A quirky and imaginative film turns into a stale and tired videogame with “Wall-E,” THQ’s utterly mediocre adaptation of the new Disney/Pixar toon. Though it sharply replicates the film’s look and sounds, the “Wall-E” game has none of the movie’s romantic spirit as it sends the lead robot and his gal pal Eve on a set of uninspired missions pulled out of the videogame cliches handbook. An embarrassingly short sub-five hour length only reinforces the feeling that the “Wall-E” game won’t enjoy anything close to the film’s likely success.
Developer Heavy Iron certainly had a tough task in adapting “Wall-E” into a game. This isn’t “Cars” or “Kung Fu Panda,” where the toon naturally fits into an existing game genre. But turning Wall-E into a “Master Chief”-like killing machine with a laser or sending Eve on timed flying races isn’t the answer. Puzzle solving more naturally fits Wall-E’s inquisitive personality, but the game’s puzzles are so straightforward and repetitive that they won’t challenge anyone old enough to hold onto a controller.
The game follows the story of the film via animated cutscenes, but rarely manages to integrate the plot into gameplay. Levels are essentially pauses interspersed in the narrative that, without much rhyme or reason, give Wall-E and Eve tasks like throwing trash cubes at targets to activate a bridge or shooting hundreds of menacing robots while going from point A to point B. From keycards to exploding barrels to tedious boss battles, virtually every tired videogame concept makes an appearance.
The game does a solid job of capturing the signature looks and sounds of Wall-E and Eve, as well as the post-apocalyptic Earth landscape and the sterile, corporate controlled spaceship where humanity now resides. But there’s a lot of repetition, from music that quickly transforms from endearing to grating to rooms that leave players wondering whether they’re going in a circle or the designers just couldn’t be bothered to come up with something new. Frequent camera problems and huge instruction boxes that block half the screen only make playing even more difficult.
A handful of multiplayer games add a bit more depth to the package, though they’re only playable offline, and in some cases are completely confusing.
It’s unfortunate that the designers chose to use Buy ‘n’ Large, the megastore that controls humanity’s consumption habits in the film’s futuristic world, as a frequent motif, since it’s a constant reminder of what a pointless corporate tie-in the “Wall-E” videogame turned out to be.