I’ve only seen TV show Hell’s Kitchen a few times but I know what Gordon Ramsay is famous for – cooking and swearing. His foul mouthed cooking-swearathon is one of the most popular TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic and so it was only a matter of time before someone brought it to the Mac. In the end, the result is a beautifully animated game although one distinctly lacking in realistic culinary skills and swearing.
Hell’s Kitchen sees you progress through the ranks of chef via a series of increasingly challenging dishes while Ramsay stands in the top left hand corner of your screen scowling at you like he’s going to beat you up any second. In an effort by the developers to appeal to the whole family however, he doesn’t utter a single foul word even if you make a pigs ear of a boiled egg. In fact, he doesn’t say a great deal during the game until the end of the levels when he either congratulates you or tells you something along the lines that you’re a disgrace.
In the full version, there are two modes. In Career Mode you have to build your way up from a single-star restaurant to a five-star one. As you progress, your rating depends on how satisfied both your customers and Ramsay are with your dishes. In Arcade Mode, which is what you get with the 60 minute demo, time is of the essence because you have to deal with increasing numbers of customers, while keeping both them and Ramsay happy. Failure to do so results in Ramsay shutting down the kitchen and kicking you out.
Fortunately, you don’t have to remember all the ingredients of the delicious dishes as it’s all ready for you when you arrive but the key is to balance juggling several tasks at once. A bonus of the game is that you can print out some of the delicious recipes complete with instructions so you can have a go at the real thing later. However, the game itself relies less on cooking skills and more on co-ordination such as taking pans off the boil, mixing ingredients, welcoming customers and taking their orders. As a result, Hell’s Kitchen certainly looks great and features some mouth watering recipes but its appeal over several levels is questionable since it mainly relies on juggling several tasks at once rather than culinary skills.
Those looking for a more genuine culinary experience may therefore be disappointed by Hell’s Kitchen and prefer the more realistic (but far less glossy) kitchen experience of a game such as Cooking Academy. Gordon Ramsay would no doubt throw chip pan fat in my face and tell me to F-off for saying so although fortunately, not in this game.