Pixar quality or another failed cash-in?
360, All Formats
This year's Disney Pixar mega movie, as you will all know by now, is Wall-E. He's the lovechild of Johnnie 5 and a rather plain microwave which Johnnie denied ever meeting although he was forced to pay Child Support after a DNA test through a particularly nasty court battle. Suffice to say Wall-E is small, cute, and square. He's what everyone too small for the Dark Knight has been to the cinema to watch this month.
Cashing in on this success are THQ, who do know a good licence when they see one (Home Alone anyone?). Thankfully one of the biggest disasters of 16 bit gaming had not been repeated here, and Wall-E the game is actually a worthwhile platforming experience.
Wall-E follows the plot of the film, without giving too much away in the cut scenes for those who haven't seen it yet. Wall-E is a lone robot clearing up Earth, whose human population have left after over polluting the planet. Wall-E is a little garbage compressor, and he has been using his time to try to clear the place up for their return. When a probe named EVE one day appears and takes the only plant Wall-E has seen, he gives chase and ends up on a space station with the last of Earth's inhabitants and a HAL style maniac artificial intelligence who doesn't want to let anyone return to their home for fear it will be trapped in an empty star cruiser for eternity. Actually, it would have been put to good use in the elevators in Heathrow airport, which seem to have a mind of their own anyway.
THQ have done a good job of tying the platform action into the movie plot without letting one interfere with the other. Wall-E dashes around levels, making up compressed cubes from rubbish outlets he finds. He can use these cubes in a variety of ways depending on the cube, but most are used to flick switches or disable enemies in typical platformer manner. Wall-E can also pull his head and tracks into his body, forming an indestructible box. Travelling through rotating pipes with holes cut in the sides like this feels like you're in the house of fun rotating chamber in a wheelchair with a roll cage and the brakes on. For a dude with tank tracks for feet, Wall-E is a slidy little bugger and you have to wonder if he overdoes his daily oiling routine when he can't stop himself sliding from solid pavement over a ledge to his death below.
Given 10 minutes of play, you are soon used to the little zoomer's gift for speeding and the rate at which Wall-E can roam the levels results in a nicely paced game. Not all of the game is played with our little box shaped friend however; his co-star Eve is also a playable character and her missions bring a refreshing change of style to the game.
As a scout-bot sent out from the human's mothership, Eve's first priority is to find plant life on Earth and return it to the orbiting humans. Eve's initial levels get you used to her powers - flight is simple, with one button for accelerate and the left stick controlling her direction. The huge levels make for interesting exploring, especially with bonus items littered around which will unlock new stages and outfits for the game's two player levels. Many of Eve's missions involve racing through a series of rings and tunnels, which prove very good fun, especially when chasing Wall-E as he shoots himself through space using a fire extinguisher as his main method of propulsion. While it didn't work to well for rocket power trolley's on Brainiac, it's a different matter in zero gravity, and Eve certainly has her work cut out for her in trying to keep up. Eve and Wall-E work together on some of the levels too, allowing Wall-E to make huge leaps as Eve lifts and carries him across platforms.
Although the game is in high definition, and the Wall-E and Eve character models look fantastic, Wall-E's surroundings can look drab and textures are certainly not the high point. I'm sure those playing on PS2 will be perfectly happy, however in comparison to current gen games such as Ratchet and Clank or even Blue Dragon, Wall-E's graphics leave a lot to be desired. Disney's trademark musical numbers are included at the intro to some levels, but the Buy ‘n' Large stations chatter quickly gets annoying, and the music in some levels can get very repetitive - especially on some of the more difficult platform sections where you will crash more frequently than a 360 running Gears of War 2 demos in the Sahara Desert.
Overall, Wall-E is a very decent platformer with few issues - the main one is the it's 9 levels can be completed inside 10 hours with ease. Achievement points are your standard fare, with no encouragement to try and do anything particularly interesting. Although the game is easy, there is certainly replay value in going through the game again to uncover all the bonus items you may have missed the first time through. The local multiplayer is also damn good fun, with up to 4 players on a machine smashing each other to bits to collect scrap, or racing through rings as Eve and stealing each other's scores.
Whilst not the classic that the film looks set to be, Wall-E the game is a sure fire hit for the younger fan of the movie, and as a platformer on the 360 (which is starved of this genre of games) it's a good weekend's worth of fun for a rent.