Review - Rango: The Video Game - An Imaginative Story in a Wild World on the Wii

In March of this year, Rango puzzled moviegoers everywhere with its pop culture references, slapstick humor, and inspired premise. Meanwhile, EA Games has been hard at work finishing Rango: The Video Game for the masses.

Rango, the film, is a very puzzling, albeit entertaining, piece of cinema. The movie is chock full of references and is basically a kids’ version of a Quentin Tarantino film. Luckily for gamers, Rango: The Video Game, by EA Games, is far more consistent. Blending two popular genres, it’s able to provide some solid entertainment.

Rango: The Video Game is based on the movie, but doesn’t share the exact same storyline. While it does feature many of the same characters and places from the game, the plotline is instead based on Rango’s tall tales that he tells the locals. But all of your favorite characters, from Bad Bill, to Beans, to Rattlesnake Jake are there, along with a few new ones. The stories are pretty exciting too, ranging from your standard train piece to zombies in the Wild West (which made for one of the best levels in the game!).

The first things you notice about the game are the graphics and art style. The development team has managed to just nail the look and feel of the film. The characters are textured right, the environments look appropriately gritty and lived in, and everything just seems right to fit, right down to the textures on Rango’s little gun, shooting whatever it is that it shoots. The graphics also look simply stunning, especially on the Wii, a console not exactly known for its graphics power. This is probably because Industrial Light & Magic (the special effects company that animated the film) gave the developers authentic character models from the movie to use for the game. Plus, it has been in development for about a year, which is a rarity for movie-based games, even animated ones.

Another good thing that Rango has going for it is the gameplay. It’s a mix between simple platforming and jumping, and on-the-rails shooting. I really enjoyed the platforming element, because so much of Rango’s world has been designed specifically for platforming. And while the shooting parts were fun, they tended to get a little bit repetitive after about three or four levels. I think it would have been a far better idea if the developers chose to let you use a weapon while you were running around and jumping. The game, like all others, does have a few areas for improvement. While the story is engaging and interesting, it’s fairly short and can probably be beaten in just a few hours by an experienced gamer. Additionally, there seems to be only one mode of play on the Wii version of the game. You’ve got the story mode and that’s it. No multiplayer, no mini-games, not even collectables hidden throughout the levels.

Opening those up would add a lot of replay value here, which is a shame since the game is so much fun the first time around. Also, the way it shifts between platformer and shooting is a little bit awkward at times, since you can have such a fun time exploring an environment, only to be stopped in the middle to shoot more enemies again. I really did enjoy some of the light gun segments though, especially the ones involving riding on animals. Plus, the power-ups you can obtain are really nice. The shotgun is insanely fun to use and can be really effective against certain enemies (which pretty much goes for all shotguns everywhere!).

From the moment you launch Rango: The Video Game, a gamer at any level can tell that a lot of thought and effort went in to making it. It’s not just some movie tie-in game hastily thrown together at the last minute, like so many games today seem to be. It’s exciting, looks fantastic, and is pretty fun to play and appropriate for a wide-range of players.

Thomas Fogel, posted 3/14/2011.

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