Game Reviews

Diner Dash Rush

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| Diner Dash Rush
Diner Dash Rush
| Diner Dash Rush

This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the links to jump straight to day three or day seven.

There was a period of about a week when I worked as a waiter, and it was one of the very worst weeks of my life. I'm always in awe of restaurant staff, because serving food quickly and politely to customers that - in my experience - run the gamut from rude to moronic, is a skill I can't possibly hope to learn.

Except I might have to for Diner Dash Rush, a game I'll be trying to get to grips with over the next seven days - juggling multiple orders, keeping my cool, and putting up with the demands of customers. Can PlayFirst teach me the skills necessary to be the hostess with the mostest?

Let's find out.

First impressions

Diner Dash Rush plays very similarly to the rest of the Dash series of games, in that it's about being efficient while handling several tasks at once.

Customers queue up, you seat them, take their order, and give it to the kitchen staff to cook. Once the food is ready, you take it over to the customers and they eat it. Then you take their cheques, gather their tables, and pop their dishes in the dish bin to be cleaned.

The real difficulty is keeping customers happy. As with any restaurant, diners will only wait for so long to be served before becoming miffed. When there's only one of you, and you're looking after several tables at once, following the routine detailed above becomes tricky.

You can only pick up items from two tables at once, which means a lot of back and forth between table and kitchen. Therefore you'll have to constantly think ahead to stay on top of the orders and ensure a customer doesn't storm out upset or you run out of time.

It's already beginning to stress me out, and I'm only just being introduced to additional gameplay ideas on top of these basics. I'm yet to make up my mind whether that's a good thing or not. We'll see when I've put some more time in.

Day 3: Seconds

The gameplay in Diner Dash Rush is hectic, but how frantic things become is largely dictated by how high up the leaderboards you're aiming.

You can saunter through a game of Diner Dash Rush and get a decent enough score, but if you're competing with friends via Facebook then you'll want to play a lot faster and smarter.

Serving customers as quickly as possible to get them off the table and out the door is a priority, and after just a few days of play my fingers feel like they're dancing across the screen.

There's a balance to be found though: speed is crucial, but so is accuracy.

Selecting Flo and sending her off to grab the order of a table, only to get there with full hands, will mean you waste valuable seconds returning her to the kitchen counter to unload, before going back out to complete her original task.

It also puts you out of step with the organisation and workflow of your own design. The thought process of, "what do I need to do next?" can so easily crumble into, "what else have I forgotten to do?" When you panic, you make mistakes, and that's ultimately reflected in your score.

There are also extra bonuses to add into this mix of thinking ahead and executing moves quickly.

If you colour-match customers to tables - parties with blue tops sitting on blue tables, for example - you'll be awarded more points. When you just miss out on beating your pals for the top spot in the leaderboards because you sat the wrong couple at the wrong table, it's fist-shakingly frustrating.

At the mid-point of my time with Diner Dash Rush, I'm very much enjoying the hustle and bustle. Here's hoping I still want to come back for more when I return in a few days to deliver my final verdict.

Day 7: Thirds

The problem with coming back for seconds is that the food is always the same. Like a catering-size lasagne going stale under cafeteria heat lamps, Diner Dash Rush soon becomes repetitive.

You can earn a Happy Hour if you serve enough customers, which gives you a little extra time, and there are paid Boosts which can alter a few of the fundamentals of play in your favour by letting you, for example, carry more items at once.

If the action I've described sounds too hectic, you'll be pleased to know that the Clean Sweep skill is on-hand in a bid to satisfy all customer orders, getting you out of a pickle should you become swamped. But by and large you're waiting on tables and you need to follow a steady routine to succeed.

For a game that encourages you to compete with your mates, the Facebook integration to do this is also slow. It appears to be pulling data every time you load the game up, slowing the opening screen down a jot. It doesn't crawl, but it's inelegant.

The 2D art is handsome and, most importantly, clearly represents each customer type so that you can see quickly how you'll need to serve them. But the space you play in feels cramped on a mobile, and occasionally this meant I ended up tapping on a table when I was supposed to prod the kitchen counter.

Diner Dash Rush does a great job of bringing the tried and tested Diner Dash formula to touchscreen, and it evokes the panic of working a busy eatery. It can become repetitive in larger servings, but for a quick gaming snack on the way to your real life job it's perfectly palatable.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.

Diner Dash Rush

Diner Dash hits breakneck speeds and is sure to tempt in fans of the series once more, but there's little new to get excited about here
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.