Reviewed: March 27, 2011
Released: March 1, 2011
I never got around to seeing Rango in the theaters and by the time my review copy of the game arrived with complimentary movie pass the flick had already left town, so now I begin the unbearable and hopefully short wait for Rango to arrive on Blu-ray. Until then, I can pass the time by playing and replaying one of the most delightfully charming and witty action-platform games of this generation.|
Rango follows the adventure of a small town sheriff, Rango, a quirky chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp. The game blends traditional platforming, action, shooting, and on-rails adventures set in a land of giants. Level design is king in Rango, with each of chapters set in a wholly unique location and built from everyday scraps and bits of garbage that humans take for granted but become the building blocks of Rango’s miniature world. At times you’ll forget just how small you really are until you realize you are scaling a wall of staples or riding that roadrunner across a desert highway with cars zipping by whose tires fill your entire screen.
The game is very cinematic with gorgeous cutscenes that rival the animation from the film thanks in part to ILM’s contribution of all the character artwork and textures. This left the developers free to work on creating a fantastic adventure and challenging platform events. Collectors will have fun searching for goldfish bowls to smash and treasure mounds to mine with your trusty pickaxe. The chapter-select screen tallies your goals so you know where to go to replay and find any you might have missed.
Rango is one of those rare games that will appeal to gamers of all ages. Why I was able to knock off the game in about 6 hours, those of a more appropriate target age will find a solid 10-12 hours adventure. To be honest, I had to go back and replay a few levels to find some missing collectibles so I’m guessing I logged about 8 hours total. Levels have no checkpoints, so if you missed a pile of treasure at the end of the level you must replay that entire level. This can be an issue when you are forced to mine for collectibles during a boss fight, because once the boss is defeated the chapter abrupty ends.
Rango gets to run and jump and ride various desert creatures like a roadrunner and a bat on some slick on-rails shooting sequences. From time to time you’ll find a gold bullet that you can fire and then manually control to ricochet off numerous targets to unlock a special cinematic event. There are also some fun targeting events that let you shoot golf balls and such. There is a nice currency system that allows you to collect stars that will explode from smashed objects and fallen enemies and then spend that “money” to purchase all sorts of new moves, weapons, and upgrades. It will most likely take more than one pass through the game to maximize all of these elements.
Levels range from wandering the desert to taking a bizarre trip through a UFO conspirator’s shack, to actually getting sucked into a video game and playing some TRON-esque levels. You’ll even find yourself on an alien mother ship by the end of the game, so just be prepared for anything and everything. Rango’s non-sequitur approach to storytelling is a refreshing and original concept that will keep you on your toes, and the way Rango tells each chapter to his skeptical friends is just priceless.
Rango is one of those rare movie games that is actually good. Actually it’s fantastic! It also doesn’t require you to have seen the film or know anything about these characters. Rango is just as charming as Gex or Abe (from Oddworld) and he stars in one of the best action-platformers of this generation. If you have kids or just want to feel like one for a couple days, Rango is a must-own title.