Toy Story 3 Review

Lee Abrahams

Toy Story is a franchise that needs no real introduction, as the films have delighted kids for years now and even kept grumbling adults quiet too – it's that rare breed of animation that can appease both. With a mix of charm, humour and ridiculousness on offer, it seems obvious that a strong game should have been in the offing and yet it has never really emerged, so naturally with Toy Story 3 and current generation technology, we hope for the best, but honestly, we expect the usual cash-in. Here though, we have a title that stays true to the series while also being genuinely fun to play, especially for the younger generation. Result!

Buzz isn't just an astronaut, he's a world class driver as well.

Toy Story 3 - the game! - is separated into two different modes via a neat game board interface (which you can also amusingly mess with) and also includes a number of attainable features such as figures and movies that you unlock as you progress. The first port of call will undoubtedly be the story mode, seeing as you're pretty much thrust into the action straight away. Here you will take control of Woody, Jesse and Buzz as you recreate scenes from all three films and a few new ones too; all under the pretense of master storyteller, Ham, describing how the toy's escapades have unfolded. The graphics are true to the films, if not a little rough around the edges when it comes to some drab backdrops, and the voice work is decent, despite not being entirely populated by all the stars you know and love from the film - disappointingly, no Tom Hanks or Tim Allen.

The gameplay in itself is fairly straight forward and each of the toys have their own unique skills to call on. Most of Toy Story 3's gameplay is general platforming, but there are a number of unique twists and turns along the way, including a fun stealth level, a mad dash from a caffeinated coffee style death and an all-out muffin brawl – you heard me. The levels are entertaining, but also rather on the short side, in fact, even a novice will get through them all in a couple of hours with very little effort. The quality and variety is top notch though, so you will have plenty of fun while they last. If all else fails, you can also scout around for collectables which help towards achievements and the Toy Box mode. A fleeting story, but not really enough to carry the whole game... thank goodness for the real draw...

America's latest odd couple.

TOY BOX MODE!!!! Put simply, Toy Box mode is a great idea and probably the real selling point of the game if truth be told. This mode is a mix of platforming, mini-games, missions and open-world shenanigans that really makes the overall package shine. The idea is to create your very own toy town and populate it with a bunch of cute little figures. The rest of the film cast also pops up to provide you with missions and advice; the more tasks you complete then the more buildings and characters become available, and the more loot you have to buy said items. You can also unlock new areas such as a Spooky House or Zurg’s Spaceport, which have their own unique missions and special items to boot.

The whole area is also littered with collectables which can provide new outfits and objects for your townsfolk, although finding them all can turn into a bit of a chore too. While the missions do try to mix up the variety, with a nice bit of car bowling or criminal chasing being particular highlights, there does tend to be quite a lot of repetition too. Far too many missions rely on the formula of ‘go here’ or ‘find this’ and that soon wears a bit thin, no matter what age you are. The fun Pictogram missions, that require you to create a bunch of outlandish characters and situations, are shackled too until you have found all of the outfits and unlocked all the areas, which is a shame. Still, with a stunt track, dragon racing, a haunted house and a wealth of customisation options for you folk and buildings, you will struggle to get bored and can happily waste away the hours trying to accomplish all of the Gold Star tasks. However, it is worth noting that the open-world nature of this mode makes for some peculiar glitches as characters can often get stuck in walls, cars flip over on straights or the camera gets bogged down on the scenery. Nothing overly game breaking, but annoying nonetheless.

Spaceships, race cars and now horses! Is there anything Buzz can't ride?

The achievements are nicely spread between the story mode and the Toy Box mode, with roughly half allocated for each. Most of your time on both will be probably spent hunting for collectables which soon becomes a bit of a chore. At least you will be rewarded with a hefty chunk of points for your efforts though, but compared to that, snagging all of the Gold Stars will prove to be a much lengthier pastime. These require you to fulfil certain goals in Toy Box mode which range from the simple, to the bizarre, with more collecting and the lengthy Pictogram missions taking the longest. It is a very straightforward thousand though if you have the time and patience to persevere.

Toy Story 3 is worth playing for the Toy Box mode alone, as it has a wealth of things to see and do. The story is fun, but far too short though, but it would make ideal fodder for the younger gamers out there. On the whole, Toy Story 3 is a surprisingly solid effort, although it'll probably only hold your attention for as long as you can stomach the overly simplistic missions and plethora of collectables. Stilll, if every movie tie-in made this much effort to shine, then we would have far more quality titles to introduce our kids to, which in turn would bring about the end of war as we know it and mark the beginning of true world peace. Or something like that.

Solid, although it is clear that not all of the actual voice talent is on board. The background music is pretty much pulled straight from the films too, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on how much you like Randy Newman.

The main characters look and act just as you would expect them to, but some of the backdrops and supporting cast leave a bit to be desired. There are also a few glitches here and there, especially when driving, which can make things all the more frustrating.

Simple to pick up and play, however, at times the camera is a nightmare to control, as are some of the vehicles. It would have been nice to have a longer story mode too, although at least the missions are nicely varied.

A good adaptation of the series and one that stays faithful throughout, with each character having their own part to play and the gameplay being bolstered superbly by the imaginative Toy Box mode.

A decent list, with points split equally between story mode and Woody’s Round Up, but most of it boils down to simple missions and collecting which soon gets old.

A solid family title and one that should provide hours of fun. There's plenty of variety here, but a bit too much in the way of collectable goodies if you want to see it all, and as you'd expect, finding them all soon gets repetitive. That, and the all too brief story levels aside, Toy Story 3 is otherwise a surprisingly strong package that will offer something for the younger and older generations alike.

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