Order Up!! Review (PS3)
As someone who grew up in the food industry, I was definitely eager to get my hands on the new PS3 cooking sim Order Up!!. In the game you work your way through the culinary business turning restaurants into five star dining establishments. Despite the hard-working nature of the food industry, Order Up!! has a goofy feel to it - in a good way.
After dropping out of a plane, you begin work at a local fast food joint. Right of the bat the light-heartedness of the game shines through the cartoonish look to the humorous dialogue. Working at a fast food joint, you learn the basic tutorials of the game under the tutelage of a greasy, pimply-faced teenager aspiring to become a restaurant manager - his likely end goal. After you learn the ropes you get the no-so-impressive end-of-day earnings of...debt. With all of your expenses and little earnings you decide to quit and start up your own restaurant - with the help of a hefty loan. This is just the beginning.
You start off with a run-down "restaurant", or at least attempt to turn a run-down building into one. Starting off you don't have much; you get a limited menu, minimal skills, and few dollars. Combining these, you will quickly earn your way to a five star restaurant - or at least that's the goal.
A typical day's work includes preparing meals, managing chefs, and serving customers. Table by table the rotund, quirky and, most importantly, hungry customers pile into the restaurant. After taking the order, it's your job to prepare the meals. This usually involves preparing the basic ingredients for each meal. Depending on the order it could be anything from slicing vegetables, boiling pasta, and cooking burgers, etc.
Order Up!! is less about mastering the PS3's Move motion controls and focuses primarily on cooking as quickly and accurately as possible. Preparing each ingredient varies on what it is, but each of them is judged on a scale of poor, OK, good, or perfect depending on how well you perform the action. Slicing tomatoes requires you time your cuts precisely, preparing guacamole requires you smash the avocados, etc. Each ingredient requires different motion controls. For instance, cooking a burger requires you to flick up on the Move wand to flip the burger.
In addition, Order Up!! judges you on quickness. It's not quickness for serving customers overall, but quickness in preparing each ingredient. For each item there is a bar that will determine how well the action is performed. When peeling lettuce, you are require to flick the Move wand four times to the right. Doing it quickly will land you in the "Perfect" zone. By slacking off, you could get a good or an OK.
For a time management game, I hardly felt the stress of managing my time. Like I said, it's quickness for each ingredient, not the entire clientele, which is part of the reason the game lacks an overall sense of urgency. Sure, if you take a REALLY long time customers will get impatient, but it's almost non-noticeable - and you can hire a clown to help keep customers in high spirits. The other time management objective has to deal with the individual meals of the table's order. The second you complete a meal, it begins to get cold on the counter. This could be a challenge if not so easily avoidable by saving the last ingredient to each meal in the order until last.
To help you out with your meals, you can hire additional chef's assistants to take care of the actions you don't enjoy or can't manage. Assistants usually have a select area of expertise, so use them wisely. Using them in an area they are not experienced in will likely result in a "good" rating.
As an added tipping bonus, some customers may require spices on their meal. This can be discovered by looking at each meal and listening for their requests or unlocking the hint for 1 coin. Either way, the bonus will provide a nice add-on to the check.
After you complete a day's worth of work, usually between 4-6 tables' worth of customers, you can enjoy your earnings, which is determined by the tips left for each customer. Obviously, the better you prepare the meals (speed, accuracy, etc.) the more tip they will leave. Using your earnings you can hire additional chefs, upgrade your appliances, purchase new recipes from the farmers' market and spices from the black market, and eventually purchase new restaurants. For what many would consider a "casual" game, there is actually quite a bit of unlockables to strive for.
To be eligible for these new restaurants you must have a five star rating in the previous one. To unlock stars for your restaurant you must perform certain goals. By accomplishing these goals you are rewarded a star. Objectives range in anything from giving your restaurant a fresh cleaning to impressing the finicky food critic (of which you must prepare his meal perfectly and quickly).
After unlocking new restaurants you will be introduced to brand new meals. Depending on the style of restaurant the orders vary, but the motions tend to stay the same. You will be shaking the wand up and down, turning it in circles, flicking it up, etc. While the individual actions may not be unique, the new environment is a welcomed change after spending a couple of hours in the previous restaurant.
In addition to what eventually becomes mundane meal preparing, there are a couple of mini-games that pop up. These will include things like flicking rats off the counters, shaking the controller to wake up your sleeping chef, and putting out fires if you cook food for too long. These are brief, unnecessary additions that aim to keep the game fresh and you on your toes.
If you are the kind of gamer who enjoys to play with others, Order Up!! does offer multiplayer modes in the form of split-screen co-op and competitive turn-based multiplayer for up to two players. Anyone who has worked in a kitchen knows that more than one set of hands can sometimes be too much. Luckily, that isn't the case for Order Up!! which actually handles the co-op quite nicely. The extra set of hands is quite beneficial. If you are running slow on a certain ingredient, your friend can flip the skillet to prevent a fire. As for competitive multiplayer, well, let's just say sometimes things in the kitchen can get a little heated.
Overall, Order Up!! is a well-made casual game, and will appeal to most time-management fans. The visuals are pleasant, the presentation is unique, and the controls fit the experience. Although Order Up!! is made with Move functionality in mind, the game is played just as effectively and enjoyably with the PS3's six-axis support. While the game mechanics are functional and the PS3 Move wand works well with the game, it does involve a lot of repetition; but then again, what time management game doesn't?
For time management fans and PS3 owners, Order Up!! is definitely a must-have, as it is one of the few, solid cooking/time management games available for the system.