THQ and Heavy Iron have gotten the process of making games based on Pixar movies down to a science these days. The upcoming Wall-E, based on the forthcoming film of the same name, offers a mix of gameplay based directly on the film and also inspired by it. We had the chance to take the Xbox 360 and Wii versions of the game--two of the seven platforms the game is set to be released on--for a spin, and it's looking like a solid-enough companion piece to the film.
We got a chance to check out a sampling of levels in both games, which gave us a feel for what to expect from the platformer. We saw three levels on the Xbox 360: Welcome to Earth, Directive, and the Sandstorm. Welcome to Earth is the game's first level and finds you controlling Wall-E as he goes about his business of cleaning up the earth, which humans have abandoned some 700 years in the future. The level is set in and through the ruins of a city, in which the diminutive robot zips around while solving assorted puzzles that require you to interact with the environment. Wall-E's abilities are few but effective. The tiny robot can jump, compact himself into a mobile cube, repair machines (with the right items), and most importantly, create cubes of debris that he can throw. His ability to make and throw cubes is key to the Wall-E sequences in the game, and you'll be able to make five different kinds of cubes that are essential for solving puzzles.
The second level we saw, titled Directive, offered a change of pace by putting you in control of Eve, Wall-E's love interest. The sleek iPod-looking bot can fly and comes packing a blaster, which makes for much more action-oriented gameplay. This level is still set on earth and has you zipping around, exploring and destroying specific objects. One of the key elements in your mission is Eve's special power-surge ability, which you'll need to take out specific machines.
The third level, the Sandstorm, had you juggling both Wall-E and Eve at the same time as they travel through desert ruins. Wall-E is your main character, but you'll be able to tap Eve to shoot at objects and help fly Wall-E over large gaps. You'll need to make effective use of each bot's unique abilities to proceed through the level's various puzzles.
In addition to the single-player game, Wall-E will feature a multiplayer mode for two to four players. The game types will range from rail-shooting competitions to scrap matches that will have you and your friends controlling laser-packing Wall-E's. In addition to those modes, the Wii game will feature a number of different, exclusive multiplayer levels that actually support the Zapper. We tried our hand at one, which was a Time Crisis/House of the Dead-style rail shooter. One of the twists to the level is that, when you're playing with friends, everyone is competing for the same targets, so whoever is quickest on the draw will win.
Control in the game is pretty standard on the 360. You'll use the analog sticks to move and adjust the camera, and you'll trigger Wall-E and Eve's other abilities with the buttons and triggers. The Wii game mixes the remote and analog stick with some gesturing to make things a little more tactile. So you'll swipe the remote from left to right to pick up objects, and use an onscreen cursor to aim. Waving the Nunchuk will throw your cube at your target.
The visuals in the 360 and Wii games featured the same basic look, although the 360 obviously had the significant edge in resolution and overall clarity. The environments we saw were expansive.
Based on what we played, Wall-E should make for the perfect game to toss at kids after they've seen the movie. The Wii game's exclusive multiplayer games seem as if they might give it the edge in appeal. Veteran players will likely breeze through the simple play mechanics, no doubt in search of some easy achievement points. All told, it looks as if Wall-E has the makings to be a solid companion to the movie when it ships this summer.