Very rarely does a game based on a movie turn out to be good. Most of the time the graphics are atrocious, the gameplay is stagnant, and the game itself should’ve been scrapped. EA’s latest offering, Rango: The Video Game, is the exact opposite of that and gave me, hands down, one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Rango: The Video Game, while based on the characters in the recently released film, covers a completely different storyline involving Beans, her father, and these mysterious chunks of meteorite. Each “chapter” is broken into a story which Rango narrates to the rest of the residents of Dirt, where Rango is sheriff, telling of how he came upon another piece of glowing space rock. Throughout most of the game the antagonist is Bad Bill, but things quickly change and then the story and game become really trippy and awesome.
The beginning of the game does a great job setting up the overall tone of everything, and also shows the player how to move Rango around throughout the desert terrain. Rango can double jump, climb, rail slide, crouch, roll, and much more. By allowing Rango to have so many movements it really makes the gameplay shine and become something so incredibly enjoyable. One time I found myself playing until 4 in the morning! Initially I was worried how the climbing and platforming would work, as that has a tendency to make or break a game, but it’s apparent that a lot of thought went into it. If I had to compare those movements to some mainstream titles, I’d say that Assassin’s Creed and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow are two excellent examples.
Graphically the game is gorgeous. The cut scenes are absolutely fantastic, and I never experienced any problems in-game. When my husband played, he did come across one section where he fell through the level, but the game has frequent checkpoints so it really wasn’t a big deal. Rango’s movements are incredibly fluid, and you can see that a lot of detail went into creating him. The way his eyes dart back and forth, his mouth movements when he speaks, and the scales that adorn his body – everything is perfect. What helps drive home the western tone of the game is the fantastic soundtrack. Throughout the game the soundtrack is a driving force and really makes one feel as if they are in a western wonderland. The owl mariachi band that reoccurred in various points of each level made me giggle and was a nice touch.
There were a ton of obvious nods to Johnny Depp’s past work as an actor, like how Lars looks like Hunter S. Thompson, a character Depp portrayed in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (a superb movie by the way). There is even an achievement that’s a direct quote from Fear and Loathing, “This is Bat Country!” I’ve read that, in the movie, many other references are made so it’s nice that, while both the movie and game are meant to be family friendly, there is something for the adults to enjoy and laugh at. For the parents who are a bit more strict as to what kind of language their little ones are privy to, there is the usage of the word “hell” in the game, but there isn’t anything else in there that could be considered questionable and it’s not something that reoccurs frequently.
Another thing I really liked was the ability to level up Rango. If you smash open a crate, mine, or defeat an enemy sheriff stars drop and those are the games currency. How you spend your points all depends on the type of character you want Rango to be. You can beef up his gun or you can go for boosting his melee attacks. To purchase these upgrades one has to talk to Wounded Bird, who appears at different points in the game. Each section to upgrade has three levels, and as you do so, the amount of sheriff stars needed increases. What’s great is, if you beat the game on Easy or Normal and want to go through the game again on a harder difficulty, you can simply continue your game and you will start at the beginning with Rango leveled up to the way you had him at the end of your previous playthrough. Having that function is a smart addition, especially for children who end up playing the game, because not all will be able to handle the harder difficulties with a default Rango. It’s also nice if you want to fully max out Rango and go through the entire game owning everything that crosses your path.
Aside from the times that you run around as Rango, you also get to ride on his trusty steed, Excelsior, a bat, and Mr. Timms, a Tic-Tac orange wind up fish. I absolutely loved the moments where I got to charge around on a mount because it was so much fun. Sometimes it was difficult to control my reticle and also keep track of where I was going, because you are moving at a fast pace, but I still had a blast. Had they put in a mini-game or something you could access on the side that allowed you to do roadrunner racing or something of that nature, I don’t think I’d ever turn off my console.
Unfortunately there were a few negatives to Rango, but they were few and nothing large enough to make me say to you all, “don’t pick up a copy of this game.” The first thing is that I would’ve liked to have seen some form of local multiplayer. While I’m not too sure how that would’ve worked out, like if player 2 took on the role of Beans or someone else, but Rango is the kind of game I’d want to play with my daughter at the same time. I’m sure there are other parents out there who are always looking for something they can do with their children, especially gaming, so Rango would’ve been perfect. Second is the fact that, even if you’ve already played through the game, you cannot skip cut scenes. I could understand if one was playing through the game for the first time, but if you die or are starting a second or third playthrough, the game should recognize that and allow you to skip with the A or B button. The third negative is that the game was short. To be honest, I could’ve played Rango for close to 20 hours and been perfectly fine with it. The 6-8 hours I spent with it wasn’t enough and I wanted more, which is a good thing for the team at Behaviour Interactive.
All in all, I loved every second of Rango: The Video Game. It’s what a game should be, and what more should strive for. There are fun unlockables like character bios, artwork, and alternate outfits; the characters are lively and fun; the gameplay is fresh, engaging, and accessible for all age groups; and one can’t deny the fact that the soundtrack is truly superb. For PS3 and 360 owners, the game retails for only $49.99 and if you haven’t seen the movie yet and have a little one, the game comes with a voucher to get a free children’s movie ticket. Wii owners can pick up a copy for $39.99, and those wanting to take their Rango experience on the go can get the DS version for $29.99.
For more information on Rango: The Video Game, check out the games official website.