RANGO Review (Xbox360)

It might be a cliché, but you don't ever really expect much from a game based on a recent film. Even if someone were to do one based on The King's Speech, it'd end up being a platform game where George VI would be bouncing off the heads of speech therapists and collecting coins with Edward VIII's face on them. Or something.

Rango then is one such game, a platformer that stars the titular lizard creature (he's a chameleon – film buff Ed) in a quest to find out what a glowing piece of green rock means to the desert town of Dirt, where he happens to be sheriff.

“Fork off!” shouted the placed gunner as Rango approached inexorably

There's also the question of locating the father of his girlfriend (I think she is) Beans, who had something to do with conveniently scattering the rocks about the place. In the way are various anthropomorphic scoundrels like Bad Bill and Rattlesnake Jake, who oversee waves of small furry fighters that will attempt to see your scaly hide buried in the ground.

You go about combating them using the ultra-traditional methods of hitting with fists, stomping with an air-to-ground smash and shooting with a rapid fire pistol or timed power-up gun. There's also a charge attack and one where you use Rango's tongue to eliminate enemies.

The actual platforming is also traditional, most obviously drawing inspiration from the 'new' Prince of Persia trilogy, with puzzles involving shooting switches to turn off electricity or pushing a block in a straight line onto a button. Some credit has to be given to developers Behaviour Interactive for attempting to break things up with some more interesting sections.

The most imaginative of these involves a complete shift of setting which won't be spoilt here, but nevertheless it's the highlight of the game (even though the actual gameplay contained within this section is the same as it is everywhere else). Even outside of this area, Behaviour have clearly realised the need for variety, liberally sprinkling pace-changing bits throughout each level.

Golf, the only thing that can effectively repel a zombie horde

There are bits where you'll be riding on the back of a bird or a bat, playing golf with explosive orange balls, controlling a magic golden bullet in an attempt to hit bullseyes or flipping to a 2D perspective to carry on platforming.

One of these latter parts is an homage to the Scarecrow bits in Batman: Arkham Asylum, with your chameleonic life-form attempting to evade the attention of a paranoid UFO-obsessed human with a powerful flashlight. There are also numerous nods to other franchises and games, such as the pseudo Borg cubes on the very final level and a sound taken directly from Plants vs Zombies' bungee jumpers.

The game's really short and can easily be finished in one sitting yet, strangely, levels feel like they go on for too long. Also, the usual problem of dodgy camera angles obscuring your route is present, although it's thankfully not that big of a deal. Unless you fall to your death and lose out on the “don't die during a level” achievement. In which case it is a big deal.

Falling off a ledge is pretty much the only way you'll die on anything other than the hard difficulty level. It's a game aimed squarely at younger players, so it makes sense for it to be less than challenging, but it is very, very difficult to take enough damage to even come close to dying.

Golden bullets trigger a target shooting mini-game

This means that achievement whores out there are in their element, as it's perfectly possible to almost clean up the lot of them in one fairly standard run through the game. Mopping up the rest would be the only real reason to come back to Rango, unless you're obsessed and can't get enough of concept art unlocks and things like that.

And that's really your lot. It's very traditional, very solid and in gameplay terms doesn't offer anything new to the genre. Behaviour have, as mentioned, attempted to keep things fresh, but there's only so much they could do if their remit was to create a generic platformer. What they've done, they've done well enough but that shouldn't be enough for anyone who doesn't have a young child to keep occupied for a few hours.

Top Game Moment: It would probably have to be the complete change of scenery when entering the first teleport on the penultimate section of the game, but to say more would be to enter heinous spoiler territory. Definitely the highlight though, whatever it is.

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