Disney Pixar’s UP is based on the animated movie of the same name which tells the tale of adventurers Carl Fredricksen and his young sidekick Russell, as they set off on a wild journey through the undiscovered jungles of South America. It’s an unusual partnership but seems to offer some laughs and in game, some endearing moments of platforming action where the wisdom of Carl helps guide the enthusiasm of Russell across hazardous terrain. With sidekick Dug the dog on hand to help out as well as Kevin the prehistoric bird and you have all the ingredients and characters for an interesting and eventful adventure on the slopes of the Amazonian Tepuis.
UP features a mixture of gameplay styles and as the game begins you’re thrust into the cockpit of a bi-plane as Dug the dog taking on a squadron of enemy planes. It’s basic as you fly around a small area shooting up a few planes to progress the story but a neat introduction to the game and its characters. Once the flying antics are out of the way the game begins proper as you take control of Carl and Russell as they cross the terrain whilst attached to Carl’s floating house. The gameplay is very much steered towards the platforming side as you work out how to get from A to B using the skills of each character. Carl has his cane which allows him to reach up to ledges and pull up Russell, it also allows him to lever certain objects to help progression. Whereas Russell can shimmy along narrow ledges, use tools to pass seemingly impassable obstacles and use a rope to pull Carl up from down below. A simple tap of a button lets you control Carl or Russell and you’re going to need to as each section requires some lateral thinking. However the pacing is very relaxed and if you’re left scratching your head as to what needs to be done next you’ll get an audio clue to help you along the way.
There’s little else to say about the gameplay on offer as you merely head from A to B working out the minor obstacles and simply collecting coins along route as well as various bugs and butterflies. The purpose of these are to unlock quest cards by collecting coins, and then fulfilling the quest requirements to unlock extra content such as multiplayer arenas and concept artworks. The questing can be done at any time as you can revisit any level and replay again to your hearts content. There are also hidden collectibles to find for those of you keen on searching every nook and cranny of the game world.
On occasion the gameplay switches to something different which is welcome, this includes sliding down watery slopes collecting coins and avoiding crocodiles to engaging in boss battles versus said crocodile and an overly large anaconda snake. These are none too taxing and with helpful hints on offer means that you’ll have no trouble passing these obstacles once you work it all out.
Graphically, the game offers standard looking environments with nothing jumping out at you catching your eye like the bugs and butterflies do in the game. The word functional springs to mind, that’s not to say the graphics are bad in any way, just not the graphical showcase you might expect on Xbox 360. In terms of capturing the essence of the movie and characters then it’s a job well done but this is to be expected. There are some noticeable glitches with the partner AI at times where they will get stuck and will require you to switch to them to fix the problem. There are also some issues with the camera should you require to backtrack. These are mildly annoying but nothing too grating.
There’s a relaxing musical score on offer which heats up when you encounter some of the game’s canine enemies. The voice acting is quite typical for the game type and you’ll be privy to an assortment of sound effects that are expected and well suited to the on screen action. There’s really little else to say about the audio as it does what it says on the tin and nothing more.
Not the longest of games for accomplished gamers, yet at the same time for the younger audience there’s probably enough here to keep them entertained without heading into the boredom territory. Once the game is complete you can replay levels to complete quest cards or even embark on co-op play from the offset, and if you’re feeling a little more competitive then there’s a multiplayer mode to sink your teeth into.
UP is a typical movie tie in game aimed at the younger gamer that are all too common on Xbox 360. It’s neither brilliant or bad and if you’re an older gamer (aged 12 and over) then you might find the simplicity a little too much to bear. However, for those younger than 12 who are quite well versed with video games, you should find some adequate fun and games for you and a friend or brother/sister especially now the Winter nights are closing in. If you’re a fan of the movie and want to take a slice of it home with you, then this is the best thing beside renting the DVD when it releases.
In closing, UP is a solid game for youngsters, short and to the point, there’s some easy to manage gameplay that is neither taxing or overly complex. For achievement hunters, there’s possibly an easy 1000 points on offer yet it’s clear the game, like the movie, is aimed at kids so don’t expect full on action entertainment.