WALL•E is the latest blockbuster feature film from Pixar Animation Studios, one that critics have been hailing for its originality and its emotionally engaging story that draws on the traditions of silent movies.
The videogame of the same name follows the same story, in which all humans have evacuated Earth in spaceships after it became too polluted to support life, leaving behind thousands of WALL•E robots to clean up. However, the robots malfunctioned and, 700 years later, only one WALL•E remains, and after so many years in isolation he has developed emotions.
Then, a feminine robot called EVE arrives to search for vegetation and WALL•E falls in love, although his feelings are not reciprocated by the emotionally void Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. Yet still he clings to the hull of her spacecraft as she leaves and follows her into deep space.
For the opening levels, the developer faced the tough task of creating a fun game using a single character in an unpopulated world, and the results are original and entertaining. The player controls WALL•E as he goes about his business, clearing up the wasteland that Earth has become. The little robot is a joy to control as he scoots around smashing crates and collecting the blue tokens needed to progress to the next stage.
Gameplay is a unique mix of genres, combining platforming with, as unlikely as it sounds, skateboarding games. To access certain crates, WALL•E must use ramps and jump over gaps, and the level design is inventive enough to ensure this remains varied throughout; there's great satisfaction to be had by working out the best ways to gather those elusive tokens. Normal crates are destroyed by turning into a cube and crashing into them, while red ones must be dispatched with WALL•E's laser and bonus mini-games can be unlocked for finding every crate in a level.
The aforementioned variation in level design is the game's greatest strength; similar to the superb Ratchet & Clank series, it refuses to sit still and each new level is radically different from the last in both look and gameplay. There are stages in which you have to race downhill, breaking crates and ducking under pipes against the clock; one of the levels is an on-rails first person shooter that sees WALL•E flying through space, firing his laser at oncoming debris; and later levels introduce stealth elements.
Graphically, the game is true to its source material and each stage is a faithful recreation of a scene from the movie; impressive given their diversity. The early levels, with their hills of rubbish and tangled networks of pipes and cables, are extremely well designed and convey a sense of chaos and disorder without obscuring the correct path.
THQ's relationship with Pixar has been a fruitful one; both companies are committed to innovation and quality and WALL•E provides further evidence of this. While this game will appeal to the millions of people who have seen the film, it's a thoroughly entertaining title in its own right and well worth checking out if you're looking for a fun, well made game that the entire family will enjoy.
Like the little robot they forgot to turn off, WALL•E has already cleaned up at the box office; this game has all the qualities of a smash hit.