With the Toy Story 3 video game hitting shelves on June 15, and the Toy Story 3 film hitting theaters June 18, it’s no surprise that Disney Interactive Studios and Avalanche Software are eager to show off the game. And when one considers what Toy Story 3 has to offer its players, it’s no real wonder. This writer was recently invited to a Toy Story 3 demonstration here in NYC with Avalanche Software’s John Day, and is pleased to report that the title has more than a fair share of impressive surprises.
Instead of simply pumping out a quick movie tie-in game, Avalanche Software poured a tremendous amount of energy into thier imaginative Toy Box mode, a sandbox-style environment where players are encouraged to simply play. The premise itself seems incredibly simple, but Avalanche’s execution of the concept is so novel that this writer couldn’t help but grin at the idea. Here is a game that lets you play with toys. John Day describes the Toy Box’s inception.
When we first pitched the game, two and a half years ago to Pixar, we had this idea we kicked around that we called the “Toy Box.” Let’s take all of Andy’s toys, throw them into an environment that’s totally open, and let players play with them any way they want: customize them, change them, we’ll have some missions associated with them, etc. If you want to ride on Bullseye and do races, we want to let you do that. If you want to play with the Hot Wheels cars, we’ll let you do that. It was a novel kind of idea: one that we’ve never really done before, but it sounded really fun. It sounded like what it would be like to play with toys.
That’s not to say that the “story mode” isn’t there. It makes sense to tie the game in with the film, and Avalanche suggested both ideas to Pixar. “Our general manager pitched both ideas,” says Day, “and John Lasseter looked at him and goes, ‘How about we do both.’ And when John Lasseter asks you to do something, there is only one right answer.”
The real meat and potatoes of Toy Story 3 is the Toy Box. John Day tells us that story mode length clocks-in at about three to four hours. On the other hand, two producers sat down with Toy Story 3‘s Toy Box and did everything there was to do: all the missions, all customization capsules found, everything, and finished off in about 13 hours. These were two experienced players. Avalanche estimates that a new player could expect to play for over twenty hours.
The Toy Box is essentially an open-world environment where players can dive in and build, throw, explore, customize and otherwise play with whatever they want. This cannot be stressed enough: players can fiddle around with virtually anything that’s in the Toy Box, to great effect. Players can create and customize the buildings in the Toy Box, all the toys they accrue, and even change the look of the dozens of NPCs, which include characters created by Avalanche Studios as well as plenty of Toy Story’s staple characters (like the 3-eyed aliens, Bullseye, Stinky Pete, Rex and many, many more). And the more players engage in and explore the world, the more customization options open up, in the form of vending machine capsules or extras purchased through toy-kiosks.”We want players to be able to make this their Toy Story, their town,” says Day.
However, Story Mode (represented by a board game) is certainly no slouch. While it may be shorter than Toy Box mode, it offers eight story scenarios, divided into two categories: “Imaginative Play” levels, and “Real World” levels. Imaginative play levels are designed around Andy’s imagination: the toys and scenes play out as they would if Andy was playing with them. The toys have super powers, they play out in fantastic locations, and are wonderfully dynamic. In the real world levels, the toys are small and deal with challenges they encounter in the movie. Real world levels are more puzzle/platform-oriented, while imaginative play levels are more action-heavy.
One last thing to note: you no doubt have heard that the one-and-only badass Emperor Zurg is a playable character in the Toy Box. Zurg is PS3-exclusive, and there are no other exclusive characters for the other consoles (the Xbox 360 and Wii). On top of that, The PS3 version will support Playstation Move functionality when the Move hits shelves in the fall.
Check back with Examiner soon for a full review of the game!
NY Console Games Examiner articles ©2010 by Gabriel Zamora; reposts permitted with link back to original article. All other rights reserved.
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