Pixar's films touch on themes so universal and immediate that it is possible for both adults and children to be sucked into their imaginative worlds. Unfortunately, most of the games based on these popular properties have been unable to replicate this appeal, veering too far to the simple side of things to give veteran players a worthwhile experience. Toy Story 3 does little to buck this trend, but it does a fine job of providing an entertaining and varied experience for younger players eager to spend more time with their favorite characters. The vast array of different activities ensures there is always something new to conquer, and the wealth of missions keeps the good times flowing for many hours. The troublesome controls during certain segments get in the way of the carefree fun, but the colorful visuals and bountiful rewards make this an easy game to stick with.
6265268Buzz finally has a reason to wear his helmet.None
Toy Story 3 doesn't rigidly follow the narrative of the movie. Rather, the story portion is a virtual tour of many of the set pieces found in the upcoming movie and the overarching fiction. There is still a story tying all of these events together, but it mostly exists to provide the occasional chuckle. While that may be disappointing for anyone eager to play through the silver-screen adventure, what this approach offers is a varied experience that deftly introduces new gameplay mechanics in every stage. The core of Toy Story 3 is platforming, but there is a lot more to do than just run and jump. Buzz Lightyear leaps between crumbling asteroids in outer space while shooting down robots with his laser; Woody chases down a train while riding his trusty steed, Bullseye; and Jessie helps free Hamm from a garbage conveyor belt. Not all of the levels are quite so fun, though. A nighttime escape from a daycare center focuses on stealthily slinking past a roving patrol of light-bearing toys, but being spotted and having to restart because the controls and camera wouldn't cooperate is aggravating. However, even with the occasional stumble, the variety keeps things fresh throughout.
Unfortunately, there may be a bit too much variety, because none of the sections are particularly refined. Controls are a problem throughout the entire game, and though they never keep you from advancing, they will lead to your failure more than a few times. Context-sensitive commands are the biggest offenders. You can push a button to initiate a lasso move as Woody when you're close to specific objects, but it doesn't always work when you need it to, which can be maddening when you fall off a platform and have to start a sequence all over again. Characters also don't always latch on to ledges or perform wall-jumps when they should, and your auto-aim frequently locks on to the wrong targets. Vehicles are also troublesome. Cars handle way too loosely, making it easy to spin the wrong way or land on the roof like a turtle stuck on its back. These quirks crop up sporadically throughout the adventure and lead to a number of frustrating moments.
The eight levels of the story take only a few hours to play through, but there is a lot more content in the Toy Box mode. This is an open-world adventure that allows you to take on missions from various characters and customize a town to your liking. Missions have you doing all sorts of different activities: tossing farm animals down a well to earn a special gold star; throwing dynamite at a mountain to carve your favorite characters' faces in the rock; or chucking army men off of roofs to get them to parachute onto a target. There are races to take part in (of both the car and the horse variety), still pictures to re-create, and mayoral elections to rig. These bite-size challenges can be completed in just a few minutes, letting you quickly move on to a new activity if you aren't having much fun capturing criminals or rescuing aliens. None of these activities are deep, but there are so many on offer that it's easy to lose hours trying to make every citizen happy.