WALL-E Xbox 360
Published by: THQ
Developed by: Heavy Iron Studios
Release Date: Out Now
As much as games based on movies are criticised, there can be no denying that they sell well. At the time of writing WALL-E is sitting nicely in second place in the UK sales charts. I think the problem is that we expect the games to be good games in their own right and this rarely happens. Most of them rely on you having enjoyed the movie and thus your affection for the film will supposedly allow you to forgive what, in many cases, is a mediocre gaming experience. To some extent WALL-E is guilty of this. Had the game not been based on the movie it's almost a certainty that few would have given it a second look but with the charm and appeal of the movie behind it, it's destined to do well.
If you've seen the movie you'll know what storyline is all about (so feel free to skip this paragraph). The story is set in the 28th Century and Earth has long been abandoned by humanity after it has effectively been turned into one large, polluted rubbish dump. All that now remains on planet Earth is a solitary WALL-E (who is effectively a robot who attempts to turn all the junk into cubes and sort it in various ways). At the beginning of the game all WALL-E has for company is a cockroach until another robot, named EVE, lands on the planet. EVE has been sent by the humans to see if Earth is safe to return to. WALL-E takes a shine to EVE and manages to follow 'her' into space as she heads back to report her findings to the humans.
You'll initially control the lonely WALL-E and you'll begin by following a cockroach around a junkyard and collecting an assortment of cubes to throw at specific targets. At this point the game is essentially a standard platform game albeit with the addition of a few interesting twists such as having to use various types of cubes and revolving platforms to solve puzzles and find secret areas. When you gain control of EVE you're free to fly around, hunt for items and compete in obstacle course style challenges. There are moments when WALL-E and EVE are together and here you can use EVE's ability to pick up WALL-E and carry him to other locations which is rather helpful. The game also has its fair share of moments when you have to shoot at wave after wave of enemies and it's not only tedious but it also feels wildly out of place with the more sedate elements found elsewhere in the game.
There are other disappointing aspects of the game aside from the poor shooting sections. The camera can be maddening at times as there are times when it's impossible to get an ideal view of the action. There are clipping issues too, which are very unsightly. I've also managed to get EVE stuck a few times during the time limited challenges and have had to sit there and watch whilst all of her health depletes. It's easy to hit invisible barriers whilst controlling EVE and you don't have any kind of mini-map/radar to help you navigate the area you're in. The game is far too repetitive, especially when controlling WALL-E, and after only a few hours you'll already feel as though you've done the same things over and over again. Once you are a few hours into the game you'll have played a fair portion of the game. It's possible to finish the game in around eight hours and whilst there are a variety of items to collect which will enable you to unlock cheats, images and videos, as well as a collection of four-player local multiplayer modes, it's not a game that's going to be played much once you've played through it once.
WALL-E has been released on a variety of platforms and it shows. The game doesn't take advantage of the graphical horsepower of the Xbox 360 and even on a HD display, it looks little better than a PlayStation 2 game running at a higher resolution. As we've already mentioned, there are times when the camera can be irritating, especially when controlling EVE and it does go nuts on occasion when you hit one of the invisible barriers that prevent you from fully exploring the environment. The 360 version suffers from mild screen tearing which is disappointing, although it's never much of a problem. At least the game's cutscenes have been well done and are enjoyable to watch.
At first I was disappointed to find that WALL-E didn't have the option to enable subtitles. Thankfully this isn't as big a problem as you might think. WALL-E and EVE communicate with gestures more than anything else. Yes it's a shame that their computerized noises aren't captioned but it certainly doesn't cause any problems. There is speech in the game that isn't subtitled however but thankfully it's not that important. For instance, you'll come across various BnL vending machines and adverts, all of which have verbal only advertising messages and none of these are subtitled. All tutorial information is displayed in text. All objectives are shown in text and can be recalled by pressing the start button and selecting Level Goals from the menu. At several places in the game you'll have a time limit to consider and thankfully a countdown is shown onscreen, so you'll always be aware of how much time is left.
In essence then WALL-E is a mediocre game that relies heavily on the movie's charm. Whilst this is disappointing it hardly comes as a surprise. Fans of the movie that are looking for something more will buy the game without caring about the quality of it. It's not a bad game and I'm sure fans of the movie will find some enjoyment here. I daresay most who will want the game will be younger children and there's probably enough here to satisfy those who aren't going to be irritated by the games shortcomings. Some things in WALL-E have been done well but there are more than a few things that haven't and as such it's a game that only the most devoted WALL-E fans will truly appreciate.