STAFF REVIEW of Toy Story 3 (Xbox 360)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010.
by Brian Kowalchuk

Toy Story 3 Box art Toy story 3: The video game is published by Disney-Pixar Interactive Studios and published by Avalanche Software. It is a movie based puzzle/platform game. Toy story 3 was, for me a dichotomy. When I first started playing I was immersed in the game and I was a kid again. I felt that way most of the time actually, and not always in a good way. The thing with this game is that its hard to tell who the game was made for, but whether you are an adult or a child, there will be a mix of laugh out loud fun and severe frustration. I don't want to give the impression that the game is broken, its not; to tell the truth, after the first two levels and some time in the "Toy Box" I was going to give this game an awesome review. After finishing the game I'd say its a really fun game with a few problems.

Initially I was quite impressed with the it put me in world. Graphics are flawless. The characters were spot-on. They moved as they should, and the textures were perfect. Toys looked plastic (that's a good thing) and fabric looked and moved realistically. My guess is that Pixar was overseeing this aspect of the game. The world was also spectacular with interesting detail and dramatic vision. Lighting was well done especially during the night missions, and although there is no option to control brightness or gamma it was bright enough to see what you're doing.

Sound design is also another area where this game excels. This title offers In-game Dolby Digital sound. The characters are all voiced by the actors and actresses from the films. Music was also good and changed depending on your play. The developers did a great job with the little details. I was surprised by the nuances in the sounds of the footsteps, plastic on carpet, ductwork or wood were all unique and seemed authentic. All the background or world sound were great with the exception of one level, where the repetition of the machinery caused me to turn the sound off.

Gameplay experience started great. When you start the game you play as Woody, but after the first level you can swap out between the three main characters. Each toy has a unique ability that you will need to complete some levels. Woody can use his pull-string to swing from place to place in order to cover large distances. Jessie has the ability to jump and land on very small surfaces and although Woody and Jessie can both pick up toys and throw them while Buzz's special move is a super-throw which launches the other players to heights or across spaces that could (otherwise) not be reached.

After you complete the first level the game divides into two separate sections. The first is to continue the "Story Mode" where the main plot of the game plays out. The other option is the "Toy Box" mode, which is the games saving grace. This section is an open-ended kid friendly sandbox, a sugar coated Grand Theft Auto if you will. In this town you can build and customize all kinds of structures from Barber and Tailor shops (where you can change the hairstyles and clothes of the townspeople) to jails and banks. In this mode you have access to "Al's Toy Barn" which allows you unlock new areas and buy new buildings and townsfolk with the money you find or earn doing missions in this area. As far as this areas missions go they're more like tasks, very easy and usually quick. In the town you can travel on foot as well as on horseback, you can even buy a car and drive around town or on a stunt track.
There is so much in this area that If you buy this game, you will spend most of your time here. Another fun aspect of this section is the drop-in drop-out split-screen co-op mode. I played with my niece and found it to be tons of fun.

I should take a moment to talk about kids games and Xbox live. In a world where a lot of families are split-up developers should consider Live co-op a must. Although I have no children of my own, many of my friends play Xbox with their kids, but only when they're there. I believe that kids are missing out if they can't play games together because there mother or father is not living with them, and not just parents either what about siblings, cousins or friends

I think the days of video games being just for the nerd playing alone, are done. Xbox Live is more important to me as a social networking tool than Facebook, which is on Xbox anyway. I could go on but I'll step off my soapbox and get back to the game.

The main story line is where the Toy Story 3 sometimes suffers. The missions are interesting and diverse, but some of them are marred by limited camera angles, and touchy controls. There were times when I wanted to throw my controller in frustration.

I knew what I was supposed to do and I knew how to do it but I just couldn't make it work. I don't suck at gaming but I'm not at the level of a ten year old Asian boy with three extra fingers on each hand. Some levels, like the escape from Bonnie's house were just ridiculous, with checkpoints way to far apart and poor camera angles it seems to me like it would be impossible for a kid to complete. Though the levels themselves are not repetitive, thanks to the aforementioned problems I found myself repeating things too often.

There is a good hint system for kids that will give a hint or show them how to accomplish a goal, which I had to use on occasion. My niece who is 9 years old says she likes that "there are no time limits and no game overs" She loves the game but has only played the first level and Toy Box.

The re-playability in this game will come from the Toy Box Mode, kids will play this for hours. I doubt I would re-play the story mode but would jump back in the Toy Box.
Overall I would say Toy Story 3 is a good game that is sometimes unsure of its target demographic.

Xbox Live co-op would have been good.

Overall: 7.7 / 10
Gameplay: 7.1 / 10
Visuals: 8.4 / 10
Sound: 9.3 / 10


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