|System: PS3, PC, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Avalanche Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Disney Interactive Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 15, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
If the games Metacritic page is any indication, Avalanche Softwares Toy Story 3 has been quite a hit with critics and fans alike. Were here to be that guy: this game is highly, highly overrated. There. We said it.
True, Toy Story 3 stands head and shoulders above most other movie games. And yes, there are some moments of sheer genius here. But for the most part, Toy Story 3 is just like every licensed kids game: a series of easy and mundane tasks that keep children occupied for a few hours, but dont serve much of a purpose beyond that. Theres nothing wrong with that, but theres nothing to go crazy about, either.
This title gets off to an amazing start. Youre dropped into the middle of a fantasy sequence from the original Toy Story. Playing as Woody and riding Bullseye, you have to chase after a train to rescue some kidnapped orphans, avoiding various obstacles. Once you catch the train, you jump aboard in a cutscene, and proceed to fight your way to the front. This involves some demanding platforming, and even some third-person shooting (be sure to take cover!). By the time you get to the end of this brief sequence, its hard not to be excited for the game ahead.
The game ahead, however, is where the problems lie. The map screen is a board game, and there you can choose from a variety of options. You can re-play the intro sequence (Train Rescue), watch the cutscenes youve unlocked (Toy Story Theater), poke around in Als Toy Barn, or select from Toy Story 3s various sub-games. The most substantial of these games is Woodys Roundup, a sandbox-style Western that takes several hours to complete. Youll explore your surroundings, accomplish missions for the people you meet, accumulate gold, and buy various buildings, vehicles, and items. Its basically Red Dead Toy Story.
Some of these missions are fun. You have to rescue a mule from the top of a mountain, and reaching him entails some great platforming. Its enjoyable to master some of the time-trial-style races, and to throw criminals in jail. Too often, however, the missions just make you go through various motions, adding to the play time without adding any actual value. All you do in one mission, for example, is buy the town a barber shop and get someone a haircut. In another, you paint some houses, customizing the colors any way you like. These tasks can be cute (the townsfolk look like Lego characters, and there are a lot of colorful customization options), but its hard not to get the sense that youre wasting most of the time you spend.
Heading back to the map screen, you can play the other games, which add up to a campaign of sorts. (Theres no real story; its just a hodgepodge of Toy Story scenes that happen to lend themselves to the video-game setting.) Our personal favorite is the Buzz Video Game; in the opening cutscene, the characters sit down to play it, and then you take control of Buzz as he hunts down his arch-nemesis, Emperor Zurg.
This game-within-a-game is a stroke of genius. As the camera moves into different positions and you face new hazards, the gameplay shifts styles. By the time its over, youve played two-dimensional platforming, three-dimensional platforming, third-person action, Star Fox-style rail shooting, and even some top-down action. Many of these sections are reasonably challenging. The level design is a little repetitive in places, but the Buzz Video Game is definitely one of Toy Story 3s highlights. If only the rest of Toy Story 3 had this much excitement.