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Order Up!!
Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment USA
Developer: SuperVillain Studios
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Simulation/ Puzzle (Time Management)

Graphics & Sound:
I was actually really surprised when cooking simulators took off the way they did when motion controls entered the scene. Then again, I shouldn't have been since I know several people who wish they were great chefs just as much as others want to be rock stars or any other fantasy video games offer. Order Up!! introduces a neat twist to the idea - taking the idea of cooking and combining it with the fast-paced life of a cook in a restaurant kitchen.

Order Up!! began life as a Wii title, so players shouldn't expect super realistic food. Although the PS3 version benefits from a couple of nice HD upgrades, it retains the Wii version's simple visual design. The "bean people" character design isn't incredibly appealing, but I like simple food designs. There's enough detail to tell what something is, but not so much detail you'll get lost. It's a great happy medium that really works, particularly when you need to watch color changes to tell if something is ready.

Music is upbeat, though I can't really say it was something that stuck with me long after I switched off the console. You'll also hear a few quips from diners, which are fun but, like the game's core mechanic, get old.

The intro to Order Up!! let's you know everything you'll even need to know about the game. You're an aspiring chef who is dropped from a plane and lands in a dumpster. You eventually find your way to the local diner, where you begin life anew as a short order chef with dreams of one day running your own restaurant.

The intro diner acts as a tutorial, introducing the game's simple time management and food prep mechanics via American classics - the hamburger and fries. You're helped along the way by a teenage manager with his eyes on upper-middle management, so you need to impress him if you want to see your dreams come true.

A bulk of your time is spent prepping meals and getting food out to customers. Each item on the menu is made up of a simple list of ingredients, which you need to cut, dice, flip or fry. Each ingredient has its own motion associated with it, which you must master to perfect your dish. For example, while cooking burgers, you'll need to keep an eye on the meat and flip it at just the right time. The motions are simple and the game recognizes motions accurately. However, you're judged by how quick you can do each and by how close you can get to the "Perfect" zone.

Your ultimate goal is to get customers to leave big tips, which is directly linked to how well (and how fast) you get their orders out. Bigger tips mean more money, meaning better kitchen equipment and more recipes. Each restaurant also comes with a set of goals. There are quite a few to chase down and they are the only way to earn enough stars to unlock new restaurants.

Players with two PS Move controllers can tackle kitchen tasks together, or you can challenge each other to cook offs. Both are entertaining, though even with a friend, Order Up!! does become a bit of a grind.

If time management and multitasking are a challenge, don't worry - you shouldn't have much of a problem with keeping your restaurant going. Although time management is important, Order Up!! doesn't really push you as much as it probably should. I never felt rushed and it takes a long time for customers to become impatient.

Food prep, on the other hand, is slightly more pressing. Early on, you'll have little problem keeping track of the diner's small menu and few guests. As you move up in the culinary world, however, you're expected to handle more dishes at the same time. In addition to keeping track of food on the stove (up to two items at a time), you'll also have to watch your cutting board, fryer and other kitchen appliances. You'll rarely feel rushed with the time window (ahh... the life of a short order cook), just don't expect to knock out perfect dish after perfect dish.

Unless you let everything burn, there's no way to actually fail. Performing better, however, does net bigger tips that allow you to upgrade your recipes, spices and restaurant. You can also hire sous chefs, automating certain kitchen tasks. You are, however, at the mercy of the sous chef's unique skills, further reducing your chances of a perfect dish.

Game Mechanics:
Much to Order Up!!'s credit, mastering the motion controls isn't a major hurdle. The game manages to avoid nearly every motion-control related issue other games seem to stumble upon, so as much as you'll want to blame the controller for your poor cooking skills, you can't. It's all you.

That's not to say Order Up!! is an amazing experience, either. The motion controls are great, but you're limited to a few basic motions, leading to repetition. Even if you enjoy the core gameplay, which I did for the most part, you probably won't be able to play for longer than a half hour at best. Trying for precision does add a bit of frantic fun, especially on some more complicated dishes, but I was so bored of doing the same actions, I quickly lost focus.

Listening to orders and trying to keep customers happy does break some of the monotony, but not by much. Certain customers will ask for spices in their meals, which you must first unlock. Order Up!! excels at offering unlockable items, which will probably keep you coming back for more - that is, if you're the perfect storm of being into the game and possessing ODC Completionist tendencies. You're also presented with a few mini-games, like chasing away rats, though even with these distractions, you're still locked in a droning cycle of arm waving.

Order Up!! also supports the SIXAXIS controller, though I recommend using the PS Move if you have it. The game is still playable with the standard controller, but navigation isn't as crisp or easy. With the SIXAXIS, it sometimes really is the controller's fault.

Order Up!! is a well made-game and will have its audience. Unfortunately, even players who are really into what the game has to offer may quickly tire of its repetitive nature. Still, if time management is your thing and you dream of owning a restaurant, this is your best bet, especially considering its budget price.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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