Review – Planet 51 [Wii]

Posted: February 24, 2012 in Reviews, Wii

For those unaware, Planet 51 was a recently released CGI-movie which turns the little green men invading Earth on its head. Instead we end up landing on their planet… Well, one human called Charles ‘Chuck’ Baker (and his Wall-E inspired robot friend Rover) lands there and is regarded as the destructor of the planet. Hilarity ensues (I assume)…

Now, it is often regarded that many games based on movies aren’t that great, does this follow the trend? Simply put – Yes. You start off as alien Lem, who is controlled by holding the Wii Remote on its side. The camera is moved by tilting the remote left and right and you are expected to walk around a 3D city using the D-pad, a tiresome exercise. With the existence of the nunchuk and the analogue stick that accompanies it, it’s a mystery as to why Sega ignored it. The answer most likely lies within its fascination with vehicle usage. The game takes place in the city of Glipford (mimicking the setting of 1950’s America), which seems like a Grand Theft Auto city for kids. As such it is necessary to get yourself from A to B with one of the forms of transport on offer, which range from varied bikes, cars and vans, as running there would take too long. These are controlled by holding the 2 button to accelerate and tilting the remote to turn and flicking the remote to jump, similar to Mario Kart Wii. The difference though is the vehicles are a lot easier to control in Mario Kart. From the unresponsive to the overly sensitive vehicles on offer on Planet 51, the only thing in common is the frustration you will feel.

The game follows the plot of the movie very loosely. In fact, if you haven’t seen the movie, little will make sense as the game does nothing to try and educate you as to the plot. The majority of the game sees you, as Lem, completing tasks ranging from delivering papers, racing other aliens, giving your mum a lift and collecting balloons whilst the alien who lost them stands around doing nothing to help. All are preceded by 5-10 seconds loading time. Basically every mission revolves around getting from A to B in a vehicle and you’re then told to go see someone else who needs help halfway across the city. This new person then asks you for help, which is basically another A to B mission, which may involve checkpoints for variety. There are a few exceptions to this, such as a destruction derby type mission, which involves ramming the enemy car before they ram you into submission. Thankfully the game saves itself after each mission giving you hope you won’t have to face that mission again for awhile, until you find the next mission is an exact copy, just using a different car and/or bike. After using these vehicles, they become unlocked to use for future usage. Additionally the option to “hijack” civilians’ cars is possible. You jump in their car, and strangely the driver seems to have no problem with you taking control of them for your own driving needs.

Missions and the travelling to them are broken up by cutscenes in a pale attempt to give logic in Lem going back and forth around the city doing everyone’s bidding. These involve voice acting which has mouths that don’t match up to what is being said at all. I’m not even sure the voice actors from the movie are even used in this game. Former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson voices Chuck in the movie, but Chuck in the game, from what little I’ve heard him say sounds nothing like the People’s Champion. My ears could be deceiving me though.

Graphics are alright and sometimes smooth, but aren’t up the usual Wii standards at all, the draw distance not being that great either, leading you to run into objects which suddenly appear and offer no chance of swerving out of the way. Music follows a nice 1950s vibe as you travel around, but is so forgettable you’ll hardly start noticing it. Accompanying this is some delightful vocal sounds from the towns people every now and then, but the majority of that you’ll hear in the game is the police saying you’re causing a riot when you bump slightly in the back of a car, and then saying they’ve lost you and should return to the station, when you’re only a few feet away and still in view. The city of Glipford is fairly sizeable and you will never get lost, as a compass is always visible on-screen showing you where to go next. Cars are always on the road and people are out and about walking the streets which includes the law, making sure you take your transport a little more seriously. In true GTA style, should you almost run over a pedestrian, run into a car (which is very possible since they all drive so slow) or knock over a fire hydrant whilst a cop car is around, you will get a star rating and they will chase you, forcing you to restart your current mission or take you to the police station should they catch you. It is possible to lose them though. Cause more mischief however and the star rating increases, meaning you may have the military to deal with.

Later you are given a break from Lem and put in control of Rover, traversing through some form of obstacle course with the mission of collecting rocks. This is hampered by the camera focusing on Rover too much, making seeing where you’re trying to go all the more difficult as he takes up too much of the screen, further made annoying by only being able to use the D-pad to navigate. A multiplayer feature is available offering two-players the opportunity to race, ram into one another, ‘Hot-Bomb’ (a hot potato style game) and ‘Push and Win’, which is basically a point gathering exercise.

All-in-all, it’s simply not a fun game. Take out the potential danger of the police and it’s a pure “drive here” and “drive back where you just been, but on a bike” then “now drive this car back over there please”. Add the law back in and it’s the same as above, just “drive slower”. You can tell it’s aimed at the younger generation, but I can only see them becoming even more frustrated and bored as I have. Avoid.

Gameplay 2/5
Playability 2/5
Sound 3/5
Graphics 4/5
Lifespan 2/5

A] Lots of vehicles to unlock

A] Annoyingly frustrating
B] Terrible controls
C] Awful camera
D] No variety in the missions



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