Disney Pixar's Up

If you believe entirely in trends, that nothing ever changes, and that every stereotype might as well be left typed, then Up will probably not even cross your radar in the videogames world. Traditionally, games based on films are rubbish. Compounding the problem, games designed for kids are usually rubbish too. The worst of the bunch are, therefore, games based on films, designed for kids. Up is one such game, but here's something that, following the build up of this paragraph, probably won't be a massive shock now: Up isn't that bad. The game is based on Pixar's digital adventure featuring the unlikely duo of an elderly man, looking to reach the tranquil waterfall setting he and his late wife dreamed of, and a young scout, determined to augment his badge collection by helping the elderly. Oh, and there's Doug, a dog with a collar that lets him speak, and Kevin, an over-enthusiastic, highly hyperactive... bird thingy. The game manages to capture a lot of the key moments from the story, without covering itself in poop and making itself entirely unplayable. It's no Ratchet and Clank, but Up defies expectations.

Disney Pixar's Up

Jumping straight in, an incredible feature that elevates this game from okay to actually quite good is the cooperative mode. Two players can team up, taking control of the key cast, and solve puzzles together, fight enemies and collect relics, mementos, bugs and more. What might be a mediocre adventure is raised to a higher standard with effective teamwork and believeable co-op moments. Situations rarely seem entirely contrived, unlike a lot of forced co-op games which mysteriously feature two buttons to open a door, both of which must be pushed simultaneously... however can this be solved? Imagine how Lara Croft would have fared with two switches and not a boulder in sight? Game over on the spot? Anyway, Up sets a good standard, though somewhat predictably it involves characters playing to strengths such as small size, different kit (like a bug net), and the use of a cane or rope (to help lift your co-op teammate up a slope). It's actually used better in one of the game's few boss fights. There aren't many major monster encounters in the game, and maybe that's best for the younger audience, but when you do encounter a certain angry croc, the co-op method of defeating this scaley foe is quite satisfying.

Disney Pixar's Up

Even the co-op wouldn't be enough to rescue Up if the core gameplay beneath the surface wasn't already enjoyable. There's nothing to scream about from the top of a building, for better or worse. It stays within the boundaries, creating a pleasant enough experience to enjoy. With a little care and attention, the finished product is a game that can be enjoyed by all, instead of an offensive stain on the clothing of the videogame industry, left by lazy developers of children's games. You're unlikely to find yourself stuck in the scenery, blocked by invisible walls, unable to master a jump simply because of dodgy controls, or unable to fight enemies because of broken combat mechanics. Everything works smoothly enough, avoiding any illusion-shattering calamities.

The same can happily be said visually too. Once again, there's nothing outstanding, but the bright, vibrant world is reasonably immersive and true to the film. Textures won't dazzle and amaze, but the undergrowth seems suitably deep, the backdrops are comfortably picturesque and the various characters and enemies are all solidly believeable. There's a certain amount of elegant simplicity to the game that works well, and would undoubtedly suit a younger audience. There's no need for fourteen different blood textures, or worn gritty realism. Up is all about being an enjoyable adventure, with good fighting evil in a bright jungle setting. To meet this aim, objectives are set regularly, with clear instructions that manage not to intrude too much. Though you'll be told about certain key areas to search for treasures the first time you encoutner them, things aren't spelled out every single time. The plot is moved forward by the characters, often with explanations from one to the other, in favour of intrusive plot dialogue bubbles plastered across the screen.

Disney Pixar's Up

There are some occasional glitches in the voicework which, overall, is quite reasonable, but suffers from a few synchronization issues in places. Aside from that, Up can only really be criticized for a lack of ambition. The inclusion of cooperative play is a definite vote winner, but more would be needed to appeal to a wider audience. That said, the developers have taken a clear interest in making a solid game, rather than insulting the tastes of the younger gaming generation. For older gamers, there's plenty of fun to be found, particularly with a friend, and I suspect the game is ideally suited to situations where parent and child play together, laughing at the same mischievious moments within the game.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

THQ

Developer:

THQ

Players:

1-4

Online:

None

Release:

2010-10-02

Trophies:

43

Review summary

Gameplay:

Enjoyable cooperative gameplay, but simple

Graphics:

Colourful, fun, but basic

Sound:

Some poorly timed voicework, but okay

Lastability:

A short adventure, but fun for a time

6.8

Aurora

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