reviews\ Jun 20, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Toy Story 3 360 review


Conceptually, Toy Story 3 is a brilliant game as Buzz, Woody or Jessie, players enter a non-linear world that is not unlike those featured in the Mario, Zelda or Jak & Daxter games. The graphics are lusciously detailed with rich, realistic water textures, gorgeous and brightly colored backgrounds, and silky-smooth animations. The characters are very well designed, though Tom Hanks clearly didn't lend his voice to Woody's video-game counterpart.

Collectibles are everywhere – coins, character outfits, and other bonuses can be found in nearly every area of every single level in the game. "Level" is a relative word though, since the whole game takes place in one giant environment that is comprised of several different Toy Story-themed locations, including Sid's house and the western-themed scenario from Woody's Roundup.

Toy Story 3 follows in the footsteps of other open-world action/adventures by containing high-quality controls that anyone can enjoy. The gameplay is easy to grasp and offers just about every Toy Story element you can imagine, plus several costumes inspired by other Pixar films (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Monster’s Inc., etc.). These features are bound to count at retail, especially when parents look into buying this game for their Pixar-loving kids.

With all of these pieces into place, this could have been one spectacular adventure. But a game is only as fun as the objectives it provides, and in that regard, Toy Story 3 falls apart.

In the overhyped Toy Box mode, players are bombarded with an endless supply of nonsensical scavenger hunts that involve pants, hats, and hair. You will be asked to build a barbershop (which can be accomplished with nothing more than a couple of clicks) and throw a toy citizen – everyone in this world is a toy – inside the building so that he can get a new haircut. You’ll have to perform a similar action to help a man get a new pair of pants, and to help another find a new hat.

This is the kind of silly and repetitive gameplay that makes up the bulk of Toy Story 3. When the objectives are fun – for example, riding Bullseye to compete in a series of checkpoint race events – there are too many of them. Later on, when you think you have finally seen them all, you discover that you can ride a dragon (who just barely differs from Bullseye) and compete in another set of races. You can also grab a magic wand and search the environment for toy bugs, which must be transformed back into toy humans.

When the objectives aren’t fun, they carry the weight of a prescription sleep aid. Few gamers will have the desire to redecorate a building with new plant life, but that’s just what you’ll be asked to do. You’ll also have to repaint a few buildings, and throw plastic cows uphill so they can graze. The list goes on and on, but somehow the objectives fail to muster an ounce of creativity.

Toy Story 3 also forces the player to repetitively collect gold coins (tokens) by searching the land for gold chunks to pick away at, and for barrels and boxes to crash through – all of which yield gold coin rewards. Technically, this isn’t required. But if you don’t have enough gold to buy new buildings, your mission progress will come to a screeching halt.

There are many ways to earn gold though, and while many of them are optional, few of them are fun. Everyone loves the plastic army men, so it was nice to see the developers include them in Toy Story 3. Unfortunately, they are featured in a slow-as-snails parachute mini-game that challenges players to launch a toy soldier into the air and glide toward one of several landing points. Easy? Yes. Entertaining? Barely.

Hamm and other Toy Story characters are constantly calling you for help, and if their missions amounted to more than, “Go here and perform this predictable act,” their requests may not have been so annoying.

Shall I get more specific? One character said she was catering a jailbreak and asked me to find five missing muffins. Another character made me run back and forth between a mountain and an explosive barrel dispenser in order to collect enough to dynamite to produce Mount Toymore (featuring the faces of Buzz, Woody, Jessie and Bullseye). Another wanted me to take a picture of Stinky Pete, and less than 30 minutes later I had to run back to deliver Stinky Pete a letter.

The repetition never seems to end. In addition to the Toy Box adventure, players can dive into a story-driven mode that vaguely follows the events of the film. Visually, it’s a treat; nothing beats a quick run through Andy’s room, which looks amazing on Xbox 360. But if you play Toy Box first, the Story mode’s lighthearted antics and lousy voice acting won’t hold your interest; they will only enhance the other annoyances.

In spite of the unbelievable number of issues Toy Story 3 contains (including camera problems – did I mention that?), a part of me feels that some very inexperienced 10-year-olds might enjoy portions of this game. But I did not, and that concerns me. If Cars (the original video game that was a pseudo-sequel to the original film) can entertain adult gamers even though it was clearly designed for kids, what does that say about a Toy Story game that fails to amuse the fans who grew up with the franchise?


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