Jun 23, 2008

Wall-E computes on all platforms

Part two of my Wall-E preview brings us to the video game developed by Heavy Iron Studios for THQ. Walking in, I wasn't really expecting much from the game. I assumed it would be directed entirely at kids and be too simple for me to find it interesting. I learned the hard way that not all kid games translate to adults. Finding Nemo: Escape to the Big Blue (DS), I'm talking to you. My six-year-old niece would have found Nemo challenging but it left me bored. Fortunately, even though the Wall-E game is aimed at youngsters, it's accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

There's always a lot of lead time with animated features. The Disney/Pixar movie Wall-E took about four years to make and THQ was there along the way in order to get the best possible product made. Sometimes THQ would get ahead of Pixar but they were always communicating to make sure they were going in the right direction. Wall-E Director/Production Designer Ralph Eggleston believes that for the first time, "The THQ game has really captured the flavor on every level of the movie."

Gameplay has Wall-E traveling from Earth to the Axiom Starliner in nine different worlds. On some you'll be solving puzzles, others you'll be shooting, racing or flying. You can have up to four players in mulitplayer challenges and mini-games that you unlock along the way. Lyle Hall, the V.P., Product Development and General Manager of Heavy Iron Studios is very pleased with how the game is set-up. "We get a chance to sort of expand on moments in the film and give you things in the game that you actually might not see in the film for more than a few seconds or are alluded to," he said. So even though the game was released today you may want to see the movie this weekend first so you can appreciate some of the in's-and-out's.

The game begins with Wall-E on Earth doing his job. Picking up trash and turning it into cubes. "We decided as we saw the film to use that as his primary weapon to interact with the world," explained Hall. Vending machines throughout the game supply Wall-E with different kinds of trash cubes to be used for different kinds of effects such as a "heavy cube." Wall-E must also turn himself into cube form in order to traverse certain obstacles.

While on Earth there are actually many Wall-E's that no longer function. "He's not the only Wall-E that exists and as he moves through the space he can find other robots that he can use to repair himself so that he can do different things that he was not able to do previously," said Hall. Also, being solar-powered, Wall-E can use solar stations to heal himself when needed.

Wall-E's love interest EVE is also a playable character. She even gets a few boards to herself. One of them has her zooming through the engine tunnels of the Axiom which are not seen in the movie. She also has a very different play-style since she's a much newer robot. One of EVE's talents that comes in handy is her flight capability. "We've actually got two levels in which you play both Wall-E and EVE together," said Hall, "EVE can pick him up and she can carry him to high places or far places that they couldn't get to if Wall-E tried to jump there by himself." It's very reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 where Tails could be used to fly Sonic to those hard-to-reach spots.

Just like in the movie, Wall-E eventually leaves Earth for the Axiom. "He's got a lot of different tools on the ship that he didn't have on Earth," said Hall. One of those tools is another type of trash cube, this time it's an "energy cube." The adorable compulsive cleaner robot Mo shows up to clean up your mess and you must distract him with more trash to make a getaway. At one point, Wall-E even gets a laser gun to defend himself against security droids. Watch out when you hit the freeway of humans on the ship. Here we get a glimpse into the future of the human race, we ride around in hoverchairs all day that feed us all the information we need.

Obviously the graphics for the XBOX 360 version of the game look a lot better than the Wii but for those of you who enjoy using the Wiimote the developers put a lot of effort into making the most use out of it. "The controls for the Wii are really dynamic," said Hall. "EVE can fly and she can shoot and she can fly and shoot at the same time," he continued. All you have to do is point the Wiimote where you want her to go. You can also use it to throw trash cubes at targets.

At the time of the preview the Playstation 3 version of the game was not available to be displayed but Hall explained it would be similar to the other consoles except with a few different levels. However, he said the DS version would be quite different, "We actually have 100 rooms and the goal is to get out of each room and use Wall-E's ability with his different kinds of cubes and his ability to throw them." Similar to Portal, you must place certain cubes on platforms to weigh them down. "There's about five or six different cubes that we actually don't have on the console games that are unique to the DS," said Hall. The main action happens on the upper screen while the touch screen is used to pick up cubes and throw them. You also get to play as EVE for a short bit as well but overall it seems the DS version is much more contained in it's environments.

Parents, don't be ashamed if you're playing it long after you're children have gone to bed or if you don't have kids and you just want it for yourself. Wall-E the video game has set the standard for all future Pixar related titles. You can be sure they're already hard at work at the next one and that it will be even more impressive. For me it'll be hard to compete, Wall-E's my new best friend.

3 comments:

Bill said...

Got it this morning after one long fight with gamestop but definately worth it.

The Nerdy Bird said...

Nice! What do you think so far?

Holly said...

I haven't played the game yet - only watched the movie not long ago. And if the game has anything to do with the movie itself, I will definitely like it!!! You may download the movie here