It always pains me to watch an amazing movie like WALL-E and then subject myself to playing its videogame counterpart, only to be absolutely unimpressed. Truth be told, I actually played WALL-E days before seeing the movie, and I found it to be no different than other movie-to-game adaptations. The biggest problem with these movie-based games is that they're developed on a very, very constricted timeline, and so developers never have enough time to create a proper experience. WALL-E is no different, as the game does nothing to make you feel like you're a part of the movie, not even the least bit.
The story of WALL-E revolves around the little robot that was left on an abandoned Earth. Due to hazardous conditions, the Earth we live on today is evacuated by everyone, and instead the human race settles on floating mega-ships in outerspace that can house hundreds of thousands. WALL-E is a waste management robot, as his name is actually an acronym for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class. As the humans fled Earth, everything was shutdown, except for WALL-E, who managed to stay active. All alone on the Earth for hundreds of years, WALL-E develops a 'glitch' of sorts - a personality. He discovers that there is more to life than being a mindless drone, and love is his new directive.
All of that is cute and all, but don't expect those kinds of details from the game. The presentation of the game is loosely, and poorly based on the movie, as some of the most pivotal and thought provoking scenes during the beginning of the movie don't appear in the game, and I'll refrain from spoiling which ones. The bottom line with the WALL-E game is that it's a quick rush job using the most basic videogame formula of 'do this, do that, go to the next stage.'
There are two playable characters in the game, WALL-E and his crush EVE. EVE's directive is to see if Earth was livable again. When she finds out that WALL-E had unknowingly stumbled upon the answer, she returns back to where she came from, and so WALL-E tags along, following her every where she goes. When paired up, the duo can work together, as EVE can carry WALL-E over certain obstacles in the way. EVE has the ability to fly and shoot blasts from her weapon, in addition to other enhanced abilities. WALL-E can perform jumps, compact trash and use it as projectiles, in addition to earning a laser gun. The trash WALL-E compacts also boasts different effects and uses, such as acting like a repellent or refilling the energy of a deactivated machine.
In addition to following the storyline of the movie, you'll also embark on new quests and environments specifically created for the game. The adventure consists of 10 worlds in total, and surprisingly each area doesn't last 15 minutes, which is nice. Unfortunately, the game's length isn't enough to save it; the intro level is extremely boring, as it's nothing but puzzle solving, with absolutely no action, and boring objectives. The game's camera is too twitchy and tends to cause motion sickness often, as well. Additionally, once your done with the main game, there isn't much left to care about; there is no online component as multiplayer is strictly offline.
Visually, WALL-E is not a very pretty sight. Practically everything about the game is well below mediocrity, and when you're developing a game based on a piece of cinema that's a visual tour de force, you'd damn well better put some effort into the visuals. Games like Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted, and Ratchet and Clank have shown us that visuals of Pixar-esque quality are achievable this generation. I'm not saying that WALL-E's game could look just as good as it does the movie, but there's no denying that the game could certainly look a ton better.
The textures are horrible, this is especially apparent in the first stage, as everything looks washed out - I've seen better textures in PlayStation 2 games, to be honest. Special effects such as sandstorms or laser shots are amateur to the point where it's obvious that the effort here is low. The rush job becomes even more obvious when you notice how grainy and poorly compressed the cutscenes are. Why are there compression issues with the cutscenes? This is a Blu-Ray disc, that means 40GB of storage space! It seems like Heavy Iron Studios was too lazy to even bother giving the PS3 version proper quality cutscenes. Shame.
The audio isn't terrible, as the soundtrack is actually somewhat decent and cheerful. The song "Out There", from the musical *Hello, Dolly* opens up the game, just as it does the movie. Beyond that, there isn't much else. Voice acting is close to none, and not even Fred Willard makes an appearance. Furthermore, the sound effects are as bland as the special effects they're supposed to represent.
I full-well realize that WALL-E is aimed at kids. But at the same time, I full-well realize that kids aren't as oblivious as they seem. At age 10, I knew the difference between a crappy game and a good one, and I'm sure that today's kids do too. You must also consider that there are much better games out there for children, such as Ratchet and Clank Future, or even Kung Fu Panda (an example of a good movie-based game). WALL-E is a boring game with sub-par gameplay, poor replay value, lacking presentation, and little-to-no visual polish. Your money is better spent elsewhere - consider the much better alternatives just mentioned.
6/30/2008 Arnold Katayev