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Score: 65%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:
Presentation is easily Wall-E's best feature. As far as looks, everything is about as close to the movie as it can get, so the game looks sharp. However, the real magic is in how well the game is able to capture the movie's unique feel. Wall-E is less a story about a little robot that is left behind to clean up a trash-filled Earth and more about someone who is just lonely. Whether intentional or not, the visuals that accompany the movie's official tie-in do a great job at conveying this message.

The game opens with our little trash-compactor quietly rolling through a desolate, human-free Earth. Buildings crumble all around him, the sky is thick with pollution and the only audible sounds are the buzzing of servos and the scuttling of a roach that moves at his side like a loyal dog. All of this is in stark contrast to the cheerful and upbeat "Sunday Clothes" from the musical Hello Dolly. It's a great mood setter and is a great way to squeeze in a whole lot of backstory without saying a word.

As you roll through each section, you'll come across other elements that amplify this feeling. There's an ambient, mechanical soundtrack that plays in the background and all sorts of advertisements announcing space escapes and info on the new Wall-E robots. Although they can get mildly annoying, they help get the message across that everyone just up and left without bothering to turn the lights off.

The underlying gameplay does a pretty good job at building itself around Wall-E's primary ability - he makes cubes of trash. There are four types of trash cubes and each has its use for helping him overcome obstacles. Normal Cubes are good for activating far-off switches, while Heavy Cubes can weigh things down. Magnetized Cubes attract certain metals and Energy Cubes charge up long-dead machines and in a pinch, make a handy explosive.

Most of the game consists of large obstacle courses where Wall-E uses the different block types to solve puzzles and his limited jumping ability to navigate platforming sections. These areas are a little more complex than the block puzzles, though the path is always easy to follow.

The only time Wall-E gets interesting is during a handful of rotating stages that feature long, triangular stages that can be flipped around into different configurations. Each side has a different puzzle and if you can solve all three sides, it'll usually unlock bonus stages where Wall-E can collect treasures for his collection.

Eventually Wall-E runs into Eve, a sleek robot whose second cousin is probably an iPod. Eve's introduction also brings with it a different play style. She can fly around levels and comes armed with a laser gun that is capable of causing a good bit of damage. Even when playing as both characters, the gameplay can't escape being anything more than a mindless romp through the game's plot.

Eve's sections are split between open flight areas and tunnel areas. Open flight areas are mostly scavenger hunts where you look for plants and other objects. Like the platforming areas, the open flight areas have a linear feel that guides you through the level, removing any sort of challenge. Tunnel areas usually involve some sort of race, but are hampered by iffy controls.

Later in the game, Eve's sections turn into straight-out shooting levels, which is an odd design shift when you consider how non-violent the first part of the game is. The shooting areas are much faster-paced than other areas, but are just as mindless. Eve can automatically lock-on to enemies, so all you are really doing is pushing a button and letting the game do all of the work for you, leading to overly long, dull levels.

A few multiplayer areas are included, though they add very little to the overall game.

The biggest problem facing Wall-E is that it falls into one of the more common traps licensed games seem to find; it begins with a great concept only to dumb it down to its perceived target audience, resulting in a dull, laborious game.

Although a great idea, the gameplay never takes the concept beyond the basics taught in the tutorial stage. Trash is always available and the correct cube dispenser is always right where you need it, so there's little reason for any sort of strategic thinking. It's a bit like locking someone in a room, leaving the key next to the lock and challenging them to get out. Granted, I've got a few years on the game's intended audience, but at the same time, I come into contact with them enough that I know they tend to like challenges more than things that are handed to them.

Game Mechanics:
Controls are one of the more challenging gameplay elements. Wall-E tends to slide wherever he goes and lacks any sort of traction. This makes it hard to get where you need to go and even harder to line up jumps, which is a problem when you consider how many there are in the game. Whenever Wall-E jumps, he transforms into a cube that randomly bounces around the area, adding even more issues to jumping.

Learning to control Eve is an even bigger pain and almost caused me to turn the game off multiple times. The basic flight controls don't seem like they would pose much of a problem, but they don't work well enough to be functional. She'll constantly slam into walls and at times, it even feels like she's just going forward with no help from you. The in-game instructions also indicate that the SIXAXIS' motion-controls can be used to steer Eve around, though I was never able to get them to work properly.

Typically, I'd recommend Wall-E for younger gamers, especially since there's a real lack of games targeted at younger players on the PS3. However, Wall-E isn't that good a game to begin with, so unless your kid is a major Wall-E fan, it probably won't hold their interest for very long.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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