WALL-E Review (Xbox360)

You have to feel for Heavy Iron Studios, because while their bank balance is bulging, their Ďgaming-soulí has been crushed. As is customary with any AAA film, a botch-job video game accompanies its release. Disney Pixarís latest animated epic, WALL-E is going down a treat in the cinema and rightfully so. Itís a tremendous film that rivals Toy Story in quality and humour. While we hold the film with utmost respect, the video game counterpart is hardly high on our wish list. With childlike naivety, we approached this latest movie-tie-in with cautious optimism. Surely it will try and be unique? It canít be another milking of the preverbal cash cow? Religion asks us to have faith, so why not gaming?

The easiest place to begin is Wall-Eís target demographic. As with every other movie game, the intended player is either seven years old or fifty six. This is a game to ply onto your son in an effort to pass on your gaming heritage. It wonít offend, confuse or cause controversy. Anyone with a serious interest in gaming will simply mock those throwing cash down a metaphorical drain. Published under THQís ĎPlayí label, Wall-E makes no attempt to change anything. Itís not waving its hands about to gain attention. The Gears of War fans will continue fragging over Xbox Live and the World of Warcraft veterans wonít even be aware of what Wall-E is. This is a game for the fans; itís a must that youíve seen the film or itíll spoil your future viewing. Scoff if you must, but Wall-E doesnít have any delusions of self-grandeur.

Simple platforming, on the rails racing sections and supposed exploration are gamingís greatest components watered down. From a hardcore perspective, Wall-E is an introduction to gaming. If there was a boot-camp for new recruits, this is where youíd start. Itís no different than the early Mega Drive movie titles. ĎThe Lion Kingí and ĎAladdiní come to mind. The main difference between classic movie games and modern titles is a fun factor. They were simple, yet hugely addictive. The key factor was that they were fun. Over the years, the gaming scene has changed. Thereís an increased emphasis on complexity and graphical prowess. Sadly, every game attempts to mimic with big boys of gaming and sometimes it just doesnít work which in turn results in a catch-22 situation. You canít create a simple platforming title (with a movie licence) as the appeal isnít there anymore. Wall-E has failed before itís even had a chance to prove itself.

The game follows an expanded version of the filmís plot. Itís not worth spoiling in case youíre going to the cinema to see it. It removes any sense of suspense, intrigue or excitement as youíve already experienced it. The narrative does of course have structure, but it seems out of place. When the details are taken out of context, (removed from the movie theatre) it seems lucid and poorly constructed.

For the uninitiated Wall-E is all about a tiny robot. Far into the future, mankind has abandoned earth. Years of humans polluting the atmosphere, dumping non-biodegradable rubbish and generally being wasteful has taken its toll. The human race has undergone an exodus into space leaving earthís cleanup in the hands of robots, Wall-E units. Unsurprisingly theyíve gradually broken down over time until thereís only one left on earth, the protagonist. The exposure to human artefacts and culture has led to Wall-E developing a personality. Itís not exactly game material, but it does the job. The game tells the story via cut scenes which struggle with the framerate. We played the Xbox 360 version so it could just be a case of attempting to do too much.

The unusual thing is that when you look at the game, it hardly breaks the graphics barrier. The Xbox 360 version does indeed look nice, mimicking the filmís style to a decent standard, but when you take into consideration other games on the market; itís difficult to see why it struggles. The Wall-E and Eve models are rendered to a high level of detail, yet the environments are repetitive and blurry. The textures lack a sense of crispness. Its overall visual performance is bland. You donít sit back and drop your mouth in amazement. It does the job of representing the movie interactively and in reality little else is needed. Itís cruel to criticise Wall-E for poor craftsmanship, but the world of gaming is a harsh place. The sound design is so-so with the sound effects over used and a score that quickly gets on your nerves.

Gameplay is equally simplistic. Chiefly aimed at a young audience, youíre tasked with jumping around levels, throwing trash cubes and collecting objects. The platforming isnít challenging even for youngsters. It usually means avoiding a harmful section of liquid. Landing in it will damage you and eventually kill you if you hang around too long. Any sense of risk is removed by the checkpoint system with respawn points generously interspersed. If you damage your Wall-E you can recharge his health at the solar stations littered around the levels.

Occasionally youíll face an immovable obstacle or puzzle. The solution involves creating the relevant cube of rubbish (of which three can be carried) and using the auto-lock-on to hit a target. The puzzles are blindingly obvious and simple trial and error will get you past any that pose a problem. Thereís your standard cube thatís used to simply hit targets, an electric cube to power up terminals and a heavy cube to weigh down scales. Itís not taxing on the brain as the game rarely even attempts to challenge you.

Occasionally the game spices things up with some fast paced tunnel navigation. When youíre in control of Eve youíll be sent flying down tunnels and asked to hold the fire button to clear the way of potential obstacles. Itís an attempt to add some pace and urgency to a game thatís drearily slow. The gameplay is a rinse and repeat affair. Once youíve learned the basics, Wall-E makes little attempt to deviate from tried and tested game design. Thereís the odd bit of concept art to collect, but little reward for actually doing so. Itís an overused method of elongating a short game.

Itís the same old story; rent Wall-E to keep the kids entertained during half time. Youíll be safe in the knowledge that the bright colours and child-friendly plot will keep them captivated. Thereís no point looking at it from a hardcore perspective, as it was never meant to be. Average in every respect and woefully proud of it. Itís a rent at best, but easily avoidable. Save your money and see the film.

Top Game Moment: Hearing the game chirps Waaaali-E in cute fashion.


By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 07, 2008
Pluck! Looks even worse than I imagined!:(
By Youri (SI Newbie) on Aug 07, 2008
This is an easy and little game. I think this is fine.