20080609-failed.jpgOver the last few days, I've had the chance to play the Gordon Ramsay Hell's Kitchen video game.

In the game, you're put in charge of Hell's Kitchen restaurant. You progress through five weeks as you rank up from dishwasher to senior chef. You are both cooking in the kitchen and serving people in the dining area. This leads to a hectic experience, as cooking gets more complicated and more and more people eat at the restaurant.

You Are Doing Everything

Unlike a real restaurant, there's no division of labor in the Hell's Kitchen game. You'll do every job in the place.

In the dining area, you seat people, take their orders, serve orders, and bus the tables after the diners are finished.

With the cooking segment of the game, you have a set of ingredients that must be prepared one at a time. After you get the order, you put the ingredients into the pots or pans as per the requirements shown in the icons above them. Each pot or pan also has a different cook time, which you'll have to keep track of. After they're done cooking, you plate the food to be sent out.

After the jump, the rest of the review, plus gameplay video.

If this all sounds complicated, it is. It gets even more complicated when more ingredients are available and the use of the oven is added. It's definitely not boring, as it provides a challenge. It does get repetitive, however.

Even as the game gradually adds more elements to the kitchen and dining area play, it comes to feel like work, as you're doing the same things over and over again. As I played, the ingredients seemed to resemble ingredients not so much as they did colors that I clicked and dragged, and the people at tables seemed merely like places to click on.

'You Donkey!'

It wouldn't be a Hell’s Kitchen game without chef Gordon Ramsay yelling and cursing at you. If you mess up badly (or also at other times when I was doing OK), he’ll say things like, "You donkey" and "Move your ass" and "Oh, fuck me senseless."

But he'll also compliment you when you're doing well, which sometimes comes off a bit weird. Like when you finish a day satisfactorily, one thing he'll say is "I am a proud man" and smile a little.

There's a limited set of phrases, so after a while, what he does say gets a little annoying.

Video: Doing Poorly and Getting Sworn At

Video: Doing Well and Making Gordon Ramsay a 'Proud Man'

No Need to Throw All of It Out

It's not unbearable though. There is a slightly deeper strategy underneath all the clicking and dragging. Randomly clicking on ingredients to prepare or putting ingredients into pots will end the game fast, as the timing on the food will go out of sync as you're preparing ingredients. An unintentionally funny aspect of preparing the ingredients is that when you click on them, they float in the air, spin around, and make a spinning sound.

In the dining room, you can queue the waiter (why is there only one?) to different tables so you don't have to micromanage as much. If you're interested, new recipes are unlocked as you complete each day.

The game costs $20; that's probably the max I would've paid. It's not a horrible game. The challenge is there, but it fails to be compelling.

Rating: C-


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