The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
If licensed titles are in one of gaming’s lower circles of hell, at
least the condemned can peer down and laugh at the majority of games
designed for children. Kids’ games are often poorly designed, shoddily
built, and rushed to market before they’re ready. They’re also cheap to
develop and dependable sellers, so publishers don’t have much incentive
to reevaluate the status quo. Why mess with a successful formula?
Disney Interactive and Avalanche Software have strayed away from the
genre’s quick and dirty inclinations with Toy Story 3 after realizing
that such an approach serves no one particularly well. It’s bad for the
audience, and can only diminish a license as cherished as Pixar’s Toy
The bulk of Toy Story 3 is divided into two modes. The
first is standard fare for licensed games, taking key scenes from the
movie and transforming them into levels. A Toy Story 2-inspired section
starts with Buzz Lightyear showing off his rail-shooting prowess and
platform-hopping capabilities before letting him flex his brain with
some rudimentary puzzles. One of the later sections in the game
requires quick switching between Buzz, Woody, and Jessie as they tap
their unique abilities to advance through a garbage dump and rescue
their friends from a trash compactor’s gnashing metal teeth.
the levels and playing through the story is enjoyable enough, but the
game really takes off with a second player on board. Reiner and I
played through the game cooperatively, though at times we stretched the
definition of the term. The game is designed so that skilled players
can carry their partners through the experience, similar to how
Traveller’s Tales approaches co-op in its LEGO games. Players can also
literally carry their partners, opening the door to some hilarious
moments of sabotage. It’s not unlike New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where
players can knock their friends into hazards or pick up their buddies
and chuck them directly into pits.
Playing through the movie’s
story is fun, but it’s not nearly the most interesting thing in Toy
Story 3. The second mode, the toy box, lets you hop into a Woody’s
Roundup-themed zone and mess around in an open world. At first, there’s
not a whole lot to do but smash barrels and pick up item-filled
capsules. After getting a few missions from Hamm, Slinky, Stinky Pete,
and a few others, the world opens up. You can buy new buildings and
playsets from Al’s Toy Barn, some of which allow access to new areas
and unique missions. After pouring a few hours into the town, I had
developed a bustling little community filled with customizable people,
buildings, and plenty of tasks on my to-do list. One moment I was
capturing escaped bandits and tossing them back into the jail. The
next, I was tossing plastic paratroopers into the air and guiding them
onto their targets.
As with the story missions, the entirety of
toy box can be experienced with a friend in tow. Better still, players
can act independently. Every once in a while I’d glance over at
Reiner’s half of the screen and see him painting a building for a
mission or tossing renegade cows in a pen. Activities like races
require the two players to join up, but you can play through the
majority of the mode doing your own thing should you desire.
Story 3 ultimately succeeds in the same way that Pixar’s films do –
it’s attractive to young people who get a great surface experience and
for older audiences who appreciate extra layers of depth. It also poses
a challenge to those who are satisfied with churning out half-baked
licensed games: You can do better, and the results of that effort are
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Toy Story 3 made me feel like I was seven years old again, using my
imagination and creativity to bring an assortment of toys to life.
Similar in concept to many of Peter Molyneux’s games, the player
assumes the role of a god ruling over a world made of plastic. I
dressed all of my townsfolk in flower print dresses, painted all of the
buildings to look like clown fish, and removed the sun just because I
could. The challenges in this sandbox experience are engaging and
varied. One second you’ll be asked to save a herd of cows; the next
you’ll find yourself parachuting army men. Useful rewards (such as new
buildings, characters, cosmetics, and playable toys) are thrown out
liberally, and give players plenty of reason to explore every inch of
this world. Designing your own toy kingdom is a blast, especially with
the help of a co-op friend. Toy Story 3 delivers the same
fun-for-everyone charm of the LEGO Star Wars games, yet offers a rich
experience you can’t find anywhere else.