Great game for the family

User Rating: 8.5 | Toy Story 3 PS3
Of all the games that we dreamed of playing while growing up, a faithful video game conversion of Toy Story - CGI-quality graphics included - ranked pretty highly. At the time it simply wasn't feasible, and in the sixteen years since attempts at capturing the look, charm and feel of Pixar's animated flick just haven't been as successful as they promised. Don't get us wrong, they were good - the original game offering cutting edge tech for the 16-bit era, and Toy Story 2 being a surprisingly fun PS1 game - but they were lacking that 'Pixar magic' we associate with the films. Until now.

Toy Story 3, then, is the Toy Story game we've always dreamed of, and one that's just as much fun for adults as it is children. Via its superb animation, excellent atmosphere, witty script and fabulous design, Avalanche has managed to jolt Pixar's characters to life on your console and effortlessly capture the core components of the IP. Simply put, it's a Toy Story game that Pixar would be proud

It's a game of two halves, though; one comprised of levels inspired by the film, and the other an open-world quest-driven sandbox mode called 'Toy Box'. The primary Story Mode is fairly typical of a movie game, consisting of a sequence of disparate levels inspired by the films, with Avalanche translating particular scenes into gameplay with much aplomb. The second film's Buzz Lightyear video game, for example, has been turned into a full length level here, effortlessly blending rail shooting with 3D platforming, top-down platforming, side-scrolling, an into-camera chase sequence and a third-person shooter-style boss battle. Others, however, aren't quite so successful, with the mission directly after feeling more of an afterthought as Buzz, Woody and Jessie each take part in timed racing challenges and minigames, while many of the rest often consist of fairly dull gameplay mechanics to pace out the film-inspired scenes.

While the variation is good for a mode you'll likely finish in an afternoon, Story Mode flits between being genuinely exciting and utterly tedious far too often, and you'll wonder why Avalanche opted to take the jack of all trades routes for its core mode rather than focus on one particularly strong area. Two-player support isn't particularly well implemented either, forcing the player to restart the level whenever a second player comes along, rather than include the drop-in/drop-out support we'd have otherwise expected.

It's fairly evident, then, that it's the game's Toy Box mode that's been given most of Avalanche's attention. Toy Box offers a completely different style of gameplay to that presented by the story mode, offering an open world to explore, quests to complete and a town to build. It follows a fairly simple structure - completing missions earns you gold with which to buy new toys, new toys bring new missions, and new missions mean more gold, all the while picking up collectibles to deck out the town and its plastic inhabitants. It's marvellous, feeling almost like a Toy Story-themed Animal Crossing, and proof that movie tie-ins can be good when publishers are prepared to experiment.

Slight technical problems mar the experience; texture pop-in can be fairly obtrusive and there's a slight fuzziness to the whole thing - but you'll be too busy enjoying what the game has to offer to care. In fact, one of our biggest disappointments with the game is Tom Hanks and Tim Allen's decision not to reprise their roles, something highlighted by the relative lack of dialogue uttered by Woody and Buzz, and a tremendous shame considering Avalanche's success in making Toy Story 3 otherwise feel completely in tune with the franchise. And that's ultimately testament to how well Avalanche has pulled it off: if you're a Toy Story fan, Toy Story 3's a must-have