Review | Toy Story 3
You’ve got a friend in this
Format: Xbox 360/PS3/PC/Wii/PSP/DS | Genre: Platformer | Publisher: Disney| Developer: Disney | Release date: 16/07/2010 | Price: £39.99
Jennifer Allen learns just what it’s like to be a kid again with TOY STORY 3.
THE CALMING effects of gaming should never be ignored. Of course it’s easy to ignore how relaxing they can be. For the most part we spend our gaming time shooting things, driving fast cars and saving the world. There’s more to gaming than that though – honest. An ideal example is Toy Story 3, a game that’s far from perfect but can’t help but make you smile.
Admittedly, the smiles aren’t immediately obvious. Throw yourself into the story mode right from the start and Toy Story 3 feels like any other film tie-in game: generic and far from memorable. It’s not a bad game by any means, it’s just fairly uninspiring. The story mode only takes a few hours to complete with only 8 fairly brief levels on offer, most of which are comprised of some form of platforming. There’s a glimmer of imagination in the form of a stealth level, however, which provides a welcome respite from the predictable levels surrounding it.
Oddly, considering its target audience, the story mode is not without its challenges. These are more a matter of trial and error, and finicky jumping sequences rather than any real challenge. It does grate a bit and will induce a few choice swear words. It’s also a shame that both Tom Hanks and Tim Allen’s voices are nowhere to be seen, but this is somewhat mitigated by some witty one liners courtesy of the other Toy Story characters.
If all Toy Story 3 had to offer was the story mode, this would be a ridiculously short review and a very poor way of spending £40. Fortunately there’s the Toy Box mode which is a sight to behold.
The Toy Box mode is fantastically true to its name. So many games have used the sandbox model to great effect, but no one has really tried to implement this for children. Strange really when you bear in mind that, while kids like structure, they adore being able to use their imagination and create their own stories – something that Toy Box mode does perfectly. This mode lives up to its name, actually feeling like you’ve got a huge toy box at your disposal. For the child, it allows them to play imaginatively on a games console. While for the child in me, it allows me to regress back to happy memories of playing with toys.
Red Dead Toy Box
The first area is Woody’s Roundup, a cowboy themed setting which instantly encourages comparisons to Red Dead Redemption. It’s a fair comparison too as this does feel like a child’s version, albeit with no violence or swearing. This is where things become much more laid back.
Remember how you could just wander around Mexico doing whatever you liked? Imagine this but with toys from your youth thrown in to give you a few more options. You can complete World of Warcraft style collection quests; you can race Bullseye the horse around the area, collect up lost cows, put new clothes on your townspeople, or you can just run around collecting up coins and exploring. Everything is full of charm, even minor details like the fact that you have to physically throw your townspeople into the tailor or barber in order to change their appearance. There’s not just the cowboy theme on offer either with the ability to explore Zurg’s Spaceport and Sid’s Haunted House too. More items can also be unlocked via the story mode, thus giving you extra reason to actually complete that side of the game. Ultimately though, it’s warm, it’s fun and it’s stupidly cute. Co-operative mode is also well implemented with it being easy to drop in or out of a game. Players aren’t even restricted by the other person either as the game is happy to let both players do whatever they want within the game without constricting anything. The sense of freedom that a bottomless toy box would offer is clearly there throughout the entire Toy Box mode. There’s something wonderfully innocent about it all.
So, should you buy it then? That all depends on if you’re a child at heart or not. If you think life is real and hard, and that even games should offer harsh challenges, death and explosions, then you shouldn’t have even started reading this. If you crave the escapism that a Pixar film can offer, being able to retreat to your 10 year old self where life was a much simpler affair – this is perfect. And of course if you’re a parent, finally another game for the collection that you’ll be as happy to play as your children are also. Anyway, I’ve got some lost sheep to track down and a miner to free.