In this industry, there are two types of games that you can safely bet on supplying poor quality: ones that tie in with the release of a feature film, and ones aimed primarily at children. WALL-E is both of those, so don’t get too surprised when I tell you that the experience is less than average. The title has rushed, uninspired design etched all over the disc, with extremely shallow gameplay better suited for an actual robot to partake in rather than a human. WALL-E certainly does show up, and stumbles through all the usual hoops, but does little to entice you to stick around for the whole performance.
The game, developed by Heavy Iron Studios, follows the events of the film by first placing you on the treads of the adorable little bucket of bolts, sorting through a never-ending amount of trash on a future planet Earth. The game carries a mix of platforming, shooting, and puzzle solving, but a majority of your activities will revolve around simple tasks such as lifting cubes of garbage and hurling them at targets to bypass hazards in the environment. Solving the “puzzles” of WALL-E is pretty easy, as the logo of the Buy and Large Corporation almost always appears on an object of some importance, or that should have a cube thrown at it. Some variety is thrown in by adding different kinds of cubes such as ones containing energy to activate machinery, and magnetic cubes to move objects, but there’s nothing terribly interesting done with the physics, having the gameplay amount to little more than monotonous cube tossing.
WALL-E himself always reminded me of a RC toy to begin with, and you’ll find that he controls like one, with very sporadic movement that can take some time to adjust to. When you combine that will the awful camera glitches the game can become an incredible bother to play, with no compelling challenges to make up for it. Later, you’ll get to take control of WALL-E’s love interest, the fembot EVE, who moves through flight and is controlled by the left stick, which also aims her laser, fired by the right trigger. Controlling EVE isn’t much easier than WALL-E, since her maneuverability ranges from being still to rocketing forward at breakneck speed, causing some frequent crashes during initial flights.
When controlling EVE, the player will usually be tasked with flying through enclosed environments, like the tunnels of a dilapidated power plant, or the inner workings of a spaceship. These moments are sparse, but a nice departure from the regular platforming gameplay. Once the two AI’s get together, you’ll have to sort of control both. Gamers will mainly play as WALL-E but pressing the left stick will bring up EVE’s laser. EVE can also lift WALL-E into the air to get across large gaps, but I mostly felt this teamwork to be a bit clumsy and not all that much of a differentiation from playing as just WALL-E himself. It is an area of the game that might have had some potential for innovation.
You’ll eventually leave Earth to stow away on a Buy and Large space cruiser, but don’t worry about missing the trash heaps as a junkyard level is supplied for some very familiar scenery. Here the game does away with some the platforming scenarios, but still keeps the same cube-carrying puzzles. WALL-E does gain access to EVE’s laser for some more shooting focused gameplay, but what stems from that is waves and waves of the exact same enemies, and a terrible auto lock on system that loses the target as soon as you move (the manual aiming is way too sensitive and cannot be adjusted). There are a few times where WALL-E must morph into cube form to maneuver through tumbler sections that enable players to flip through different industrial obstacle courses and magnetized walls, which I must admit were pretty enjoyable.
The single-player campaign can be completed in roughly 5-6 hours, and supplies some unlockables earned from collecting wallops such as concept art, and outfits for the characters in the game’s multiplayer modes. The multiplayer component, which is entirely offline, consists of two games for two players, and two games for up to four. EVE Aerial Arena encompasses two players controlling EVE herself, trying to fly through more rings than their competitor. Robot Tag Sim is the combinative game type, putting four WALL-E units against one another in nine different arenas armed with lasers and power ups such as shielding and hammers. Keep the Cube is a similar set up to the previous one, except all players must fight over a cube to see who can hold onto it the longest.
The last, and most disappointing game, is a cooperative mode that has two players throwing cubes at targets in order to slow down a ticking countdown clock. Both players are in a single room, on opposite sides with no real interaction whatsoever, so it isn’t much of a co-op experience. In the end, the multi-player of WALL-E is a collection of simple game types aimed at kids, contained in a game made for kids, functioning only as a brief dessert to the story mode.
Graphically, WALL-E looks like it doesn’t belong to this generation of consoles, much less from the future. The environments feel incredibly stationary and dead, with bland colors containing little detail. The wastelands of Earth can only look so good, but I’m sure more could have been done. The characters’ animations aren’t all that bad, but their polygon counts are certainly lacking. When one of the game’s cutscenes does appear, there’s a fair amount of blurriness, and colors appear very dark, giving a low-resolution, halfhearted look that comes nowhere near to matching the kind of presentation seen in a Pixar film. Sound-wise, the “voices” of all the characters are present, as is the score from the film in a respectable manner, but I felt a few more tracks could have been included for variety’s sake.
Like the mechanical, derivative, cube-building purpose behind poor little WALL-E himself, the game serves the age old stigma that all movie and kids games adhere to, supplying a shallow, cheap experience meant to be part of a larger entity. Anyone over 6 will probably grow tired of the very one-dimensional simplistic gameplay mechanics, but any enjoyment you could get out of that is frequently hindered by bad controls and a camera that just plain hates the user at some points. If you’ve got a young one at home that’s currently enraptured by all things WALL-E, perhaps give it a rent; by the time its due for return, Pixar’s next film should probably be out.