Review: Wall*E (Sony PS3)

Wall*E (PS3)
Genre: 3D Platformer
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Publisher: THQ
Release Date: 06/24/2008

“3 billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor…”

You play as an H/K (hunter/killer) model Terminator, designation: Wall*E. The trip through time has robbed you of your weapons, so you must make due with the materials you find around you. Collecting scraps of garbage, you are able to make crude missile weapons to throw at your enemies. John Connor must not escape, no matter what the cost.

And with that paragraph I have crafted a game that is superior in all respects to Wall*E: The Video Game.

1. Story / Modes

Besides not being as good as the story I just made up using 30 seconds of my spare time, the story follows the movie pretty faithfully. For those blissful few not in the know, humanity has been, well, human, and trashed the planet due to overconsumption and a lack of recycling. Wall*E is left to clean up the mess and appears to be the only robot left functioning. He finds a girl, falls in love, fights for her across the stars, finds out she’s his sister and the evil steering wheel is his father and blows up a space station (twice).

Crap, there I go again, trying to make things better.

There’s a basic one-player mode and four different multi-player mini-games like laser tag and aerial combat.

Pretty standard, unappealing fare for my money. But then I guess it depends if you’re into the movie or not.

Story / Modes Rating: Mediocre

2. Graphics

Okay, here’s where we start seeing real trouble. Maybe I set the bar too high, but when I see Pixar + PS3 I think “This should be a good match”. Nope, sorry.

Wall*E, EVE and the other characters are clean and well done. The backgrounds are nice, if unobtrusive. But that’s about all I can say in terms of positive qualities.

I guess if I had to put it all together I’d call it “half-assed”. Wall*E can tuck down into a cube that can roll, which is well animated, but popping up he’s always upright. Destroyed trash will bounce off of you while it disappears, but will ghost through walls. The worst was the “sandstorm” which was about 5 sheets of translucent tan that sweep through the screen in rough, jagged patches. I’ve seen better particle effects on the PS2.

I think the biggest letdown was the cut scenes. PS3 power, working with Pixar, is it too much to ask for the actual scene from the movie? Yes, yes it is. Is it too much to ask for a decent facsimile thereof? But of course. No, we get the Junior cgi project from that video game academy you see advertised on tv. Purely adequate, but still, more PS2 than PS3.

Graphics Rating: Poor

3. Sound

The game starts with show tunes. Bad show tunes. Not some jaunty Gilbert and Sullivan anthem, or even a tired old Andrew Lloyd Weber piece. Campy, stereotypical, so-bad-it’s-almost-funny show tunes. Flames literally shot forth from my television set.

It lasted 5 seconds before my wife grabbed the remote and hit mute.

I argued that as a reviewer it was my duty to experience all aspects of the game, no matter how awful.

Once again I am reminded that my wife is usually correct.

After a 10 minute eternity of looping the Great White Way, the game settled into more traditional beeps and bleeps. They’re punctuated by the near ubiquitous advertising for BnL (WalMart but without the lawsuits), which helps set the scene, but gets annoying quickly. Dialogue is well done (what little there is), and probably lifted from the movie.

Oh, and you can hit Right on the D-Pad to make Wall*E make a noise.

These noises are an unlockable bonus.


Sound Rating: Mediocre

4. Control / Gameplay

Controls are fine. Wall*E’s a zippy little guy who controls a lot like an RC car. The button layout works, and everything does what it’s supposed to.

But the gameplay… where to begin?

The gameplay is, I suppose, designed for those avid game fans who suffer from severe brain damage and are unable to process the complexity and fast-paced nature of tic-tac-toe.

For starters, it’s slow, in that not a lot really happens. You spend most of your time rolling around throwing blocks of trash at targets and baskets. The game auto-locks really well, so there’s not much effort involved. Even when Wall*E gets a gun, you really just hold down the trigger and stay still. The auto-lock does the rest and the enemies are generally polite enough not to shoot back, or if they do the tend to miss you by millimeters. You know, so it looks like they’re trying.

But then it’s just stupid. There are trash vending machines (even on the nice clean spaceship) that will give you material to compact into cubes. 90% of them are broken though, and require a generic blue cannister to be repaired. The cannister is almost always in view of the machine. Just to your right in fact. About 2 seconds away.

