Rango (Xbox 360) Review
Random But Welcomed
Like all animated kid based movies, Rango the videogame is part of the marketing effort behind the full length feature film. But unlike most movie games, Rango is quite an unexpected and random surprise.
In many ways, Rango is a typical 3rd person action adventure built around minor platforming and puzzle solving and with both melee and gun combat. On the other hand, Rango contains many unique features that really make this title stand out from other movie games.
One of the more unique features of this game is the plotline. You play as Rango, a gun slinging lizard who happens to be the sheriff of Dirt, a broken down city in the middle of a barren desert. Given the scenario of the environment and anthropomorphic lizard protagonist, I was shocked to learn that the game?s plotline revolved around finding meteorites, fighting off zombies, and traveling into space via alien spacecraft instead of a typical hunting down bandits and quick finger duals at sundown story arc.
Besides the leftfield storyline, the game?s environments and level design deserve some recognition. Right when the player starts to grow weary of sandy desert surroundings, the game throws new things at the players like a high speed chase on a speeding train and a Mister Mosquito-type stage where the ?tiny? player is trying to avoid a ?giant? human. But the biggest kicker comes from the game?s final two levels. Out of nowhere, Rango travels into an arcade machine and ventures through an 8-bit maze before traveling to an alien spaceship for the game?s conclusion. Again, who knew that a lizard movie game would be so random?
Unfortunately, there is a downside to all this randomness. Before each stage starts, cutscenes set the mood for the coming stage. However, this makes the story more difficult to follow as there are gaping plot holes; Rango basically jumps from one stage to the other without any particular rhyme or reason. This ?just go with it? attitude results in some diverse level designs but might cause players to scratch their heads when it comes to understanding the details of the plot.
Rango has gameplay similar to any God Of War game. From a third person perspective, the ultimate goal is to get from Point A to Point B but with platforming, puzzle solving, and combat in-between. Double jumping, hitting switches, pushing boxes, clinging to walls ? it?s all here. Combat, also simple in design, is easy to execute especially for a kid?s game but is also pleasantly rewarding. Every time you defeat an enemy, smash a crate, shoot a bullseye, or pretty much do anything else, the game rewards the player with tons of sheriff stars, the game?s form of currency. In fact, there are so many sheriff stars to collect and crates to smash, the game should have been titled ?Rango: The Crate Smasher and Star Collector.? And when there are stacks of crates or when the game becomes more combat heavy in the later levels, there are times when the entire screen will be filled with sheriff stars; think of Sonic when he loses all his rings.
But even though the game constantly throws these stars at the player, having enough to buy all the upgrades on your first play through is practically impossible. Like the creepy mercenary dude in Resident Evil 4, an Indian-trader will be sporadically placed in convenient parts of the stage to upgrade Rango?s abilities. Using the sheriff stars as currency, the player can upgrade many abilities like increasing the amount of sheriff stars that appear when enemies are defeated, increasing Rango?s health bar, holding more ammo, reloading faster, etc. Because there are many things to upgrade at a high star-price, collecting sheriff stars is a great incentive to keep the player playing and to keep the player playing more efficiently. If you string together higher hit combos, more stars are rewarded to the player.
While Rango is one of the better movie based games in recent history, it is not without its flaws and most of them are technical. The biggest error with this game comes from the invert look feature. Like flying a plane, I am one of those users that wants up to go down and down to go up when I move the analog stick. Although there in an option in the options menu to invert both the X and Y axis, this option does not apply during the game?s many racing and control-the-bullet scenes. Not applying the options to these modes essentially has the game lying to the player and makes them exceeding frustrating to play. Not testing the invert option during the game?s development is one major oversight. Also, the game locked up on me and a few other bugs popped up from time to time. This was not enough to make the game unplayable, but is annoying nonetheless.
The game also has plenty of camera issues. At times, combat and platforming can be much more difficult than it needs to be due to unresponsive and floaty camera controls. Rango is also a short game. I was able to finish the entire game in about six hours, but there is some replay in finding all the game?s fishbowl secrets and leveling out Rango to the max. There is also no multiplayer mode or online leaderboard functionality making this game strictly a single player experience. And after a few hours in, some players might start to become a bit tired of fighting the same enemies over and over, especially since animations repeat even during cutscenes. For the most part, the graphics are decent and work well with the high presentation values of the animated film, but some graphical aspects, like the fire effects and some clipping issues, are of lower quality. But the 1920?s moving-picture aesthetic and voice acting does create a more unique atmosphere.
Rango is definitely not a bad game and is much more entertaining than previous movie titles such as How To Train Your Dragon and Monsters Vs Aliens. For $50, the price is a little high but could make for a great weekend rental for your young one (and a free child?s movie ticket to see the movie comes with purchase of the game). And adults might even want to check this game out as most of the game?s Achievements can be unlocked in a single play through. If anything, Rango?s highly unexpected leftfield randomness winds up being one of the game?s biggest highlights.
Not As Good As: Aladdin (SNES), GoldenEye (N64)
On Par With: Kung-Fu Panda
Wait For It: the next Pixar movie
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