IGN Review of Ratatouille
Leave it to Pixar to create a movie about a sewer-dwelling, garbage-surrounded rat whose life ambition is to become a famous French chef. Admittedly wacky, these over-the-top concepts always seem to come together through strong writing and beautiful animation, whether the end result is Toy Story, Finding Nemo or The Incredibles. Ratatouille, which is pronounced rat-a-too-ee, if you care, seems to be no different. Case in point, IGN editors by and large love the movie. It was not only a visual stunner, but funny and original. The THQ game, jointly developed by Heavy Iron Studios and Asobo, has some of the right ingredients. For example, it makes very good use of the license and features some fun platformer mechanics that are particularly well matched to younger gamers. At the same time, though, Ratatouille as a game feels like a dozen other platformers before it.''
''''You play as Remy, a lovable but confused rat who isn't interested in the typical rodent life. He wants to dazzle patrons with his legendary dishes, not scour garbage cans for leftover traps. So when Remy happens upon and helps a clumsy busboy prepare a great pot of soup, the human enlists his aid again and again in an attempt to stay his growing popularity in the kitchen. Remy is, of course, the brains of the outfit, but no restaurant in the world, let alone Paris, would accept a rat as its head chef. This story is introduced through pre-rendered snippets that are stylized and atmospheric, but also (for some unexplainable reason) overly compressed. This is an unnecessary shortcoming that has marred the presentational package of some efforts and we'd like to see it go away. Many of the title's cinematics, however, are handled adequately through the game engine.''
''Ratatouille is a straightforward platformer and if you're a genre snob who holds their selections to higher standards, you might find yourself peeved with the title's general lack of originality. You explore environments, scurrying around corners when necessary. You jump on objects and tail-swipe enemies. You balance across high wires or sniff out your next objective. It's all in there, ripped directly from the Book of Platformers, if ever there was such a work. Ratatouille even includes the obligatory platformer sliding levels -- in this case Remy barrels down the insides of a giant piping system. You won't often run through a doorway into some new world or gameplay mechanic you have never seen before, which is a valid complaint. ''
''''However, innovative or not, Ratatouille is usually fun and entertaining, two truths that we attribute to tight control and smart, varied levels designs. You move Remy effortlessly through the sewer systems, city streets, kitchens and dream worlds he inhabits with the analog stick and can double-jump by tapping the a button. Pressing another, the screen will take on a fish-eye view, at which point you're able to sprint through an area; this mechanic feels good because it has weight and momentum; if you take a corner too sharply, you will actually go into a rat power-slide that is fully controllable. Hold another and you'll be able to see by way of a misty purple trail the path to Remy's next objective, a helpful tool for novice players. Simply traversing the environments is enjoyable because the controls are implemented intuitively and we're sure kids will really take a liking to the effort because of it. The challenges themselves, meanwhile, are never too daunting, but neither are they ridiculously easy, which fosters a smooth-moving pace. ''
''Remy will have to catapult across chasms and outwit dogs or survive the chaos of a kitchen filled with rodent-hating cooks. The developers have helped break from the monotony of run-and-jump gameplay by breaking levels into a series of challenges from simply devising a way to get from Point A to Point B to using Remy's abilities to sneak by potential enemies or to pick up and place objects in the appropriate destination. ''
''Ratatouille's single-player affair is complemented by a series of mini-games. Some of these offerings, like the sliding levels, will be familiar to platformer fans. These minis, which later become compatible for two and sometimes four (rotating controllers) players, help to extend the replay value of the main adventure.''
''Ratatouille sports large, stylized environments that are highly interactive. Heavy Iron and Asobo have humorously animated Remy as he runs through the locations, there are some average particle effects. While the levels themselves vary greatly in design, the texture work is unanimously blurry, which is the biggest disappointment. When you get up close to an object, it will sometimes seem borrowed from an N64 title, let alone GameCube. We know today's games can do more.
©2007, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved