7th Apr 2011 | 18:00
We were concerned to explore every avenue of Rango before offering up a verdict - so you can imagine our relief when we soon discovered that we had played it before... many many times.
Maybe we weren't a chameleon then, and maybe there were fewer mariachi owls, but there's nothing here which is less than miserably familiar.
The most shocking thing about this tie-in to Industrial Light & Magic's first CGI feature, a wacky Wild West spoof starring Johnny Depp, is that it had the longest development period of pretty much any movie tie-in platformer.
Over 18 months were spent putting the adventure together, and there was close collaboration with the movie team, plus one of the screenwriters is on scripting duty here.
Rango is a Baron Munchausen-style fibber, but the game allows you to bring his tall tales to life, so it 'goes beyond' the movie, like so many other recent tie-ins.
And yet, despite having the best part of two years to bring the film to consoles, developers Behaviour Games neglected to include - and we choose our words carefully here - a single original element in the entire game.
COME BACK GEX
As you're playing a weeny chameleon in a generally life-sized world, it was no surprise to see similarities to Ratatouille - but the difference is that the rat-based platformer featured plenty of head-scratching puzzles to break up its platforming. Rango's antics are otherwise identical - walking high-wires, scurrying up walls and so on, but there's nothing here to tax the big grey thing in your skull.
The missions are entirely on-rails, and every event which actually solves a problem and moves the plot on is handled by cut-scene. The camera is also pervertedly unhelpful, usually deliberately obscuring the way ahead and leaving you to flail blindly. That aside, the gameworld is solid for sure, and it looks smart enough, plus the music is a Nickelodeon-style treat.
But the problem is, the gameworld is also one we've explored a hundred times before - desert, cacti, old mines, explosive barrels, you name it. Even when the action shifts to an alien space ship, the feeling of deja vu is palpable.
Admittedly this is largely to be blamed on the movie itself, but that just gives all the more reason for any game tie-in to go that extra mile to strive for some level of original thought.
Multiplayer would also have been a no-brainer here, but after completing the main game, you're whistling dixie if you want more than costumes or the odd bit of unlockable concept art as a reward.
As ever, we're left with the annoying requirement to admit that kids who saw the movie and are drooling for more may enjoy the chance to become the little loudmouth lizard, no matter how trite the action on offer.
But for a CGI movie tie-in filled with Wild West wackiness and sci-fi levels, we'd refer you to last summer's Toy Story 3. That offered everything you'll find in Rango - plus endlessly more.