Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Toy Story 3 (XBox)

What Happened:
This is another case of "I saw some youtube videos at work for this game and was intrigued". In this particular case, I saw the first level of Woody riding the horse on rails - which is a mechanic Issam and I have been discussing for a game concept we're working on - so I went "oh! I should see how they handled it" :) To my surprise, I found a whole lot more in this game than I was expecting - particularly out of an animated film license. This is a really cool game for a lot of different reasons.

What I Liked:

Opening sequence! Or rather, I guess most of the whole opening level. The level starts with a cinematic where Woody sees a speeding train and realizes that the orphans that are on it are in danger (handled with a really nice abrupt cut directly to the screaming orphans). For the first part of the level you ride your horse essentially on rails in terms of forward direction - you can move him left or right and jump - this sort of setup allowed for really awesome cinematic events: rock bridges crumbling, Doctor Porkchop harassing you. It's a neat format.

Visuals. Overall, (at least as far as all gameplay is concerned) the visuals are really great. I think they responded to the expectations set by the film well and hit a really high bar for all visuals. Animation was really beautiful as well - Woody moved like Woody. Jessie's victory dance when you complete a mission in particular makes me smile every time I see it.

So much to do! Usually, I totally hate games with the format of "walk around the town, find villagers that need your help, do quests and get money" (which reminds me I still need to post about Animal Crossing) and I sighed a big sigh when I started playing this mode of the game and saw what it was all about - but for some reason, this time it really works for me. The whole hour I played it, I never felt bored or that I was having to do something tedious (except when I couldn't figure out how to paint the house.. see below). I think it's because of a few things: 1) the world is interesting, and you constantly feel as though you are discovering things (like caves and passages and what manage to feel like 'secret areas'). 2) There's always something to do - in addition to discovering, here's a race, there's a mission, you find an army man on top of the roof and there's a minigame about throwing them up in the air and controlling where they land. All of it manages to be fun and exciting, and it's really fascinating.

What I Didn't Like:

What? There are other modes? I played this game for a whole hour, and it wasn't until I quit that I figured out there were other modes that I could go into. I'm hoping that as you play you unlock them... and it actually tells you? Otherwise I think that's very confusing.

UI. A funny thing to pick on, but for all the awesome visuals, the UI seemed pretty tacked on. Also the text was sooooo small, and almost impossible for me to read on my standard def TV. There was no reason for it to be small!

Painting menu? This one's probably my fault for being oblivious, but my instructions for the building painting mission were to 'walk up to a house' to paint it. I finally figured out after 10min that if you stand in a specific area around the front door, you get an option to go into the painting menu. I think this target area could have been much bigger to help unobservant people like me. ;)

How Do I Feel About Continuing?:

I will definitely be looking at this game more because of what I said above - for some reason, they really nailed (at least for me) the idea of wandering around a town and helping out and having it be really fun. I want to study this more, and see what I can learn from it. Also - it's just fun, so I sort of just want to play it for that reason too. ;)

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