Every once in a while a game comes along that completely redefines its particular genre. Toy Story 3 is that game for licensed family games. Developer Avalanche Software has accomplished this by creating a world that allows players to enjoy their experience at their own leisure, while also retaining a structure.
There are basically two game modes found within the game, and both of them excel at creating a compelling experience. It is also a bonus that you can enjoy the activities regardless of your age. Parents will enjoy playing the game with their kids, and younger gamers will not get frustrated with it thanks to great checkpoints and a tailoring system that offers plenty of hints and helpful game changes.
Like I mentioned Toy Story 3 is broken down into two different modes. The first of course is the main story mode that follows the toys’ adventure to get Andy to play with them one last time before he goes to college. It is incredible to see just how well Avalanche has modeled the game to look like the movies; playing it in high-definition on the newer consoles drives the point home even further. It is also great to hear a majority of the cast reprising their roles in the game, though a lack of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen is disappointing. Still the fill-ins do an outstanding job.
The story mode runs the gamut of various game styles ranging from vehicle segments, straight up action and platforming and even some on-rails shooting. I love some of the themes of these levels. One that really sticks out was the witch level in Bonnie’s room where Woody must traverse the area while it slowly fills up with coffee. Then once you ascend to the top you have to grab batteries while sliding on rails ala Ratchet and Clank. The variety in the levels is fantastic with some of them rivaling even some of the more distinguished platformers.
The second mode is dubbed Toy Box and delivers on its namesake ten-fold. Toy Box follows the popularized sandbox structure and allows the player to perform various tasks and collect numerous items at their leisure. I literally spent two hours here the first time it was introduced because of the addictive nature. The devs have nailed the “just one more” mentality that make successful sandbox games so popular.
The activities range from collecting new hair pieces for your townsfolk, to changing bugs back into humans and a plethora of other standard open-world actions. The genius here is that each one is small enough to complete quickly, but fun enough to make you want to keep playing. I love the challenge list that keeps track of actions like painting buildings and collecting items. There is just so much to do in Toy Box mode it definitely is hard to put down.
Another huge bonus for Toy Box mode is the ability to hop into two-player co-op and wreak havoc together. This is great when parents want to play with their kids to help them do some more of the complicated activities. The best part is that both players can run off and do their own thing without affecting the other player. This mode could easily eat up a large chunk of your time and serves as a great place to explore your imagination with the game. It is hard not to have a smile on your face as you dress up the townspeople and create off-colored buildings all while playing some truly addictive missions.
One of the areas that Avalanche has nailed with Toy Story 3 is the presentation. The game is presented in the same vibrant color palette that the movies are known for. The level design is top-notch and the character animations are absolutely stellar. Nearly everything about the game looks phenomenal in glorious HD. The voice work is also outstanding. As I mentioned a lot of the actors have reprised their roles from the movie except in the case of Buzz and Woody. The people handling those two though sound so close you have to search IMDB to know the difference. The only sore spot is the repetitive music. While I love the main theme, I did get rather tired of hearing it for the 100th time.
Toy Story 3 is a marvelous achievement in the world of licensed family games. I found myself more addicted to it than some of the more mainstream titles released lately. It appeals to anyone who enjoys solid gameplay, and especially those that have a love for Pixar’s trilogy. If you want to go to infinity and beyond then look no further as Avalanche Software has replicated the Toy Story experience better than anyone before it. This is one licensed game I am proud to have in my collection.
Review copy provided by publisher.