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OverviewYaris was an advertisement game made to promote the Toyota Yaris on Xbox Live Arcade. The game was released for free in October of 2007, and was removed completely from the Xbox Live Service on November 4th, 2008 after Microsoft's licensing deal with Toyota expired.
StoryThe world, as we know it, has ended. What was the cause? Mass starvation and infrastructure collapse due to peak oil? All out nuclear war, biological disaster, something horrible that we haven't yet conceived of, international terrorism, alien invasion? Who knows and who cares. All that's left of the sensible world we have lived in up until now are you, bizarre skate park-like, largely vertical freeways that wrap around themselves like moebius loops, big fat lucidores that drive scooters and garbage trucks and, of course, your Toyota Yaris equipped with a factory optional hood mounted gun wielding tentacle. Being the only man left alive who isn't a big fat lucidore, and having the only running vehicle, that isn't a scooter or a garbage truck, your mission is clear: continue to drive to work in the morning to fulfill your duties to your employer, and in so doing the rest of humanity, who are all presumably dead. Each stage of the commute is a horror worse than the last. The traffic getting progressively thicker and more aggressive while the road becomes increasingly sharper and more narrow. Traffic, in the future, consists of a number of interesting entities which will be covered in greater depth later. It is enough to know now that they all have it in for you and that your insurance policy has been canceled on account of GLOBAL CATASTROPHE. Guardians of parking structures in this future world are not feeble, striped planks, but giant robot spiders. Fittingly that's the last thing you have to blow up before your daily drive comes to an end. On the way to work you can also shoot the mutant creatures populating this nightmare world in order to steal their money. This is good because it allows you purchase steel reinforcement and new paint jobs and wheels for your Yaris. Of course, the only thing you can spend that money on is your Yaris. This is the end of humanity. Not awesome Mad Max Cameros, but a pimped out Yaris.
GameplayBear in mind that Yaris is a vision of prophecy meant to hone the skills of the driver of The Yaris for the dark day's commute ahead first and a game second. If playing Yaris doesn't seem like fun it's because life is not a game. If Yaris seems needlessly difficult, unrewarding and unpolished it because real life is needlessly difficult, unrewarding and unpolished. The grim future of the Yaris driver will be doubly so. That being said, Yaris plays kind of like any other rail shooter ever made with the caveat that in addition to aiming the gun, you also have to control the thing that carries the gun. You're also not flying around, but trying to nurse your Yaris down the stretch of "The 101" that was designed by M.C. Escher. It could've been a bad-assed mutant dragon in a land filled with mountains and caves and people that speak made-up languages. Or it could've been a rocket belt in a world,..well, it could've been Panzer Dragoon or Space Harrier or Rez. It's not, it's a Yaris enduring the commute of the future. At least the gun is basically autoaiming. Other than the overwhelming general lack of quality, this is probably the first thing that throws people off when they're playing Yaris. You -really- have to focus on driving the car. In a game that strives for realism, at least strict accordance with the reality of THE FUTURE, the most realistic feature is the Yaris' lack of acceleration. The second most realistic is the Yaris' inability to survive multiple collisions with anything. If you continually hit, or are hit by things your car will blow up, quickly. And once again, you are uninsured. Fortunately shooting things down, in addition to surviving, doesn't take as much focus as one would expect. If you move the reticule over an enemy it locks on. At least that's what it's supposed to do, I think. It doesn't really matter as no matter what weapon your Yaris is equipped with it does basically null damage to anything but your least significant foes.
With a little bit of balancing this could have been a novel take on what has historically been an enjoyable kind of game. It's hard to make a bad rail-shooter evidenced by the fact that there aren't that many out there. Star X is the only one I can think of. Adding a driving element balanced out by an autolocking aiming system should have made for a great game. That it didn't, I take as proof of the designer's deliberate efforts not to make a game, per se, but to give us a simulation.
Yaris received mostly negative reviews,gaining a score of seventeen out of a hundred on Metacritic.com. Critics cited poor gameplay mechanics and lackluster graphics and level design as key issues with the game.
Mike Flacy of Video Game Talk wrote "As the title is completely free, you should ask yourself different questions related to value. For instance, “Is the title worth the 17.5 seconds it will take to download it?” That’s a tough one. You could take out the trash in that amount of time, a much more rewarding task than playing Yaris."
In Games Radar's review of Yaris Greg Sewart said "Unfortunately, there are actually no redeeming qualities to Yaris.'