Disney Pixar’s Up is one of the most talked about films of the year after its success at the U.S. box office back in May. Now that the film has floated its way over to Europe, the accompanying video game has been released.
For those who have yet to see the film, the storyline consists of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen following his childhood dream of becoming an adventurer by attaching hundreds upon hundreds of balloons to his house so that he can guide it to Paradise Falls. Carl is joined on his adventure by Russell, an eight year old Wilderness Explorer who is on the verge of obtaining the “Assisting the Elderly” badge, and Dug, a dog with the ability to talk. The trio embark on their adventure at Paradise Falls, where they come across some not-so-friendly characters. Unfortunately players of the game would have very little knowledge of this without first viewing the film.
The main problem with Up: The Video Game is the major differences between the video game’s narrative in comparison to the movie. Having seen the film prior to playing the game, it felt awkward taking control of Dug in aerial dog flight combat at such an early stage, whereas a gentler introduction was expected. On top of that, there are some pretty drastic changes to the storyline throughout. There’s only so far movie-game developers can go in altering a storyline and, in this case, it appears they’ve gone a little too far with this one.
The game’s cutscenes are disguised as black and white television sequences titled: ‘Spotlight on Adventure,’ consisting of a short summary of the completed level before the next level is introduced. Whilst this was a particular interesting idea, the execution isn’t the most impressive with the cinematics failing to provide any useful information. Nevertheless, the gameplay is where Up becomes a surprise hit.
Each of the game’s characters has unique abilities which must be used in order to progress over obstacles such as tight ledges and vines. At times, players are required to use teamwork that usually consists of hoisting the other character onto higher ground by using rope (Russell) or a walker (Carl) and Kevin, a rare colourful bird, is often on hand (or should that be claw) to give Russell the extra boost he needs to reach higher and further places.
Similarly to the numerous LEGO titles, the game features a surprisingly good drop-in drop-out co-operative system. Another local player can join the current game by simply pressing the start button and taking control of Russell at any point. If they feel the need to drop out, the process takes a matter of seconds, with the player once again pressing the start button; it really is that simple and with players being forced into working together, there is a real sense of co-operative play about it.
However, movie-based titles have never been renowned for their multiplayer game modes and Up is no exception. The multiplayer sees players taking to the skies with the game’s characters as they play one of three modes: Attack, Pop and Team, neither of which is particularly entertaining. With no Xbox Live play, the multiplayer is limited to four players on the one console and Up: The Video Game isn’t necessarily a title you would get your friends round to play…
Other than the game’s short story mode (that doesn’t have enough life for a second playthrough) and poor multiplayer, the game doesn’t provide much else in terms of playable content. Whilst there are bonus features to view, they aren’t particularly interesting and mostly consist of the story mode cutscenes.
Graphically, the game isn’t particularly impressive. Whilst everything is clearly identifiable, nothing is to a predominantly good standard, even in glorious high definition. Alas, the game’s audio is to a high-quality, using a number of the voice actors from the film, alongside some solid sound effects.
Despite its flaws, Up: The Video Game is one of the better attempts at enhancing the movie experience through video games. The combination of enjoyable gameplay and audio overcomes the short, problematic story mode, though isn’t enough to secure the interest of the more mature gamer.