Toy Story 2
Well it looks like those wacky, loveable toys are at again…That's right I mean Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the gang from Toy Story have returned, this time in Toy Story 2.
Things have been nice and quiet over at Andy's house since Woody and Buzz learned to get along and all of toys have been having a relatively peaceful life (for a toy that is). Then one day an overzealous toy collector named Al discovers that Woody is quite a collectors piece and worth some serious cash. Of course Andy won't part with his Woody (hehehe), so the toy collector steals him from the backyard. Buzz makes a valiant attempt to catch the car as it speeds away, but ends up falling off the bumper and into the street. At least he manages to catch a glimpse of Al's personalized license plate before the car zooms off.
Still, Buzz is determined to get his friend back and with the help of the other toys he might just succeed! But where has Andy's Woody been taken (okay, I'll stop now) and how will Buzz find him? Hey, it's all in the game folks!
Sound and Graphics:
The wonderfully whimsical music of the original Toy Story is back in Toy Story 2. Right from the opening menu you can hear a Randy Newman melody filling in the background as you make your gameplay selections. As always, music plays an integral part in any game and the tunes in Toy Story 2 fit in just great with the title.
The sound effects are also excellent with many of the sound bytes taken directly from the movie. The great part though is the voices! Tim Allen provides the voice of Buzz Lightyear and can be heard throwing in a series of one-liners throughout the game "Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!" Tom Hanks provides the voice of Woody, and Don Rickles plays Mr. Potato Head (perfect role). Annie Potts as Bo Peep, John Ratzenberger does Hamm, Jim Varney provides for Slinky Dog, Earl Bowen voices Rex, Joan Cusack as Jessie and rounding out the talent is R. Lee Ermey as the voice of Sergeant. Definitely some major voice talent in their folks and it's all in the game. Enjoy!
The graphics are done surprisingly well, considering the movie uses complex computer rendering power that home console owners can only dream of (for now).
What we do get are a bunch of sweet cut scenes from the actual movie that help to set up the story in the beginning and progress the story along at end of each Zone.
The in game graphics are about what I have come to expect for a high quality 3D platformer on the Playstation. The character models are very well defined and animate nicely…Buzz is particularly well done. There is absolutely no way you will mistake any of the main characters in the game from those in the movie.
I liked a lot of the special effects that where used throughout the game. The water effects were very well done and varied with the circumstances. Pool water was nice and clear and inviting but the boiling water was menacing just looked hot! In first person view you get a nifty reflection of Buzz's face off of his helmet. There are lots of really subtle effects like this all through the game and it really adds to the enjoyment of the title.
Let's face it, there is no way the game was ever going to look exactly like the movie, but with the sweet cut scenes and creative layout of the game, the graphics end up being a real treat and work well throughout the title…go figure.
How Well the Game Plays:
Right from the start I kind of figured that I would enjoy playing Toy Story 2. I mean, here I finally get my chance to control Buzz Lightyear with his laser shooter and wings that pop out, I can surely take on anything that stands in my way!
Well, that's kinda true, Buzz can certainly take out most of his opponents pretty easily…the real trick though is learning how to cope with things out there in the real world. A well placed laser works just fine on some nasty ass toy but how does he reach the doorknob to get out of the house?
The game really manages to pull of a nice sense of scale and scope between the toys and the world. Considering the fact that everything is of course made to human scale, being a small toy can have its challenges. Just climbing up a chair or trying to reach a ledge can end up being a series of multiple moves just to pull it off. There are scenes when you are either up in a tree or in a building and you can look down and see the backyard or town and get a real sensation of height that will almost make you dizzy!
Luckily the control is right on, which is a good thing because some of the situations you will find yourself in will require nerves of steal and the patience of a saint. I can't tell you how many times I had to retry certain series of jumps in the game over and over and over again. It almost came down to a Zen thing….either I was in the zone or I wasn't. The rhythm of the moves either flowed like a river or came to a screeching halt. I found it best at those times to just put the controller down and come back a bit later after thinking things through in my mind.
The root of the game is controlling Buzz Lightyear on his quest to save his friend Woody…getting there though is what the whole game is really all about. You start off in Andy's house and soon learn that not all toys are friendly. There are some nasty robots that will shoot and attack you…time to zoom in and fire your laser blaster! You will also notice that there are shiny coins laying all over the place, guess it must be all the pennies that people throw all over the place. Well, in this game collecting a certain amount of these coins can really payoff when deposited with good old Hamm. Buzz also has a good selection of other moves such as the ability to slide down zip lines, execute a super foot stomp, push objects and climb poles, plants, etc.
The game is broken out into Five Zones or worlds with each world having three levels for a total of 15 levels in the game. Yeah I know it sounds kind of short, but the levels are pretty large and there is a lot to do in each of them. There are tons of sub missions or tasks that you can partake in that can have you playing each level for hours on end. The sub missions are usually dished out by the other characters in the game and consist of all sorts of challenges. You may have to find Mr. Potato Heads ear, race RC the racing car or find other items of interest to the other toys. Each and every Zone has its own special puzzle and race to participate in.
You can always choose to ignore a lot of the sub missions and just continue to progress through the zones if you like. To do this though you will have either an encounter with a boss or have to pull off some feats of acrobatics that would make the flying Wallenda's gasp in fear. Once accomplished you are rewarded with a Token and given the choice of continuing in that level or moving to the next. If you choose to move to the next level you can also elect to save your game at that point.
Besides the occasional camera angle problem I really enjoyed playing Toy Story 2. It surprised me that the developers could even get as close as they could to recreating this movie into a game. It plays out amazingly well proved to me a tremendous challenge….hell, maybe my reflexes are just getting slower… At any rate, some of the stuff you have to pull off in order to be able to progress is tough, but well laid out. There are also little alphabet blocks strategically placed in the game that will give you clues to the many moves that Buzz can perform. Most of the time the clues end up solving of how to get from point A to point B, but you still have to pull off the maneuver yourself.
Overall Score: 8/10