What with Kung Fu Panda bucking the trend and providing the first genuinely fun cartoon movie tie-in for ages, you'll forgive us for approaching Wall-E with our guard down. Alas, with the videogame companion to Pixar's brilliant animated box office hit, it's very much business as usual.
To be fair, while Wall-E suffers from more than its fair share of glitches and annoyances though, it's not all bad and from a gameplay perspective, it's fairly inoffensive. That might have something to do with it being developed by Heavy Iron, the same studio that made last year's Ratatouille - a game that actually turned out to be pretty good (hence why we gave it a very reasonable 70% back in issue 22). Wall-E, sadly, isn't quite up to the same standard, but that's mainly because the game can't seem to decide what it wants to be; it tries to squeeze several gameplay styles together and just winds up in a confusing heap.
Taking Out The Trash
The best parts are undoubtedly when you're controlling Wall-E, trundling around collecting Whallop tokens, finding glowing tubes to repair dispenser stations with and generally solving simple platform-based puzzles. Things take a slight dip once Eve joins the fray, if only because the focus moves more onto combat; you still control Wall-E, but have to start blowing up enemy robots and turrets with Eve's laser, which is more of a chore than the puzzle solving. However, it's the flying sections that really lower the bar because they're pretty rubbish. The two free-roaming stages are fine, but having to whiz down tunnels on a fixed path with little chance of failure (you just hold down A and fire at anything that gets in your path) is utterly pointless and very boring.
And as we said at the start, there's a distinct lack of polish about the whole product too. We appreciate that Wall-E has tank tracks, but controlling him is still horrible at times and if he's not accidentally falling off platforms because of his inability to turn around without going in a wide circle, he's sliding around like he's on ice. The camera's incredibly unfriendly too, thanks to it failing to follow WallE around properly (you're continually having to press the - button to centre it on him) and picking out the most awkward angle when you're trying to jump across hazardous platforms. And then there are the graphical glitches that, while not exactly gameplay ruining, just aren't pretty. From enemies simply disappearing instead of exploding when you destroy them to falling scenery glitching through your character, it's all a bit rough in places - especially against the incredibly pretty movie cutscenes.
It's a shame because like Ratatouille, Wall-E could have been quite good; instead, it's merely alright. It's still better than some of the other movie-to-game pap we've seen over the years, but it's doubtful that anyone other than the youngest and least interested of gamers will get more than a mild sense of satisfaction out of it.