|Woody has accidentally been put
out at the garage sale, and even though Andy's mother catches her mistake, a nasty toy
collector won't take "no" for an answer and steals Woody away to his penthouse
apartment. It's up to Buzz Lightyear to find and rescue him (whether he wants to be
rescued or not). Buzz will have to make it out of Andy's house, through Andy's
neighborhood, to the evil collector's toy store, to the apartment, the airport, and
beyond! But rescuing Woody is worth all the work.
There are five zones to make it through, with each zone containing two full levels and a "mini-boss" -mini-level. Each of the regular levels have collectible items, puzzles, and races to complete. Along with this, Buzz must collect coins (donations for Hamm) and Pizza Planet Tokens to advance to the next level. There are more Tokens per level than are necessary to move on to the next, but that number increases as you progress, so it's good to try and collect all of them in each level. Rex is hiding somewhere in each area to guide you and give you hints on what to do to gain tokens if you get stuck and Mr. Potato Head will give you power-ups (which can be re-used throughout the game) if you bring him back parts of his body. And you'll need them as evil toys wait to give you grief at every turn.
The graphics on this game are great, getting ever closer to PC quality. The characters are rounded and the backgrounds are detailed and realistic. Only occasionally are we given polygon representations. Activision has gone to some length to present us with interesting environments to play in, from construction yard to airport terminals. I spent half of my time in evil Al's toy store looking at the funny displays and posters. And Andy's house is amusing as always. Buzz is easy to control and moves very smoothly. This comes in handy in sections where you're required to do a little bit of acrobatics to move from one precipice to another. Not only can Buzz flip around horizontal bars, he can shimmy up poles and plant stocks, repel up walls with his "Space Ranger grappling hook," and slide up and down any zip line (which makes for lots of fun on the clothes lines!). A nice addition to these moves is the fact that it's really hard to damage Buzz, no matter what height you fall from. Buzz's repertoire of moves does not stop there, however, as he has a super foot stomp as well, can push any object marked with flashing green hand symbols, and has an awesome Space Ranger spin attack that can do damage and sometimes deflect enemy attack (and only makes him slightly woozy afterwards). And the gameplay makes you use every one of these spiffy space moves!
The camera floats and can usually pan 360 degrees around Buzz for maximum visual possibilities. The view can also be moved into Buzz's "helmet cam" for special maneuvers (such as using his targeting mode to lock on to enemies or grappling points) or just to see the reflection of his face from the helmet glass superimposed on the surrounding landscape. For the most part, however, the floating cam works most effectively. The music was reminiscent of the movie's and worked very well to set an adventuresome tone to the gameplay. There were also cinema screens that, once unlocked, could be returned to and watched in sequence. These worked nicely to give you a short break, entertain, and fill in the plot line between levels (which is an invaluable tool for kids who play but can't read).
This game was a lot of fun, and I really appreciated the fact that the designers required you to use all the tools and clues you had been given. However, as an adult, the game was fairly easy to move through and didn't present too many obstacles that remained challenging for long. It also didn't really have much re-playability for me after I beat it. Most video and gaming stores now allow five day rentals, and this is enough for most people who play even a moderate amount to finish the game. I think that this is a game that you definitely should pick up, however, as it is a fun and entertaining play. I had my suspicions as to how kids would react to this game, but as a diligent reviewer, I took the guessing out of the equation and nabbed two kids from my nuclear family to play Toy Story 2. One of them was five and a half and the other ten years old. The ten year old finished the game in about a week and a half, and the five year old is still playing. They both had very little difficulty learning to control Buzz and found the game challenging but worth every minute of playtime. In fact, both were so excited about the story line and gameplay that they couldn't wait to tell me every detail (ugghh!) of how their games were going when I saw them. They also both got more playing time out of the game because they were forced to replay some levels to find all of the Pizza Planet tokens to be allowed entrance to higher levels.
Some parents may feel that this since this is not an "educational" game, per se, that it's a waste of time for kids. This game does ask kids to develop not only hand eye coordination, but poses some logic and thinking puzzles and requires thought as to how to proceed using problem solving abilities. But it's also a lot of fun for the kids and if you'll take the time to interact with them, they can tell you all about it during your "quality time." Toy Story 2 is entertaining, well made-a "must rent" for adults and a "must buy" for kids.