Rango: The Video Game hands-on preview

It's fairly rare that movie games catch us by surprise. It's even rarer that they keep surprising us, level after level. Rango manages to pullit offas one of the few movie tie-ins to offer a variety of environments and gameplay.

Due to the fact that it's based on the upcoming animated film starring Johnny Depp, Rango The Video Game is obviously aimed at folks of the younger variety, and the gameplay mirrors that. It's your basic third person combat platformer with tons of collectibles, simplified a bit from the likes of Jak and Daxter or Ratchet & Clank. Players spend their time fighting off groups of enemy Western-style critters and collecting whatever loot they can find, ranging from Sheriff Stars that can be spent black market style on various upgrades to Rango's arsenal to buddies trapped in fishbowls.

Of course, Rango isn't only about mashing the attack button and listening to the quips of Rango and his enemies (even though they are pretty entertaining). The world is an extension of the areas seen in the movie, allowing for fans to check out the world they enjoyed in the film. This allows for the game to take players to vastly different environments, from a night time level where Rango hops on the back of a bat to fly around to the bizarre 3D pixelated world of the inside of an arcade game. And that's just within the three levels of our preview.

This variety is what kept Rango fresh and consistently surprising for us. Whether we were taking down on invading zombies with exploding golf balls, grinding Sonic-style down a series of pipes, or exploring a crazy 8-bit style world, it all felt fairly fresh and interesting. Going in, we were certainly expecting to have to drudge through the same old desert levels over and over again, but we were very pleasantly surprised.

It's certainly obvious that Rango The Video Game is based on a high-budget animated film, and while many would jump at the opportunity to mark it down for that fact, in this case, it definitely benefits from the high-budget feel. Rango has a very specific and interesting look, and this adaptation stays true to the look of the film. The character and level design don't feel rushed, giving the game a feel of legitimacy and love that movie games tend to lack.

So is Rango going to change the way we play games? Probably not. Does it bring new and great innovation to the table? Nope. But is it a solid 3D platformer that just happens to be based on a movie? It sure is.

Feb 22, 2011

Taylor Cocke is a Los Angeles-based writer and producer who spends too much time watching numbers go up in MMOs and ARPGs. You name it, he's written and/or produced for them, which is shocking considering the aforementioned MMO playing.