20 November 2009


One rat you'll enjoy in your home

If you haven’t noticed - it’s summer, a time where movie theatres get big-budget actionganzas and your console goes through a bit of a dry spell. Unless you want to start tapping that pile of games you swore you’d get to by now, you can always sniff around for the latest, potentially awful film tie-in starring emo spider-men, ambiguous pirates or… a French rat that cooks? Ratatouille - the latest Pixar anthropomorphic animal flick - bucks this trend and offers a solid platformer that doesn’t feel like Disney’s trying to rape your wallet.

Playing as bi-pedal rat, Remy, you’ll traverse sewers, markets and restaurant kitchens in order to help your family find grub, and assist a nerdy Frenchman in becoming a better chef. Each section of the game is broken up into missions that help your fellow rat get one step closer to fine cuisine such as finding a coin to distract a human, disabling rat traps or stealing a key to open a food locker.

While the pathways to your goals are linear, it never feels too distracting because you’ll often traverse much of the wide-open level in order to reach your destination. Need to shut off the gas main? Just sprint past the crabs, evade the cooks by hiding under tin cans, climb up the broom handle, swing on the hooks, grab the umbrella… and it goes on. The constant “A to B to C” missions do get repetitious, but there’s so much variety, it’s almost a platforming dream.

We say almost because after each jump, you need to hit B to grab a hold of the next object or land on it correctly. That mechanic felt archaic in the original Tomb Raider and that came out ten years ago. C’mon THQ, we like our characters to automatically grab swinging poles or ledges. It just doesn’t feel right because you’re never sure when to hit B, leaving each jump to be a leap of faith that may or may not send you plummeting down a hole.

Before the gameplay becomes boring, Ratatouille serves up fresh minigames, that don’t feel tacked on. Admittedly, the cooking minigames - DDR-style button mashing or correctly matching ingredients to the corresponding buttons - are a bit lame. Seriously, we’ve been playing the GameCube for years and still can’t tell the difference between the X and Y buttons. The chase segments (running at the screen all Crash Bandicoot-like), tunnel sliding and even rafting down a sewer creek, feel fun and don’t outstay their welcome. Our favorite is actually a platforming challenge reminiscent of Mario Sunshine’s bonus stages, where you’ll hop around food-themed, surrealist landscapes complete with rotating carrots and ravioli platforms.

The current-gen versions of Ratatouille - PS2, GameCube and Wii - are almost identical save for some wonky remote physics for the Wii and minor graphical flourishes seen on both Nintendo systems. While the PS2 version suffers slightly from lower quality visuals, the GameCube version pops with sharper imagery. It’s difficult to tell, until you watch both the pre-rendered and in-game cutscenes and notice no grain and smoother character designs. The difference is so slight though, that it hardly matters.

Ratatouille’s defied our expectations by dishing out a solid adventure with loads of extras and minigames. If the missions felt a little less repetitive, then we’d really have film-tie in greatness here. Either way, this is one game adaptation that’s easy to swallow.

By Radar


Post a Comment

Copyright @ 2008-2010 Game Center | Gaming Center | Powered by Blogger Theme by Donkrax