Game Review: Toy Story 3: The Video Game (Xbox 360)
Release: June 15th, 2010
Developer: Avalanche Software / Disney Interactive
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, DS, PSP
Players: 1-2 Local Drop-In/Out
ESRB Rating: E – Everyone 10+
Don’t write this game off as just another sub-par movie tie-in game. This game is entertaining, fun and somewhat addictive – even for adults. Using a unique approach, Avalanche Software crams two games into one package; one that roughly follows the story of the film and another that is an open world sandbox playground.
The game opens with a cut scene taken directly from the opening of the movie. Seen via Andy’s imagination, Evil Dr. Porkchop (Ham) and his band or three-eyed aliens are up to no good and it’s up to our heroes, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, to save all the orphans on a runaway train that is barreling towards a destroyed bridge. Taking the part of Woody, you must make your way to the train, leap on and fight your way from the back of the train to the engine while dodging water tower spigots, and other obstacles. This opening level is fairly challenging and might cause some younger gamers to put this game aside as you must pass this level before getting to the main game menu. Once past this first level, there is much for gamers of all ages.
The game’s main menu is fashioned to resemble a board game. This allows a choice between the two game modes, Story Mode or Toy Box Mode. Each has its own style of play and delivers two completely different gaming experiences.
The Story Mode is just what every movie tie-in game aspires to be. Playing as either Woody, Jesse or Buzz Lightyear, you follow the adventures laid out in the film, however, being familiar with the film does not spoil the game. Even with this familiar formula, this game feels fresh and fun with platforming, puzzles and mini-game like tasks. The controls are straight forward making it easy to just pick up and play with minimal tutorials.
Toy Box Mode is a departure from the standard movie game formula. If you can imagine a Toy Story themed, family friendly version of Red Dead Redemption, you wouldn’t be far off. You begin in a large area and begin mining gold and constructing buildings, or just wandering around collecting items to be made available in the General Store. It’s up to you. Ham is the mayor of the town and needs your help, tasking you with mini-quests that, in the beginning, teach you all the different activities in the Toy Box. Among the tasks you can toss bad guys in jail, paint and decorate the buildings, dress the townspeople, race horses and cars, play with parachuting green army men, herding animals into their holding areas, getting pictures of special events and characters, helping aliens, and much, much more. There seems to be an endless selection of stuff to do. Progressing though these mini-quests unlocks new areas; Zurg’s space port, Slinky Dog’s farm town and a Haunted Mansion themed area among them.
Both modes support split screen multi-player which works very well, allowing each player to go about playing however they like, dropping in or out of the game at will. There are some activities that will come up full screen and pause both players. For example, if either player begins a race, the other player will have the option to join the race, no matter where they are or what they are doing.
Where the Story Mode feels geared for older, more skillful gamers (on target with its ESRB Rating), the Toy Box Mode has tons for children as young as three to enjoy with just a little help from an older sibling or parent. In fact, Avalanche Software could have completely discarded the Story Mode and this would still be a fantastic game.
I feel that putting the train escape sequence ahead of the menu is going to give some players a false sense of the games difficulty level as it is quite challenging compared to the remainder of the Story Mode. I fear many will get frustrated with the opener and not make it to the Toy Box, which is the real gem here. If you have younger children 3-7 years old, this game is a lot of fun to play in the Toy Box with them. All Toy Story fans over seven, including adults, will surely find many things in both modes to enjoy. If you have doubts, rent it first, but with the number of hours of game play in the Toy Box alone, this game purchase is easy to justify.