraging replay.

The control is tight and has been well implemented. Each action Wall*E can perform is fleshed-out and positively enhances the gameplay. The character’s jump ability is limited, amount to little more than forward rolls when travelling at slow speeds, and many of the title’s puzzles are based around this design element.

The Mini-Games are just that; Mini-Games. While some added enjoyment may be evident with the games younger players, especially in the handful of Multi-Player games, there’s little here to warrant any real time investment.

Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E is without a doubt one of the finest looking titles on the PlayStation2. While Shadow of the Colossus may have already been elected as the format’s best performer in terms of milieu, and God of War has beenElectronic Theatre Image attributed the same accolade for it’s charismatic Kratos and his on-screen dignity, both judgements had been made before Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E had even been announced, and may have been somewhat premature. Although the story constraints sees a handful of the game’s Levels saturated with a sterilised Sci-Fi coating, the majority have Draw Distances greater and offering more detail than comparable Current-Generation offering such as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk: The Videogame. Wall*E himself looks dazzling on-screen. High-resolution textures and a high polygon-count fill the simple right-angled Character Model with the same personality as that of the motion-picture.

Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E is a surprisingly inventive game. Playable from start to finish and with plenty to write home about, THQ have presented yet another success to go alongside Disney/Pixar: Cars and Disney/Pixar: Ratatouille. The only real issue is for the hardcore audience, who, although will still become perplexed at a handful of the title’s puzzles, may be put-off by the game’s overall relative ease. Clearly more than a simple downsizing of the Current-Generation Disney/Pixar’s Wall*E games, the PlayStation2 release is currently a contender for the formats game of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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