WALL-E Review

Wall-E is overflowing with charm, but the simple gameplay makes the experience fall flat.

by

The main reason Pixar movies are so revered is that they are able to appeal to both adults and children at the same time. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the games based on these movies. Wall-E follows in the path of many cartoon adaptations before it--taking the wholesome aesthetic and crafting a trivial game around it while ignoring a large part of the film's audience in the process. The mechanics in Wall-E are accessible enough that children eager to spend more time with the lovable robot will find an inviting world, but the end result is too short and predictable to provide value for any platforming veterans.

The cutscenes add some life to these electric beings.

The story in Wall-E is about friendship and flowers. Like in the movie, you start off as a lone robot on a dirty planet, left to clean up the trash of thoughtless generations after the humans bolted for cleaner pastures. The first level is quiet and desolate. It's not often that platformers present a world without any enemies in sight, but the early parts of Wall-E exist to highlight his severe loneliness--and that weight comes across quite powerfully. Wall-E eventually meets up with a flying robot named Eve and gets to experience space travel firsthand. The cutscenes are well done, telling most of the tale through gestures and robot groans that give a lot of personality to the mechanical beings. Though the cinematics were not taken directly from the film, they are still carefully crafted to express the subtleties of Wall-E and Eve's wide range of emotions. The environments are inviting and eye-pleasing, though they are sometimes too sparse, especially in the space station levels.

The quiet energy of the first few levels doesn't lead to action packed gameplay, but it still provides a few thrills. Your time on Earth is spent navigating through elaborate obstacle courses. As Wall-E, you can jump and make tiny cubes of trash that you can hurl at targets. There is a variety of different garbage types--heavy, magnetic, and explosive--but the puzzle solving is extremely light. The key is always next to the locked door, so navigating this filthy world is very straightforward. The platforming elements are a little more complex, forcing you to climb walls vertically and even upside down with your magnetic bottom, but the paths are always linear so any sort of directional acumen is left by the wayside.

The Eve sections follow the accessible path displayed in the Wall-E portions, but they spice up the action a bit. Eve is able to fly around the environment at will, which turns out to be surprisingly fun. There are two types of flying sections: open air and tunnel races. In the open air, you have to search for plant life and other collectables hidden on the surface. The freedom of flight works well here because the controls are so responsive. It's easy to fly through pipes and under bridges, but the lack of imagination in these objectives is disappointing. The levels are ultrastreamlined so it removes any challenge from the scavenger hunts and the space is too confined to make racing interesting for long. It's a shame the developers couldn't have expanded on this section because the act of flight is really well done.

The shooting sections make up the final gameplay type, which occur late in the game. Once in the spaceship, you have to fight your way through a small army of robots. The hectic pace and destructive violence seems out of place here compared to the rest of the game. You can pull the camera in over your shoulder and mow down robots with quick aiming, or you can let the game auto-target anyone who walks in front of you. The lock-on is too responsive, making quick work of your enemies before you have time to worry about your health dropping. The sheer number of foes you'll have to face here make these sections too long and repetitive. When the simple joy of platforming and flying is replaced by nonstop shooting, the game loses much of its charm.

Flying around as Eve is freeing.

There are a number of movie related unlockables, but the rewards aren't compelling enough to demand a second play-through. The multiplayer mode is only good for a quick taste before it loses its appeal. There is just something unsettling about taking part in a deathmatch with four happy Wall-Es wheeling around with laser guns. The main adventure can be finished in less than 10 hours, and after you play through the story once, there just isn't much reason to go back again.

The presentation is the only part of Wall-E that separates it from the glut of other platformers out there. The different gameplay mechanics offered by Eve and Wall-E provide some variety in this adventure, but the ideas are never fully fleshed out. This is still a fun game for anyone anxious to spend more time with the garbage-making robot, but there isn't enough depth or replay value to raise this above similar movie-licensed offerings.

The Good
Inviting presentation
Well-constructed cutscenes
Flying sections are fun
The Bad
Gameplay is too simple
Shooting sections seem out of place
Worthless multiplayer
Unlockables aren't exciting
6
Fair
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WALL-E

  • PC
  • PlayStation 2
  • PlayStation 3
  • PSP
  • + 4 more
  • Wii
  • DS
  • Macintosh
  • Xbox 360
Based on the Pixar movie, this game puts you in the the treads of WALL-E and EVE as they adventure across the galaxy.
ESRB
Everyone
All Platforms
Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence
Check out even more info at the WALL-E Wiki on Giantbomb.com