A few weeks before writing this review I reviewed Kung Fu Panda, which renewed my confidence in movie-to-game conversions despite its few flaws. Unfortunately, the faith didn’t last long as I played through Wall-E. Another movie-based game to be released on consoles this summer and another poor movie-to-game tie-in.
Being based on the movie, the story had great potential for a game and thankfully it sticks to the plot well: Mankind has left Earth and somebody forgot to turn off the last robot, Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class - or WALL-E for short. After hundreds of years of loneliness, doing what he was built for, WALL-E meets a search robot called EVE, who he instantly falls in love with. Once EVE retrieves the plant life she was after, she leaves WALL-E; but our little hero doesn’t give up hope as he jumps onto the spaceship which has taken EVE away.
Both WALL-E and EVE are playable characters within the game, though there are major differences between the two. As WALL-E, the camera angle is horrible. I found it a constant struggle battling with the camera to see where I was going at times, and the camera angle resulted in the majority of my deaths during the game, especially during puzzles. One of the plus points of controlling WALL-E is his ability to morph into a box, which comes in useful for a lot of the challenges throughout the game.
Also, you don’t seem to be doing much as WALL-E; following straight paths, avoiding obstacles and hazards, finding items for the vending machines and building cubes. Fair enough WALL-E’s been doing it for a hundred years, but it’s not really my idea of fun, my idea of fun is more like playing with EVE (whatever floats your boat Dave - Ed).
As EVE, the gameplay is a huge improvement on WALL-E. You have almost total freedom flying around, shooting at enemies and scanning various objects which are more challenging to find. Another advantage of using EVE is the timed levels in which you have to reach the checkpoint within the time limit, otherwise you fail the challenge.
The major flaw with WALL-E is the bugs, and I’m not talking about the cockroach. I found myself many-a-time getting frustrated at simple obstacles such as a trampoline bounce, where I’d always end up too far or not far enough from the platform – and the magnetic walls - in which I suddenly felt myself flying off in random directions and dieing.
I wouldn’t normally moan about loading screens, but when it’s the same bright red and blue BnL (Buy-N-Large) logo moving in different patterns, you really have to question the developers. Not only does the logo appear on loading screens, but it also appears throughout the game at every save point. Surely something better looking could have been used rather than the BnL logo?
Throughout the game, players are expected to collect numerous items including radios, suitcases, tokens, souvenirs and sketchbooks. Quite cleverly the souvenirs are of Toy Story characters (such as Buzz Lightyear and Woody), though the thrill of unlocking content isn’t exciting, players will find themselves unlocking concept art, multiplayer levels and secret areas every few minutes. It doesn’t help that the unlocked content itself is boring to look at, watch and the multiplayer levels and secret areas aren’t even fun to play.
Quite surprisingly, WALL-E contains multiplayer and a few co-op levels. However, (and you probably guessed it) they’re dreadful and, dare I say it, pointless. Capturing rings, gunning your opponents down and keeping hold of a cube for as long as possible will not appeal to the average gamer. Unsurprisingly, the whole multiplayer side of WALL-E can only be played locally and it’s not exactly a game you’d invite your friends over for.
The control system is probably one of the better aspects of WALL-E. Players can easily enter precision mode as WALL-E or EVE, (which comes in very handy as free-aim doesn't seem to work well unless the enemy is standing still) and the simple car-like controls for EVE are really easy to get used to, despite the game’s rather weak tutorials.
Visually, the game is very weak and if I’m totally honest, worse than some of the Xbox Live Arcade titles available. The textures look awful and the constantly dropping framerate doesn’t make it any better. WALL-E really does feel like a port from a last-generation console.
The audio to the introduction to WALL-E is very nice and a welcome addition to the game, but soon it becomes very repetitive and soon becomes clear there’s a certain lack of audio within the game. Apart from the sound of WALL-E making trash cubes, an alien sounding happy and the odd background noises, there really isn’t much. Even cut-scenes only contain one or two words until later in the game, when humans are introduced.
Despite all of WALL-E’s flaws, there was one feature I quite liked. The length of the game is just about right, though I felt it extends due to the amount of deaths caused by the game’s camera angle problems. To complete the full nine levels, it will take around seven to eight hours and possibly another hour to collect all the items and the remainder of the achievements.
Most movie-to-game conversions are an achievement addict’s dream and WALL-E is no exception. The full 1000 GamerScore is more-or-less awarded for collecting everything within the game and not getting ‘scrapped’ on every level.
Whilst WALL-E might be the most adorable robot you’ll ever see, the game certainly isn’t. The game feels rushed and is a very poor use of the license. It lacks simple elements every game should have, such as a non-flawed camera, decent graphics and a fun side. WALL-E is definitely one to rent if you’re interested as there isn’t much in the way of replayability after finishing the story mode.