Planet 51: The Game – The PS3 Attitude Review
Before we began to play Planet 51: The Game, we knew we had to keep our expectations down to a bare minimum to avoid being let down.
So does the title maintain the negative stigma attached to most games based on films, or does it set a good example to other developers on how it should be done?
The game centres around a small village on an alien planet that appears to be stuck in the 50s. Throughout the title you complete mini-games with Lem, Chuck and Rover, the three of the main characters from the movie. The ultimate goal of the game is to help Chuck, the American astronaut who landed on the planet, get back Home. But he cannot do it alone and this is where Lem and Rover – the WALL-E lookalike – come in.
There are not many real missions in this game and it’s mostly made of mini-games that are a mix of easy to hard difficulties, but sadly they are very tedious too as they include tasks such as mowing a lawn or delivering newspapers. You can do them again for some extra rewards but why would you really want to?
Some of the missions unlock a variety of vehicles such as bikes and cars, but they control appallingly to start with and there is little performance differences between each model anyway. Planet 51: The Game is an open world adventure and so the vehicles are required most of the time to go from A to B just like in Grand Theft Auto. But unlike in GTA, this process drags on and on, lacks any satisfaction, and the missions at the end are anti-climatic anyway.
Another element of the game that really has taken inspiration from the Grand Theft Auto series is the fact that you can just jump into people’s cars without asking first. But what is really strange in this game is that the drivers don’t seem to care that they have been shoved into the passenger seat and they simply allow you to take them wherever you jolly well please. And then once you get out of the car, they’ll just get back behind the wheel and drive away.
Fortunately this feature does actually improve the game overall as you really wouldn’t want to be walking for very long and the comments that the owners give to you while you drive them can sometimes be a little humorous.
If you want to drive one of the vehicles that you have actually unlocked along the way, the developers have added vehicle dispensers on every street so you can easily switch between your car collection. Additionally, if you participate in a lot of road rage, you may find that your vehicle gets easily damaged and so there are plenty of vehicle repairers dotted around that you just need to drive over to fix all the dents and scratches.
For today’s standards, the graphics aren’t much to brag about regretfully and the animation is incredibly basic. Unfortunately, they even failed terribly at getting the lips to mildly synchronise with the dialogue. Having said that, the developers have added a very small amount of visually pleasing cut scenes that were actually taken from the feature film. This addition is a pleasant surprise but it does prompt you to ask yourself why you aren’t watching the movie instead.
The soundtrack in this game can be described as limited. The same music can be heard over and over again from the car stereos, which can get very irritating. The voice acting is also one of the worst that we have heard for a long time.
When you first start up the game, you are forced to install it and this takes up over 3GB of space. So you would think that it would help avoid a lot of loading. Sadly, this is not the case as the game constantly takes you to a loading screen after almost every action which makes us as players feel very frustrated and really test are patience.
This game has a few bugs too. Even in the opening scene, there are a couple of aliens having a conversation that has been stuck on repeat: “They’re going to build a mall on the edge of the dessert,” says one. “I don’t believe it!” says the other.
There are constant graphical glitches too such as framerate drop outs that can make the game feel unready for human or even alien consumption. And we don’t expect these problems to ever get fixed since this is not a major title anyway.
The main game is very short-lived and so the developers Pyro Studios decided to add in something extra. If you’re into your multiplayer then you may be interested to know that this title does offer this to you, but sadly it’s awfully basic. Planet 51: The Game delivers local two player gameplay where you can compete in three different modes with a choice of vehicles and characters. The first one is a standard race, while “Car Crusher” involves destroying your friend’s car by crashing into them, and the third entitled “Hot Bombs” is where you pass the bomb to the opponent before it blows.
You can also play in championships too, involve other enemies and police, and unlock additional characters and vehicles from the main campaign. Sadly though it feels rushed out at the last minute and it certainly won’t get you excited for very long or fill up your entertainment metre.
Overall this game is filled with many problems. Despite the touch of humour, the plot is dire, the missions are boring and short, there is nothing very rewarding from progressing through the game, and most of the time it makes you forget what fun actually is.
So in response to the question that we asked at the beginning of this review, this title certainly does not buck the trend of movie-based games and in fact only brings the reputation of these types of titles even further downhill.
We do not recommend this game to anyone, unless you want to buy it for someone you really hate. Otherwise, avoid at all costs!