Let’s put this in real world terms you you can understand the fullness of this absurdity. You’re leaving the house, but you can’t find your keys! Oh no, how will leave without them?! The day is ruined and little Susie will never get that new kidney you were bringing her!

Oh wait, there they are, 5 feet to your left.

Now do this every 3 minutes.

For 10 hours.

This is what Wall*E: The Video Game is like.

But, as they say in the infomercials, that’s not all! No, EVE is terribly broken as well. For starters, she doesn’t have lock-on. You know, the flying robot with the laser gun? Yeah, no lock-on. Why? Umm… hey, look over there, it’s your keys!

Where was I? Oh yeah, broken. Did I mention she gets damaged by flying into things? Not just flying into them, but touching them! And not just touching them, looking at them! The most fun I had in the whole game (besides knocking blobby humans out of their hoverchairs) was having EVE gently descend to the ground, where she’d begin to take damage. Then I’d rotate the camera upwards, and she’d begin to heal. I’d scroll down again, and the damage would accumulate. In fact, the farther down I looked, the larger the chunks of damage were. A quick glance upwards would restore all health. I probably did this for 5 minutes, laughing quietly to myself.

It had become obvious that playing Wall*E had damaged my brain.

Control / Gameplay Rating: Very Bad

5. Replayability

Replayability assumes you want to play it through at least once. That’s a big assumption.

Now to be fair, I’m a grown-up. A grown-up with an extensive collection of action figures, but grown-up. Would a child like this? Wouldn’t a little kid who loved the movie and bought all the toys and wanted to dress up like EVE for Halloween, prompting questioning looks between his parents, enjoy it?

No, not really.

Games, even platformers, have come a long way from the simple jump from A to B, place tab C in slot D mechanic. Children expect more. And this game can’t even do that bit right. 5 feet to the left? Christ….

To be fair, there are collectibles involved, so those of you with extreme OCD may give the game a couple of plays.

Replayability Rating: Awful

6. Balance

So far down the Easy scale it’s boring.

There’s a boss fight at the end of the second level. A giant robot who moves his arms up and down blocking your way. A hint box pops up that says “Try to find a way past the robot!”, followed by, “Try hitting the crates to release explosive barrels”. So you hit the crate a dozen times and one arm blows up, you hit the other crate a dozen times and the other arm blows up. Meanwhile, the barrels that are hurtling towards you can’t reach you at your designated box-hitting position.

I believe there was some shooting was involved later, but I think I fell asleep and let my lizard-brain do all the work. (and I’m fairly certain it fell asleep and delegated control to my autonomous nervous system)

Balance Rating: Bad

7. Originality

Movie games usually aren’t original to begin with, and this one doesn’t even try.

I suppose the box puzzles could count as original only because no other game would stoop to doing something so mind bogglingly simple.

Also I’ve never seen a game that had unlockable noises for your character. So it’s got that going for it.

Originality Rating: Dreadful

8. Addictiveness

It’s not addictive, it’s aversive. The game actually tries to get you to quit playing. “Give up,” it chirps, “nothing new is going to happen, and even if it does we’ll grind that action into the ground. Go find something more exciting to do, like watching your toenails grow.”

Addictiveness Rating: Worthless

9. Appeal Factor

There’s someone out there for everyone, and that includes video games. Disney, especially Pixar, engenders fandom to beat all, so I know somebody’s got to love it. There’s even an ad in the back of the instruction book for maquettes of Wall*E and EVE. So yeah, somebody’s going to love it. Just not me.

Appeal Factor Rating: Worthless

10. Miscellaneous

Alright, so it’s a movie game. Let’s be honest, no one’s expecting much, are they?

I suppose that the game follows the movie and does the best it can to make a game experience out of the content of the film. But even stacked up against other movie games it’s pretty bad.

Miscellaneous Rating: Bad

The Scores

Story / Modes: Mediocre
Graphics: Poor
Sound: Mediocre
Control / Gameplay: Very Bad
Replayability: Awful
Balance: Bad
Originality: Dreadful
Addictiveness: Worthless
Appeal Factor: Worthless

Short Attention Span Summary
These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Save your money and go see the movie.



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