Why you might actually want to play Toy Story 3

Is anyone surprised a new Toy Story game is on the way? There’s a new movie coming out, after all, so a coinciding game is practically required. But here’s something you may not expect: A reason to care.

Yes, you, Johnny Hardcore. How the hell is Pixar going to grab a gamer’s attention during the Halo: Reach beta and on the eve of a new Mario game? By doing something none of those other slipshod movie licenses have ever even attempted before. “Playing with toys” is taking on a whole new meaning…

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Toy Story 3 just happens to star the most beloved animated film characters of our generation. What kind of monster doesn’t have a soft spot for Woody and Buzz Lightyear? If you’re capable of reading this text, you’ve probably spent more time with Andy’s toys than he has, and for older nerds, they hold a deeper meaning. Not only did Toy Story revitalize the modern animated film, it changed the way people talked about games.

Following 1995, any time a new console was announced, gamers and the press had one question: Will it look like Toy Story? 90% of post-Toy Story articles about games like Donkey Kong Country dropped Pixar’s name, and best of all, everything but Command & Conquer abandoned full-motion video cutscenes. Yet Toy Story’s legacy never seemed to benefit its own games. While I know myself and a few you of you carry fond memories for early Toy Story games, polygons and sprites weren’t up to the task of visually representing the characters, and that’s exactly where Toy Story 3: The VideoGame succeeds.

It should go without saying that the characters look closer to their cinematic counterparts than ever before, but there are smaller, next-gen nuances that’ll warm the hearts of fans who appreciate them. These aren’t the slippery, weightless game heroes most movie cash-ins toss about lazily. Buzz moves with all the recognizable confidence of a plastic Space Ranger, whereas Woody retains the strenuous, exaggerated movements that come from having arms with the consistency of noodles. And Bullseye… watching Bullseye run was honestlyheartwarming.

What can I say? As a fan, touches like that mean a great deal to me, but that’s not even close to the what makes Toy Story 3 look like a remarkable cut above any of its contemporaries. In the afternoon we spent at Pixar, developer Avalanche Studios spent a great deal of time acknowledging where exactly movie licensed games fall short: Rigidly adhering to the plot of the film.

Simply taking moments from a great movie and turning them into bland, extended linear missions is tired, and we all know it. Oh, Toy Story 3 will have story campaign, but we didn’t care to see it, and they didn’t care to show it. (HOWEVER, we were told that the meta videogame opening from Toy Story 2 is playable in the game, which is ridiculously cool. AND being the lucky bastards we are, we got to see the opening of Toy Story 3! Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that it’s a colossal fantasy sequence tailor-suited for a great gameplay experience.)