Kart-racing games and Disney-licensed characters seem to go hand in hand. Activision's Toy Story Racer is no exception to the rule. After taking a few laps in a nearly complete version of the game, we were pleased to find a few subtle differences from other kart-racing games, such as the addition of a destruction derby racing mode, which could help make Toy Story Racer a good family-oriented gaming experience.
Toy Story Racer has all your favorite Toy Story personalities. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bo Peep, and RC are playable characters from the beginning, and as you progress in the game, additional characters can be unlocked. Each character races through the game on various motorized toys. The game sports 19 levels, each focusing on familiar scenes from the two movies. To start, you have the option of choosing from the previously stated four characters, and each has a total of two available races. Upon successfully completing each race, you are rewarded with a green army-man toy, which is your key to progressing in the game. You'll soon find that you'll need more than one character to play through the game, as future races require you to have more army men than you can gather with just one character. To keep the gameplay interesting, this game does not rely on just single races. It also features destruction derby-like levels, where the last toy standing wins, and tournament challenges, in which the highest-point winner walks away with the green army man.
As you might expect, Toy Story Racer uses a tried-and-true gameplay mechanic similar to that of many kart-racing games, featuring simple controls so gamers of all ages can easily pick up and play the game. However, the analog control is overly sensitive, so you might find yourself switching back to the directional pad after a few races.
Graphically, you will find yourself at home with the polygonal renderings of your favorite Toy Story characters, and though they are not as spectacular as they are on the big screen, the PlayStation seems to do them justice. The 3D environments keep pace with the races for the most part, although clipping and pop-up are present at times.
The game does not feature any licensed songs from the movie, but the overall feel of the music is in the same vein as Randy Newman's original orchestral score for the films. While racing, you can also expect to hear feedback in the form of familiar quotes from the toys you're racing against, as is the case with most kart-racing games. The voice acting is not from the movie either, but it's very similar.
In all, Toy Story Racer looks like a promising gaming experience for the family. The gameplay is fun, and there are lots of challenges to complete. Toy Story Racer should hit store shelves in March, so check back with GameSpot for a full review.