In the past few years, the trend has been that multiplatform games are released on all three home consoles instead of just the two major ones. Because of the necessary changes to the graphics, sound design and control methods — and the presence of an online mode — the games come off as two completely different experiences. In some cases, there are changes to the level design, so things are tweaked in favor of a specific console. In other cases, the titles are so different that they share the name and characters but very little else. In the case of Rango for the Wii, both EA and Behavior took the former route, with level changes and some game design tweaks while still retaining the story and basic levels. Unfortunately, this merely turns a good game into a mediocre one.
The plot follows the path few movie games do in that it occurs after the events of the film instead of re-telling the film in video game form. A meteorite fell from the sky and onto the ranch owned by Beans' father. After the incident, Rango comes back into town, and upon being presented with a fragment of the meteorite from fellow gunslinger Slim, he explains why the meteorites are now appearing in the town of Dirt. According to Beans, the meteorites may be the key to solving the disappearance of her father. Unfortunately, Bad Bill and his gang seem intent on getting the meteorites for themselves. Your job is to grab those meteorites and discover what they have to do with Beans' father's disappearance.
As players progress through the title, they'll definitely notice the amount of fan service that the game provides. In a larger sense, the fan service comes from the plot, which spirals from a standard Western to something completely different. You'll have levels where you explore haunted mines or jump on trains, and those will remind you of a typical platforming game set in the Old West. Later on, you'll have an episode where Rango gets heatstroke and, like the movie, the game begins to go further away from a Western and into stranger territory. Without spoiling anything, it's safe to say that the game will go into territory no modern Western has yet covered. Outside of the plot, the game has other treats for fans of the film, including an unlockable Hawaiian shirt for Rango to wear and appearances from the mariachi swallows. As in the film, the mariachis appear in the unlikeliest of places.
For those expecting the game to be similar to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, prepare to be stunned and disappointed. The game splits its time fairly evenly between platforming and shooting. During the platforming sequences, you can climb, jump and run over obstacles, using your melee ability to break open boxes to find stars. Interestingly, you'll never get the ability to melee an enemy simply because none show up while you're running around.
Once you get to specific spots on the map, you're placed in shooting sequences that pit you against a horde of outlaws. Some levels let you take cover while others won't, but the objective is always the same: Eliminate everyone you can find before moving forward. You'll always have a standard six-shooter by your side, but you can shoot icons along the way to temporarily get firecracker launchers, machine guns or shotguns for the firefights. If you've accumulated enough stars, you can activate an ability that lets you be invincible for a limited amount of time, and you won't need to reload your pistol during this time, either. In a few levels, you can ride a roadrunner or bat, but in those on-rails sequences, you don't have the option of controlling your movements.
Aside from the change in gameplay, there are a few more missing elements that are present in the other console iterations. The guided bullet sequences are gone, which is somewhat perplexing since the Wii controls seem perfect for that gameplay mechanic. It's unfortunate that the stealth sequence is also gone from the trailer level, as it helps to break up the monotony. Levels seem shorter because of the removal of full sequences, and since you don't have the ability to power up Rango's abilities, you're only collecting stars for temporary invincibility. Finally, the ability to melee your opponent is also gone. Even if an enemy has come close to you, you have to shoot at him to get rid of him instead of simply punching him in the face.
The simplification of the title also has an impact on the difficulty level and game length. Because of the missing obstacles and other gameplay mechanics, Rango on the Wii feels much easier. You never have to worry about doing certain sequences correctly, rushing through areas to avoid getting shocked, or walking tightropes. Miniboss fights are also gone, and you never have to worry about crashing into objects with mistimed jumps in the bat and roadrunner sequences. It makes levels much easier to get through, but they're also shorter because of those missing sequences. What was a four-hour game on the PS3 and Xbox 360 becomes a two-hour game, which would've only been slightly acceptable if it were a portable offering. Since it's a full-fledged Wii title, though, that is simply too short for its own good.
The film's look impressed moviegoers, especially since it didn't come from Pixar or DreamWorks, and the graphics could be considered just as impressive — even on the Wii. The environments don't vary much in color because of the desert setting, but the browns are bright when they need to be, and the rest of the items have a dirty, worn-out look that emulates the look of the movie. The characters animate well enough, and the models look good. They aren't as detailed as the models you see in the cut scenes, which were taken from the more powerful consoles, but they hold their own. What disappoint here are the camera angles and distances, which contribute to the shooting segments feeling less exciting. Shooting segments are static and give you rather wide areas, but there's no zoom feature. Some enemies come straight at you while others stay put on their perches, so it seems like you're shooting at dots instead of enemies.
The sound also does a good job in terms of staying faithful to the source material, but like the rest of the game, it has its share of differences. The music emulates some of the score pieces you'd hear in the movie rather well, but some of the choices don't exactly mesh well with some of the levels. The lazy title screen rendition for the train level, for example, doesn't feel like it fits with an action-packed adventure. The effects still hit the mark, though, with gunshots and explosions providing just the right amount of volume and bass. The voices contain a mix of both sound-alikes and original actors, and they do a good job. What's interesting is the use of voice in gameplay. Enemies still come out and start their quips before dying, but aside from a few grunts, Rango says nothing at all. Some of the game's humor from the other consoles is missing here because Rango is so silent, but it is supplemented with more voice clips from the mariachi swallows. There's plenty of dialogue from them that wasn't present in the movie or the other console games. Because their lines often try to predict the chameleon's untimely and inevitable demise, it is worth playing the game to hear them all.
As long as you aren't comparing it to the other console versions, Rango for the Wii isn't all that bad. The story still fits well in the universe of the movie, and the platforming aspects and rail shooting segments are pretty good. The flow between regular shooting segments and platforming segments, though, doesn't feel quite right, and the easy difficulty level and lack of gameplay value make this game too expensive to purchase. If you have either a PS3 or Xbox 360, stick with those consoles for a more enjoyable Rango experience. If you only have a Wii, though, rent this game and put the rest of the money toward something more substantial.
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