If you’re even remotely interested in movies these days, you’ve likely heard of Rango. It’s the latest CG film to grace the silver screen and it’s done so with smashing success. It’s already grossed over $200 million worldwide and will no doubt continue that success when it hits DVD and blu-ray. But, as the old saying goes, for every good movie out there, there’s a crappy video game iteration. Ok, so that’s not a saying, we just made that up; but it sure seems like it holds true, doesn’t it? So the question is, did the Rango video game become another one of those stale movie-games that is sure to soon hit the bargain bin, or does it stand on its own two feet?
The plot in the Rango video game does not follow the same plot of the movie. Not at all, actually, but it does include a lot of the same characters. Mainly, Rango himself, as well as his female counterpart, Beans. In the movie, it’s made known that Beans’ father is no longer around but it neglects to detail what happened to him. In the game, Rango is hot on the case after a trail of small meteorites leads the Sheriff of Dirt to believe that Beans’ father is somehow connected to them.
Overall, the game handles pretty well. You’re given a surprisingly large amount of different game mechanics to work with and, along with the varied level design, the game never really becomes stale during any of the 9 main missions. Melee combat is what we used the most and although it’s shallow and includes only a handful of moves, it was comfortable to use and easy to pick up. You can get by simply mashing buttons or you can take a bit more tactical of an approach and use the small amount of actual combos they give you. You also have a small gun that shoots kernels of corn at your enemies but the aiming system is a little sloppy and, unless you pick up one of the ammo upgrades that are scattered about, melee combat is far more effective.
However, the controls aren’t without their flaws. For starters the camera can be real pain from time to time. You play in the third person and have complete control over where you’re looking and aiming, but since your viewpoint won’t pass through textures, your viewing angle gets really tight when you’re backed in to a corner. Secondly, if you like to use an inverted control scheme, sections of this game will have you at its mercy. Most of the game gives you an option of regular or inverted controls, but there are small fragments of some levels that have you piloting a vehicle whilst trying to shoot, and it won’t invert either of the analog sticks. We got passed these sections without breaking any controllers, but it’s certainly an oversight that should’ve been rectified before launch.
The level design in Rango is perhaps the most positive offering the game has. All 9 missions had their own feel and the game never really got old, although one could argue that a 5-6 hour campaign doesn’t really give the game time to grow tiresome. There’s a healthy mix of combat, platforming, collecting sheriff stars to upgrade weapons, piloting various vehicles across treacherous terrain and there’s even a touch of golf thrown in for good measure. The look and feel of each level is also unique, particularly towards the end of the game. We ended up doing certain things and fighting certain enemies (which we won’t spoil) that we never would’ve guessed were in the game. This made for an entertaining surprise and continued enjoyment, all the way to the end credits.
Graphically, Rango is nothing to look at. Granted, when you consider that this isn’t a full price game and likely didn’t have a bloated budget, it’s acceptable, but if you’re hoping for something that looks even remotely close to the movie, you’d be wise to lower your expectations pretty drastically. Luckily, the Xbox 360 version we tested ran very well with little-to-no performance hiccups.
As far as the voice acting goes, Johnny Depp voices Rango in the game as well, and as you can imagine, he’s top notch. A couple of other actors from the movie also play their role in the game and the ones that don’t were replaced with people that fill the spot quite nicely. Bits and pieces of the movie soundtrack also make the transition but the main title track gets played a lot and you’ll likely be sick of those cute little musical Owls by the time the game’s finished.
- Successfully captures the feel of the movie
- Accessible to all kinds of gamers
- Voice acting is superb
- Varied levels and gameplay
- Couch co-op would’ve been welcome
- Camera can be frustrating at times
- Certain sections don’t support inverted controls
It’s hard to go in to a game like Rango without any expectations; after playing so many game iterations of popular movies that have failed to deliver, it’s tough not to expect similar results. Luckily, Rango, for the most part, breaks the mold. It’s short, it’s easy and it does have its niggles along the way, but it’s also charming and fun to play. And when you think about the audience a game like this is aimed towards, some of its more minor flaws suddenly don’t even seem like they’re worth mentioning.
This isn’t a game we may remember even six months from now but we certainly hope other casual game developers will look at what Rango has done here and take notes, because the developers have done a fine job crafting a game that’s not only appealing to casual gamers and fans of the movie, but is also very playable even by the core gamer’s standards.