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WALL.E Review

WALL.E pack shot
Developer:Heavy Iron Studios
Publisher:THQ
Genre:Action/Adventure
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://wall-e.playthq.com/
Release Date:July 4th, 2008 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
 

Movie tie-in games are far from a rare commodity. Every single new release either has a game ready to roll by its opening night, or has one in the wings for later months. So, when Wall-E dropped onto my porch, I was suitably worried.

In my experience, movie tie-in's tend to be slapdash efforts to milk the consumer for all the cash they have, but with this one I was pleasantly surprised- this is a fairly wholesome family game with a charming plot and only a few little faults.

Ok, so there's this robot called Wall-E, standing for "Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class," who's basically a rolling rubbish compactor with eyes and arms. For 700 years he's been cleaning up an abandoned Earth after humanity took a corporate sponsored '5-year cruise' so that when they returned the planet would be clean as a whistle and ready for habitation.

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Unfortunately, the mega-corporation who enticed humanity off Earth: Buy n' Large (BnL) have cleverly set the 'cruise' up so that it would be practically impossible for humanity to return- so that they will spend their lives aboard massive spacecraft, shopping, eating and sitting themselves into oblivion.

In the meantime, after 700 years Wall-E (or Wally) is the last unit still processing waste, and he's become a little eccentric, but most of all, he's lonely.

Then EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) arrives. She's a space age I-pod like robot who's designed to locate plant life on the planet and return it to the ship so that humanity can come home. Despite hundreds of failed missions, on this occasion she finds a sapling that's been growing in an old boot that Wall-E carries with him, and that's where the adventure starts, now I don't want to spoil the plot, so I'll stop there.

The game loosely follows the plot of the film, starting out with an early mission set in the wastelands of Earth. It has two playable characters- Wall-E, who can crush cubes of rubbish into offensive weapons, and EVE, who comes with a built-in pulse rifle and a seriously aggressive attitude.

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Starting out as Wall-E, the player must navigate the ruined city and make his way around in a method akin to the platformers of old. Wall-E can scrape up and crush debris into cubes that can be used to interact with the environment, such as hurling a crate at a target to lower a platform etc etc. The cubes come in several different flavours: electric, normal and magnetic, and each one interacts with the environment in a different way. For example, if you need to power up a walkway, you can roll Wall-E next to a 'BnL power transformer' with an electric cube and power up the console. And if you need to clear some barrels out of your way, just hurl a magnetic crate at them and watch them slide off.

Wall-E can also jump a little distance and turn into a cube at will- handy for the constant 'rotating tube' puzzles that litter the landscape.

The gameplay as Wall-E, while fun, is simplistic at best for an experienced gamer, but would present a challenge for children, who, after all, are the target audience for this kind of game. After a couple of levels EVE arrives to begin her search and play switches over to her. EVE is capable of flying and her levels consist of flying about looking for items and blasting obstructions. Some levels also have her racing down tunnels in time trials or blasting a certain number of boxes as the clock runs down.

Wall-E and EVE also team up at points throughout the game, where the player has main control of the squat rubbish compacter with EVE (and her cannon) floating alongside, and they follow the linear route through the level, solving the simplistic puzzles as they go.

The puzzles get a little harder later on; featuring obstructions such as magnetic walls that Wall-E can attach to and a few tricky sequences involving thousands of rolling, overweight humans.

Also included are a couple of 'shooting' sections, where Wall-E gets a hold of EVE's cannon and proceeds to blast his way through the level. These, while a nice break from the platforming aspect, seem a little odd when juxtaposed with Wall-E's cute nature.

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The real stand out points of the game however come in the cut scenes and the sound effects. Ben Burrt, the man behind another famous robot, R2D2, designed wall-E and EVE's noises and beeps and he's managed to convey a surprising amount of emotion in their interactions.

The two main 'bots tell the story in their own signature style, and the young gamers who've seen the movie will appreciate the effort that THQ has gone to make the game match the movie, even without clips from the film reel itself.

The environments are also a good point for the game. The two 'bots end up exploring Earth, the great spaceship 'Axiom' and even space on their adventure, and graphically, Wall-E's journey is bright and colourful, with a nice draw distance and good textures. It's just a shame that the levels tend to be linear with no chance for exploration.

Coupled with the main game is a multiplayer mode (presumably so that parents can blow up their kids.) But again this seems a little odd considering the nature of the movie and game, and watching four Wall-E's with guns trying to kill each other kind of upsets the good-natured mood of the game.

The main flaw however has to be- you guessed it- the length of the game. While I understand it's made for kids, its simplicity and linear nature are not conducive to length, and the handful of pointless unlockable artwork and aesthetic pickups is not enough to warrant another play-through.

Summary

As a family game, I'd say Wall-E pretty much hit's the spot. It's bright, fun and funny and young fans of the movie will love the chance to play as the feckless robot. Just don't expect anything more advanced than a simple platformer that's good for a few days amusement or a little longer if you're introducing your kids to your console at a very early age.

The bottom line
6.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Nice Visuals
  • Excellent characters
  • Good, clean platform fun
  • A good game for the kids

Not so good stuff

  • Too easy
  • Too short
  • Low replay value


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