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Review

Review: WALL-E

THQ's video game adaptation of a brilliant movie. Got to be good, right?

Look at WALL-E above: his wide, sad-filled eyes staring longingly at you, his potential game-buying market, but are you too old for WALL-E?  While Pixar films brilliantly cross the line between their intended audiences of both adults and children alike, this game (based on the movie’s major moments) was only ever going to appeal to kids, and in that respect it probably succeeds, but the game isn’t without its flaws.

WALL-E’s existence on Earth is a lonely one.  With the population having deserted Earth for five years due to an over greedy monopolistic corporation, he’s left cleaning up all the waste us humans have left behind.  The Buy n Large company took everyone into space and left these Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class machines on the planet to spend every moment compacting the trash into neat little cubes.

And it’s here you come in.  After the project failed, Buy n Large abandoned Earth completely, and after several hundred years you’re the last remaining WALL-E unit.  With a few sparks of electricty on the planet, WALL-E starts to pick up human traits via the television, and begins to develop emotions.  Whilst the main chunk of the initial stage of the game doesn’t really get this across, some cute cut-scenes break up the monotony of the rudimentary platforming and collecting action.

Despite a clear focus on targetting the game for younger players, some of the puzzles in the first level alone can be quite taxing.  Sure, a lot of them dissolve down to switches and timing, but without clear signposting and because the entire level looks the same from start to finish it’s often hard trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do next.  Essentially broken down to using the trash to make cubes of various properties (WALL-E can throw the light cubes, use the heavy cubes to weigh down buckets and another cube contains chargeable energy) the solutions are straight forward enough but you might want to help out with some of the harder tasks.

Similarly, some of the platforming action requires quick timing and a fair amount of precision jumping, although WALL-E himself is fairly robust and there’s always loads of life points (via the Sun) to recharge any lost energy.  Finally, the framerate isn’t consistent, and this can cause the occasional problem when trying to judge the tougher leaps.

So the game starts off pretty slowly, introducing the various elements you’ll need to be familiar with, but after the first world you’ll meet Eve, a robot from the future who makes up the flight sections.  Eve’s levels are far more action packed and exciting, and conversely a little easier to play, too, and although her character doesn’t have the same emotional range as the titular WALL-E, together they’re a great combination.  The controls in flight are responsive and far more straightforward in terms of direction.  Later still in the game the mechanics shift again to a shooting affair, which whilst it seems at odds with the previous levels makes for an interesting diversion, although we longed for a return to the platforming when these sections outstayed their welcome.

So, it’s obviously not going to set the gaming world alight, but despite some clunky graphics and the overall feeling that the title could have done with another few months development to round out the gameplay, it’s really not that bad a game.  For fans of the movie (and we urge you to watch the film first to get the most out of this) it’s a decent companion and we’re sure it will have its fans.  It’s certainly not the worst game we’ve played this year, and it even raised a smile or two as we played through the storyline.

The presentation is pretty slick, load times aren’t intrusive and the menu system is a nice fresh idea.  The music, naturally, fits the big-screen version perfectly and all the sound effects are nicely done.  We’re a little disappointed in the visuals – the frame rate suffers right from the first time you pick up the Dual Shock, but for the most part it doesn’t really matter.  This is a game intended to be played alongside its Pixar big brother and provide an experience that kids will relate back to, and it does that just fine.

5

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