Hell’s Kitchen

Status: Nearly completed Hell’s Kitchen before trading it in

Play your way through five grueling weeks under the watchful eye of Gordon Ramsay to become a 5-Star Chef. Balance your time between managing the dining room and perfecting your dishes in the kitchen to keep Ramsay happy.

For a DS title, there is so much more that could have been done in this department. While Ramsay looming over you on the top screen is pretty life-like, your dining room patrons and waiter are too tiny. There a very few frames of animation in regards to the patrons eating, and your waiter vanishes and appears to wherever you point him instead of actually walking through the area. In the kitchen, your work station is very basic. Instead of chopping vegetables, pouring milk, and the like, you simply see your ingredients shake in the mixing bowls. As your food cooks on the stovetop, you can see the heat and smoke if you burn your food, but it doesn’t look like anything edible. Just blobs of colour in a pan/pot until its put on the pass to serve, at which point it is hidden under the silver lids.

Tap the screen. Seriously. That is basically all you need to do. Tap on the host stand to seat patrons. Tap on the table to bring their order to the kitchen. Tap on the Pot icon to swtich over to the kitchen. Tap on the bowls to “mix” the various ingredients. Oh! Now you get to drag them to the pot/pan/oven as directed. Tap to put onto the pass. Tap to serve the dishes. Tap to clear the table. Tap, tap, tap.

Ramsay’s bleeped out phrases from the show are scattered throughout the game depending on your progress. A bit of incentive to hopefully not hear the worst phrase of them all: “Shut it down!” There is some ambient music while you listen to the ingredients mix, the tiny clinking of diners enjoying their meal, and the sizzling of your food as it cooks.

Fun Factor:
The highlight of this game, and the reason I kept trudging through each “day” in the kitchen, was collecting Ramsay’s own recipes. Before you begin each day in the kitchen, you have the option to read the recipe of the day. From his famous Beef Wellington to chocolate chip cookies, there are 35 entries from the US version of the television show to unlock and learn to cook yourself.

Replay Value:
If you are a completionist, you will keep replaying each “day” until you hit that 100% mark. Otherwise, once you get that fifth Star in career mode, you are pretty much finished with the game. You can always try out arcade mode as well, which throws you straight into the kitchen, filling ticket after ticket of food, seeing just how well you can do.

Overall Opinion:
As a Gordon Ramsay fan and loyal Hell’s Kitchen viewer, I was hoping for so much more with this game. I love the cooking genre, and the DS is a great platform for them as we have seen with the Cooking Mama titles. Hell’s Kitchen is a pure time management title. It lacks the personality of similar games such as the Diner Dash and spin-off “Dash” games. Unless you are a fan, I say pass on the DS version.

(Reviewed for GamingAngels – Feb 14, 2009)

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