Toy Story 2 was my first ever experience of the cinema. The imaginative young boy that I was dreamt for years afterwards of being in that world, going on adventures with a cast of characters I knew back then as friends. Woody, Buzz and Jessie - they were all there. One particular moment that has always resonated with me was the opening sequence of the film, which involves Buzz Lightyear raiding his arch-nemesis Zurg's base. It's quickly revealed that the whole episode is in fact a video game, played by a frustrated toy dinosaur called Rex, who constantly fails to complete the challenge. It was a scene I would always rewatch, rewinding the VHS tape to the point of death, and I always challenged myself to tackle that gauntlet if it ever came to fruition. Toy Story 3 finally allowed me to do that.
Before the birth of Disney Infinity, developer Avalanche Studios worked closely with Disney to create a plethora of movie tie-ins, ranging from passable to marginally above average. Then Toy Story 3 came out and showcased the team's talents in creating a truly vibrant representation of Disney worlds with an admirable sense of confidence.
It's that confidence that confirms Toy Story 3 is a superb Double-A game. Right at the start, a stellar action-oriented set-piece places you on the back of Woody's horse Bullseye, as you ride into a sea of explosions and gorgeously animated environments. It's wonderful - but the best is yet to come.
Outside of the eight central platforming missions (including an incredibly detailed recreation of my childhood dream level at Zurg's base) there's a much more interesting component to the game. Toy Box mode! Toy Box mode provides the true hook for players, and is also a precursor to Disney Infinity.
In fact, Toy Box mode acts very much like the level packs found in Disney Infinity - it offers small, open worlds to explore, and it allows you to get creative as you complete missions and build your very own playmat of adventures. It's a means of allowing you to feel like Andy from the films - a child with a variety of toys which he loves and uses to fuel his own imagination. For the first time since I was a child, I finally felt as though I was on an adventure with my friends. I completed missions for my favourite characters and ventured into a spooky haunted house that I constructed myself. It all builds a lovely feeling of progression, too, as the world around you constantly grows and takes shape.
Most importantly though, it works at just being pure, innocent fun.
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