Remember all that you know about movie to game adaptations? Well, it doesn't apply here.
- Worth The Time?Considering there isn't that much of this game, yes.
- Things LovedThe jokes, the bad puns, the visuals, the level design, the fact that this is a license game that doesn't suck.
- Things HatedThe length, the objective, the challenge. Or the lack thereof.
- RecommendationI wouldn't buy this brand new, but if I saw it in a bargain bin then I wouldn't hesitate, it is a good game that is worth a try, especially for those who love light-hearted comedy in their gaming and don't mind the content being a touch on the easy side. Maybe worth a rent if you have a nearby rental agent.
- Name: Rango
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: Xbox360, PS3, NDS, Wii
- Developer: Artificial Mind and Movement, Behaviour Studios
- Publisher: Paramount Digital Entertainment, Electronic Arts
- Price: R 440
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
My first thought upon being asked to review Rango was “Wait, ‘Rango’? What the hell is that? Ooh, chocolate bunnies!” okay well, part of that is true. And I will neither confirm nor deny the existence of chocolate bunnies (keeping to the Easter theme without even realising it, here) but what I can say is that I had no idea firstly what on Earth Rango was, and more importantly, why I had to play it for review purposes. Needless to say, I was given this game around its release. Oops…
Rango is a game adaptation of the recently released movie starring Johnny Depp, of the same name. Rango, that is. Not Johnny Depp, although if there was to be a film called Johnny Depp, I’d watch it. That guy’s awesome.
Contrary to the stereotype, the fact that it is a movie-to-game adaptation, or a licensed game, rather, does not work against it. I know what you’re thinking: “Blasphemy! Heresy! Ohnoes! lol”. But really, it’s not that bad at all, even for a non licensed game. In fact to call Rango a bad game would be an outright lie, even though you would assume it was, based on its licensed nature. You can tell that developers Behaviour Studios had actual gamers in mind when they crafted this game, and indeed it is a game that even a hardcore gamer, though they’ll fly through it in a few hours, can enjoy for what it is worth.
The game kicks off with good old Rango at the local Saloon in the town of Dirt, telling the ‘Tall Tales Of Adventure’ that he so loves to tell¹ about his endeavours to retrieve a collection of meteor fragments that when put together, will free his ‘girlfriend’ Beans’ father. Or so he hopes. Yes, that’s right: The game does not follow the storyline of the movie. And this works so much in the game’s favour. Instead of the whole ‘Who am I? Why am I here? Oh, look! Conflict and proving myself!’ origin type story, the game puts you right into the shoes of the already-Sheriff Rango who has gained the trust and respect of the townsfolk who flock to listen to his stories of adventure and intrigue, and defeating baddies.
You are tasked with playing through these ‘tales’ that Rango tells and as a result, levels are all rendered as retrospective areas with dynamically changing environments as Rango tells the story (and is sometimes corrected by one of his listeners), which makes for a very interesting take on things, with some remarkable level design in places. Common human, household items feature through most of these well-designed levels and when you’re not battling enemies with either your fists and tail or your infinite-ammo pistol, you’re platforming all over the place, making your way through areas that would rival any triple-A platformer title.
How varied are the levels? Well, remembering the whole ‘Tall Tales of Adventure’ ideal, they’re pretty varied, going from a boneyard, to an abandoned mine, to a cliff face and on to more abstract settings such as the room of a human living nearby, a zombie invaded Dirt (yes, zombies), a very well rendered eight-bit graphics digi-styled level and finally an alien spaceship. There’s also neat touches everywhere, like random areas that shift the perspective into a more 2D view, making you navigate along that perspective from one point to another and then back into the usual 3D view. There are even on-rails bits in some levels where you’re riding some form of animal through an area, dodging obstacles and killing stuff, often at the same time. Gameplay is smooth all throughout and you never feel like you’re not in full control of the character.
A few other neat touches are things like ‘Golden Bullet” mode which has you guiding a, wait for it, golden bullet, through the air and into targets in order to activate something and progress further to wherever. You also get a sort of golf mode where you’re armed with a nine-iron with an explosive little bug-thing as your golf ball and tasked with using said bug-thing to get out of hairy situations that only explosive little bug-things can get you out of. Life-changing stuff, here.
There are also temporary pistol powerups that convert your trusty sidearm into a force to be reckoned with in either automatic-rifle, shotgun, or rocket-launcher form.
Throughout the game you collect Sheriff Stars which count as the game’s currency and can be acquired by doing practically anything in the game, from dispatching enemies to simply breaking crates of which there is a metric tonne, and then used to purchase upgrades offered by the ever-trusty armadillo, Roadkill. There are also collectibles on each level, in the form of little fish-tanks and mining spots, the latter of which when excavated provide either health or more sheriff stars.
Given the semi-western setting of the game, the dialogue and story are at least partially fitting of the setting, with Rango’s conversations truly hilarious at times, even in that old western cowboy accent. The story itself is good enough, with the objective per level going from the typical chase down and defeat bad guy, on to free yourself and your ‘girlfriend’ and on to truly bizarre ‘halt the zombie apocalypse’ and ‘get back to reality’ as you go on. The over-arching story of acquiring and then putting together the meteorite fragments never gets boring and you are almost impatient to see what happens next.
That’s where we lead into one of the game’s hugest (and only) downfalls. Really it’s only a downfall if you look at it in a broader perspective, because for its genre it’s not really that bad. The game will take you maybe five hours at the most on the hardest difficulty, to complete. The only thing that can prolong this game is perhaps grinding for achievements, of which there is one that will take you a while. But if not, you’re going to be able to complete this game with minimal challenge in an afternoon. There is no real difficulty here, in fact over the three difficulty settings, it seems all that changes is how much damage you take and even then it’s such a negligible difference that it barely even matters.
This isn’t as tragic as you would think, though. Remember that the game is meant to make you laugh, to immerse you in a world that is not only made up, but made up, which is to say an imagined world of an imagined world. The game aims to entertain you. And it does that splendidly well.
¹ Fans of the movie will identify, but for those who don’t know, Rango is prone to exaggerating and stretching the truth with his stories, opting to spruce up the events in question rather than speak of what really happened since what really happened is usually nowhere near as epic as his exaggerations.