By this point you've probably either seen or heard of the hit computer animated film Rango that recently hit theaters. It's been a smash with adults and children alike, albeit for different reasons, and has made its way over to your home consoles for your enjoyment. But is Rango just another disappointing movie game or does it rise about and become something more?
You obviously play the titular Rango as the sheriff in the town of Dirt, attempting to bring justice to those who have never seen it. Now this game doesn't follow the movie plot essentially, which I had to look up just because I haven't seen the movie, which is probably a good thing. There have been enough games out there over the years that followed that formula to a T and come out far worse for it. Credit the developers of Rango for putting in the effort to try to make something of their game.
Now the Wii version, as expected, isn't as deep as the 360 and PS3 consoles' versions. The graphical power is obviously lacking and the gameplay isn't as smooth because of the integration of the Wii controls. But Rango the game isn't intended for the hardcore audience out there. If you go in expecting a gameplay experience comparable to Mass Effect or Fallout you're going to be sadly mistaken. This is a movie game and you probably shouldn't have had any expectations going in. I know I didn't.
And that's why this game surprised me. The graphics are surprisingly crisp for a Wii game. After just seeing the underwhelming visuals of Tiger Woods 12: The Masters, Rango was definitely a sight for sore eyes. Granted it doesn't look as clean as the actual movie but that would just be asking too much. The cut scenes are closer to that quality, where it can all be prerendered, but even the gameplay visuals don't fall off very much at all. Sure it doesn't look as pretty as the 360/PS3 versions but if you were expecting that you're playing on the wrong system.
The storyline is pretty incoherent. It's something about finding stones that the bad guys have stolen after your partner comes in with one and then seems to vaporize once Rango opens the box. And no Rango isn't phased by this. In fact, he makes it his business to go around opening more yet nobody else disappears. Maybe I just missed that part of the story but it seemed a little strange to me. Anyway, you have to go steal them from the bad guys so they don't use the stones that crashed in a crater in the opening scene for whatever bad work they'd do whether it's poisoning the water supply or taking down the Hoover Dam. Whatever they have up their sleeve is tied into these stones from outer space.
The gameplay is surprisingly varied throughout. There are typical platforming levels, as you'd expect, parts where you basically get to surf down highly elevated surfaces, running gun battles, rides on moving trains and much more. This is more than you're going to find in most movie games and was a big surprise especially after the first level seems like a very cliche 3D platforming title.
The only problem I had with the gameplay is that on the Wii, when you find a group of bad guys, the flow stops. You have to stop and the game basically changes to a shooting gallery where you have to aim the Wii-mote at the screen to shoot the bad guys. It seems like a cut scene where you don't do anything but aim. You can't move Rango. Sometimes you have the option to take cover but that's very rare. And when it is there, the cover usually gets blown to smithereens. It's just a slowdown of gameplay. There's no actual problem with it but I would have thought that the developers could have found another way so the flow of gameplay isn't interrupted by having to have a special screen for the Wii-mote sight. As in most games, there should be a way for it to be integrated into the normal gameplay. But it's only a minor gripe.
Rango isn't going to win any awards for innovation or going to set the world on fire but it all depends on what kind of expectations you go in with. If you're expecting a great movie game, the first on in a while, then this isn't going to be your game. What you're getting is a solid platformer with many different styles of gameplay. Is it a little linear? Yeah but Rango isn't breaking new ground. It's putting a Rango spin on many different kinds of gameplay and sometimes that's all you need to do.