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Toy Story 3


To Infinity and Beyond, One More Time!
Games adapted from Pixar movies haven't fared very well on the HD gaming platforms, likely because any attempt at creating a replica of movies like The Incredibles or Wall-E are going to fail miserably in comparison to the films. Frankly, movie tie-in games are typically of lower quality than the films themselves due to the rushed development cycles that are forced on the creators. While the Toy Story 3 Blu-ray was recently released, Toy Story 3 (the game) was created by Avalanche Software for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 & Wii back during the movie's release; they seemed to have set out to create something much more entertaining than Pixar adaptations of the past. The story is loosely based on events that occur in the movie, most notably the opening scene recreating the Western themed chase that leads Woody racing across the desert. But where they step aside from the retelling of the story is a creative mode called Toy Box.

toy story 3 woody riding horse in west

Toy Box allows the player to enter an open world filled with missions and tons of Pixar characters from the entire set of Toy Story movies. You choose between Buzz, Woody or Jess and become the sheriff of the town. It's up to you to solve the problems of the townsfolk and are rewarded with cash to purchase a variety of structures. The nice thing about this mode is the freedom allowed to do what you want. Would you rather decorate and build up a town rather than doing missions all day? You can. Would you rather wander around the world on your trusty steed and compete in races? You can. It takes much of the concepts that we've seen implemented in open world games since Grand Theft Auto and populated it with Pixar's characters.

Another great addition to Toy Box is the ability to play cooperatively with a friend. I was able to play with my much younger cousin for a couple hours and he loved being able to run around doing missions while I built up areas of the town. Players don't have to stay within range of each other in the open world and can do whatever they want. My problems with Toy Box is that the missions start to get repetitive after a while and the developers missed an opportunity to include a complete in-game map for exploration purposes. It's probably more fun for a younger demographic as well as the missions are on the simpler side.

toy story 3 buzz lightyear flying

Getting back to the main story mode, there are 8 levels in the main campaign that last about 3 or 4 hours. It's fun re-enacting some of the scenes from the movies (like the Buzz Lightyear Video Game from Toy Story 2), but you ultimately know what's going to happen if you caught Toy Story 3 in theaters. This is very much a platformer, so expect to running around and leaping to catch onto ledges from time to time. The controls feel way too loose for a platformer and I had problems catching onto ledges as well as mastering the driving controls. It feels like the game was tuned for looser motion controls using the Wii / Move controllers rather than the finer tuning of a regular 360 or DualShock controller.

The achievements are relatively easy to knock out, but the open world tasks will require more time than the story based achievements. Purchasing every item from Al's Toy Barn or finding every collectible in the game will eat up a fair chunk of your time. There's not a vast amount of skill required to complete the set though, likely more for young players though. Many of these achievements tie into the game's vast array of hidden objects that kids will love searching for.

toy story 3 buzz woody jess talking

Graphics

  • The game's visual engine isn't up to the same caliber as the movie (obviously), but still looks decent for a Xbox 360 release. You will likely be more amazed at the fluid character animations and how their toy bodies effect natural movements. The game uses an extremely colorful palette (identical to the films) and the film's most recognizable scenes are recreated faithfully by the developer.

Audio

  • I'm somewhat dismayed that Pixar didn't lineup Tom Hanks and Tim Allen to voice Woody and Buzz, but I suppose they were too expensive to include. You will find the vast majority of the voice actors from the movie included though and they sound fantastic. I do wish there was more variety in the musical selections and the sound effects though. After spending a few hours in the open world mode, you are going to want to mute the annoying music.

Conclusion

Toy Story 3 is clearly targeted at a much younger demographic of players than the vast majority of Xbox 360 releases, but there's plenty of entertainment value for young adults that grew up on the Toy Story movies. The Toy Box mode alone is enough to justify a purchase and the Story Mode slightly helps increase the value of the game despite the easy difficulty and short length. If you have kids that loved the Toy Story movies, you are very safe with letting them tackle the Toy Story game on any console. A tip, there's was a version that was sold at Wal-Mart that included extra theme packs for the bargain hunters. Otherwise, you have to spend Marketplace points on expanding the game's content.



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