The toys are back, that's right to follow along with the movie; Activision has released Toy Story 2 for Playstation. The basic story of Toy Story 2 follows the plot of the movie point for point. Now while I have seen the movie, the numerous FMV cuts directly from the film between levels, will most likely spoil the movie for you, so if you want to see the movie - do that before playing this game. Anyway, the story is this, you pal, Woody, has been kidnapped, and it is up to you, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of Andy's favorite toys to rescue him. The action is mission based and rooted in specific geographical locations throughout the game - Andy's House, Al's Toy Barn, The Airport, and so on, just like the movie.
The levels are quite vast, ok well only a few rooms, but hey you are a 6-inch toy, so that makes them damn big for you. However it is very unfortunate that you'll spend most of your time saving or racing or doing things for the other toys you brought along with you. The reason they came is to help you save Woody, but the game revolves around you doing things for them on every level. Buzz would have much better served to just go it alone and left all them behind. One such example is that on virtually every level Mr. Potato Head loses something. I wanted to just find his part and some Krazy Glue and make sure nothing else fell out. Then you also have to take time out to race RC around the level instead of him just giving you a ride to where Woody is. With the exception of buzz it seems that everyone, including your "teammates", is against you.
The gameplay in Toy Story 2 is fairly solid. Buzz has a number of moves at his disposal (the stomp out of mid-air, the double-jump, the spin move, the ability to grab edges and pull himself up a wall) in addition to his powerful laser weapon (I thought it was just a lightbulb, isn't he just a toy?). However, it is very difficult to aim, except in the "sniper mode", which is one of the better features of the game. You switch into a view from inside Buzz' helmet (you can see his reflection in the grass and hear him breathing), get a crosshair to aim, and to an extent there is a "lock on" ability, but it is very limited. Basically it will only work if the enemy is in your range and is sitting still or moving very slowly.
Buzz controls decently, but the problem is that he just doesn't control as well as certain other platform characters, however, has a quest comparable to the longest of any of them. Everything about the controls feels OK. That is until you try doing something like jumping for a ledge. They are always inches out of Buzz's reach, no matter how much you double-jump. The game is very unforgiving here, even if you just barley miss it, you won't even make an attempt to grab for the ledge. The game make sup for this by not having jumps that you must make or die. However, if you do miss a jump, you will most likely have to backtrack and spend 10 minutes going through everything again to get where you just fell from, where chances are you will fall again at least one more time before you make it. This makes the game very frustrating and will most likely alienate many gamers that a Big License game usually appeals to. There are also times when you must jump from poles that are spaced completely wrong and just even more frustrating. If you could stay on the ground for the whole game, I think it would be great, because once Buzz takes to the air, just be sure you have a lot of patience... A LOT OF PATIENCE!!!!
One saving grace for the game is that is look beautiful. From the crayon-drawn hub that lays out the mission, to the footprints that trail behind Buzz as he steps out of a puddle of oil, to the splashes and water ripples from Buzz wading through water, to the glimmering lighting effects that reflect off Buzz's plastic body, Toy Story 2 is graphically a great game. The stages are laid out well with many hidden areas to seek out and explore, adding to the vast world you have to explore to find Woody. In many times you have to find these hidden areas, to find for instance Mr. Portatohead's eye or hat or whatever. There are some really nice effects in the graphics, when Buzz walks over a hose you actually see him rise up when he steps on it. Electric currents run through puddles, you can look out the windows and see the landscape outside, well done for being 2D.
One problem is that developer Traveller's Tales, so much wanted you to see these impressive graphics, that they included a very aggravating game camera. It is almost always at the wrong angle for what you have to do. So it serves to make the almost impossible jumps in the game that much harder. You can adjust it to an extent, but unless you can complete your action in a fraction of second the camera will swing to the worst possible angle, but when you want it to swing, it will barely move. Also there are times that it will just get stuck behind a wall or some other object.
The game has decent sound. Gone is the film's score, it is replaced by one that it is a fairly competent and energetic. Nothing is too intrusive, and it plays to the film's pace better than the control does. The voices, however, are again a detriment. Clips from the film were used for the voices, instead of having lines specifically recorded for the game. This is understandable with the amount of money it would have cost to do that, but the implementation isn't too well done. Buzz has a number of trademark phrases, but often he repeats one in a matter of seconds. Other characters speech is sampled poorly. However, the game is full of little sound effects and minute audio details (given to background effects, like water drops) that add a lot to the game experience.
On the whole the game is not bad. Whether you have seen the movie or not, the game does stand-alone. However, if you do want to see the movie, as I said, you are better off seeing the movie before playing this game. Despite all the drawbacks, the game is still fun and worth getting and trying it out. It is a fun mix of adventure, puzzle, and platform elements. It can be played by people of all ages, but for children it may be handy to have an adult to help read all the clues and perhaps get them through some of the difficult jump sequences. If you are a fan of the movie, then you should try this game out. It does justice to the license and does a good job of converting the movie's story into a fun game for all.
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