Toys-to-life was a genre that started a few years ago thanks to Activision's Skylanders series.
It was basically a title where you can buy physical toys at the store and these will give you extra characters or power-ups that you can use in the game itself. Thanks to the popularity of this format, other companies chimed in with their own toys that interacted with actual video games.
You may remember lots of toys were stocked in retailers for Disney Infinity and not too long ago we also saw many LEGO Dimensions toys too. Sadly however, the toys-to-life genre slowly died out because parents and young kids were not able to afford all of the expensive figures that you had to buy to get the most enjoyment out of these games.
With that being said, it's interesting Ubisoft wants to revive the genre by releasing its own version of these games called Starlink: Battle for Atlas. The starter pack costs around $119.99 and it comes with the game itself, a character, two weapons and also a starship.
PS4 and Xbox One owners get a default character and ship while Nintendo Switch owners are lucky because they get Starfox content!
Sadly, I do not own a Nintendo Switch yet so I only reviewed the PS4 version of this game. While the entire game of Starlink: Battle for Atlas is playable just with the starter pack alone, there are optional extra toys that you can buy to make the game more enjoyable.
These include $59.99 ships, $17.99 characters and $29.99 duo weapon packs.
If you want another player to join via split-screen co-op, an additional controller mount goes for a price of $39.99 NZD. It goes without saying that if you want to most out of this game; it's going to cost you a lot of money. However, buying the toys is actually optional because there is a digital version of the game where you can buy the extra things without the need of the toys. Digital starships cost half the price at $29.95 whereas extra characters go for a price of $8.95. Sure it's more affordable than getting all of the physical toys, but it's still a lot of extra money you have to spend on top of the $119.99 you already paid for the starter pack. If you don't have a lot of disposable income to spend, I'd say it's best to avoid this game.
It's almost like you are paying for DLC just to increase your selection of characters and starships that you want to be. Sure it's fun to collect everything, but you will have to watch out for your budget! Outside of collecting all of the toys/ships, the game itself is enjoyable because it's like No Man's Sky but with a proper story and objectives for you to do.
I never liked playing No Man's Sky because I got bored of the directionless missions and lack of action gameplay.
Here in Starlink: Battle for Atlas, you play as a host other characters who are exploring the galaxy thanks to their ship called the Equinox.
However, their expedition goes sour once an evil alien starlord named Grax kidnaps one of their own in order to make his own mark on the universe.
Now it's up to you to try and save both your friend and the entire universe. What I like most about the game is that you have the freedom to explore this vast solar system.
Much like in No Man's Sky, you are free to explore entire planets and fly up into the vastness of open space.
The planets all have different climates and animals for you to see as well.
Space battles are also a big part of the game as outlaws usually want to steal your ship. Graphically, Starlink: Battle for Atlas looks excellent thanks to Ubisoft using the Snowdrop engine.
This is the same game engine that Ubisoft has used on The Division and the end results are stunning.
It looks majestic being able to visit planets from another galaxy and simply exploring the dark areas of open space. Control-wise, there are two modes to this game.
First you can fly high thanks to your starship, but then your vehicle acts like a tank whenever it lands on a planet.
Pilots never step out of their vehicles so it plays like Starfox game where you are stuck inside your starship at all times. Even though it can be fun riding in a spaceship all of the time, sadly the gameplay can get tiresome and very repetitive.
Much like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Ubisoft again makes you do lots of boring fetch quests before you can carry on and continue the main story quests. Marvel's Spider-Man allowed players to continue the main storyline without needing to do lots of irrelevant side-quests.
It's a bit of a shame because it almost feels like Ubisoft is padding out the longevity of the game in order for the campaign to reach over 10 hours long. If the missions weren't so repetitive, I might have enjoyed this game more than I actually did.
Everything else about the game is solid as the controls are easy to master and the graphics are decent.
However, the price of Starlink: Battle for Atlas will scare some people since you need to purchase additional extra content to fully unlock what this game has to offer. Verdict: 7.0/10