As someone who’s reviewed games for 16 years, and has seen both the sublime and games (to quote Good Morning Vietnam) “lower than a snake’s arse in a wagon rut”, it’s hard not to prejudge when it comes to reviewing a game based on a movie.
So many times we have kept open-minds and held high hopes, and so many times we have been ripped off. But every now and then the developers get it right and make a game that manages to rise above ‘cash-in’ status.
Often those that succeed are games that don’t try to follow the script of the movie itself and instead base a separate game around the theme and characters provided.
Rango is one of these games.
Rango, the game, takes place after the events of the movie and sees a meteorite land in the ranch owned by Beans’ father. Rango arrives back in town and believes that the meteorite might explain the mysterious disappearance of Beans’ father. So Rango sets out to gather up all the meteorites that are appearing in the town of Dirt, the problem is – Bad Bill and his motley gang of thugs are intent on collecting them for themselves. And so the scene is set for your run of the mill action/shooter/platformer.
That’s not to say Rango is average, because it’s better than that. In fact, it’s very well made. Gameplay-wise it’s similar to Ratchet & Clank, but the game it reminds me most of is an extremely underrated PS2 game called Scaler, in my opinion one of the best PS2 games that nobody played.
As Rango runs through levels in search of meteorites, he has a standard set of melee attacks – punches, tail-whips, charges and ground stomps. Then there is your pistol with unlimited ammunition that can earn limited power-ups like shotgun blasts, rapid fire and one where you can launch firecrackers at enemies.
While there are a few instances where you must use your pistol, like guiding a bullet to multiple targets, the game doesn’t dictate combat one way or the other; you can melee or shoot your way through the game. Like Ratchet & Clank, the best solution is to mix up your attacks to prevent boredom.
The game balances the types of gameplay well too. While it’s primarily an action shooter, there are platform elements than include wall-climbs and jumping. Some of these are frustrating, but with infinite lives it’s not an issue,
There are rail slides and levels where you ride a flying bat and a roadrunner while shooting at passing enemies. Throw in a touch of puzzle solving and you have a pretty well rounded game.
The graphics are a real standout in the game, with some great detail showing in the Old West surroundings as well as Rango himself. His bumpy, rough skin is rendered well, even in general gameplay. The soundtrack is apt and non-intrusive so it was nice not to have to delve into the menus and turn the music off. The random appearances of the mariachi swallows provided some great comic relief too.
Speaking of humour, the script is brilliant with the one-liners coming thick and fast. You won’t find any big names in the voice acting though, there’s no Johnny Depp or Abigail Breslin but the replacements are so good that you wouldn’t actually know until the end credits start rolling.
The only place where Rango falls short is in the difficulty and the length. Even if it was being marketed to the younger gamers, they wouldn’t have too many issues with breezing through the game on the hardest difficulty. With infinite lives, health and power-ups everywhere, the game is just too easy. Even on hard, there is only four or five hours gameplay for seasoned platformer fans and the only incentive to start the game up again is for Trophies or Achievements as all of the unlockables are earned after level completion.
Rango is a quality example of it’s genre and up there with the best movie-game conversions, but with only four hours from A to Z is only really worth a weekend hire.