IGN Review of Ratatouille
There's a general consensus that Ratatouille is a great, if not excellent, Pixar film. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for its videogame counterpart, which is a flawed platformer that attempts to tell the story of Remy and his journey to become a great chef. What starts out as a relatively decent game spirals into a parade of glitches and annoyances that really hamper any fun you may have with the title. As far as we can tell, this cheese is too damn moldy.
Developed by Heavy Iron Studios and published by THQ, Ratatouille follows the small rat Remy as he works to become a great chef in Paris. His method: assisting a hopeless cook, Linguini, who clearly has no natural talent in the culinary arts. Simple story aside, this game can be summarized quite easily with a single statement: Ratatouille is a flawed platformer and it's not that fun. For a movie-based game, it certainly isn't the worst, and the mechanical flaws and narrative issues might be overlooked by the younger target audience, but Ratatouille has some major problems to its name. Let's take a look at them.
Before we discuss the overarching, mechanical flaws that require more effort to explore, let's touch on a blindingly obvious issue: the story. Ratatouille has almost no consistency or cohesion to its plotline. The game begins with several short cutscenes that feel rather promising, but there are virtually no cutscenes following that introduction, save maybe one or two midway through the game. This baffling change in narrative structure is almost beyond us, because after the first few minutes of playtime, you'll honestly be confused as to why anyone is doing anything. Characters have no motivation and the plot has no reasonable context. Ultimately, Ratatouille just doesn't tell you anything. You just mindlessly jump from one mission to the next with little urge to continue. It's pretty ridiculous.
A poorly told or constructed plot can often be forgiven if the gameplay and other elements come together in a respectable way, but that's tragically not the case here. Essentially, the game plays out across a handful of large areas (large for a rat, anyway), with one area serving as your home base. Each area has a series of missions that, when completed, unlock the next area you can play around in. The problem with this structure is that it's never really explained to you in the game. If you have no prior knowledge going in, the flow of the gameplay is extremely awkward and uncomfortable.
Assuming that you can get into the groove on your own, you'll begin to notice the true problems of the game. Although most of the platforming elements work well enough (as unoriginal as they are), a lot of the jumping mechanics can be immensely frustrating. If you're too close to a solid platform that you need to hop up on, sometimes you can get caught on it and not make the jump. More annoying, really, is how easily and randomly you can die. If you fall far enough, sometimes you'll just instantly be taken to the game over screen without any warning. If an enemy touches you, death can often come even when you have a full health bar, because you can get stuck on them too with no way of backing down.
This issue becomes most apparent during the chase segments which require you to constantly run towards the camera as someone chases Remy from behind. The most unlikely things will kill you during these sections, and it'll annoy you to no end. At one particular point during our blood-pumping sprint, we continuously touched the side of a ramp, which would result in a game over and level restart. Why the side of a wooden ramp (that you're actually supposed to climb) would kill you is truly beyond us. The only mechanical (albeit discernable) difference between the PS3 and 360 versions of the game is the usage of motion control when balancing Remy on ropes and small spots. This works fine for the most part, and can be turned off if you prefer.
Ratatouille's sadistic icing on the cake comes in the form of the game's audio. It's awful. During certain missions, you'll receive aural hints from the other characters, but they come so often that their voices will drive you to the brink of insanity. Never have we so desperately wanted to turn off the volume, because that surely improves the overall experience. Furthermore, it doesn't help that the game's music (which is charming, we suppose) is restricted to painfully short and repetitious loops.
©2007-11-05, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved