Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Review: Lollipop Chainsaw (360)

Lollipop Chainsaw is like that summer movie no one wants to admit they actually had fun watching because it was ridiculous, you didn't know what was coming next (and didn't care), and you were watching it just because it paired well with sitting in a cool, dark room enjoying a drink and some popcorn.

That's what this game is, solid entertainment, even if you wouldn't want to admit it to your wife and/or girlfriend.

Featuring a cheerleading zombie hunters -- in fact, a whole family of zombie hunters -- and the head of her high school sweetheart, Nick, clipped to her hip, who is equally thrilled and disheartened at being reduced to a noggin and nothing else, the pair fight hordes of zombies that are flooding Earth from "The Rotten World" at the beckoning of another high school student. The set-up, even the cover for the game, appeals to me because it's absurd in the same vein as Earth Defense Force 2017.

Matching the set-up is the gamut of levels that present new challenges rather than a hack 'n' slash slog through repetitious levels. Protagonist Juliet blenderizes zombies with a combine driven through a wheat field, blasts rocks to protect a school bus, freezes zombies then smashes them, eludes a Pac-Man clone then fights on a Breakout! battlefield with a square "ball" bouncing around, faces off against a hippie while running around on a circle of school buses, and, yes, even takes part in some quicktime events. It's all nonsensical and it doesn't make a person think too hard.

The combat doesn't get more complex than the typical X,X,X,Y and purchasing new moves with coins collected by offing zombies and using those moves methodically to wade through the horde. Getting a combo string together isn't a problem; seeing a problem coming and trying to duck out of the combo is the problem. Juliet needs to complete each animation before proceeding to the next one so sometimes actually controlling Juliet feels off even if it looks pretty damn awesome when she's running through the combo.

That feeling of being off is more apparent when she gains access to the Zombie Blaster -- snapping in and out of the over-the-shoulder view and trying to aim quickly is finicky; plus, most often Juliet will snap out of the mode with her back to approaching enemies for some reason.

For all it's wackiness, Lollipop Chainsaw actually manages to be funny in fits and starts.

Juliet and Nick have plenty of dialogue exchanges throughout the game. Sometimes it's related to what's happening, other times it's completing random, like so much else in the game. To it's credit, it did make me laugh (literally) out loud on a few occasions but because it oscillates so much between being sharp to being completely stupid -- Juliet saying, "What the dick?" -- that the comedy doesn't feel like it has any cohesiveness.

The longevity of Lollipop Chainsaw relies on how much time gamers want to practice combos to finish levels faster and more cleanly than other players on the leaderboards or earn enough silver coins to purchase a closet's worth of outfits for Juliet. Otherwise, the game is a quick experience that doesn't dwell too much on one particular thing for too long before throwing something else at the player.

Right here readers can insert their own analogy between the game and the speed at which lollipops are consumed and how good they taste, but I think I'll just write that Lollipop Chainsaw is worth checking out if you enjoy camp and nonsense.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- Some very funny moments
- Strange collage of wackiness provides plenty of different things to do
- Overall solid combat...

The Bad:
- ...if somewhat a bit off in places
- Camera control is twitchy
- An 18-year old cheerleader with cleavage you can ski down spinning around a stripper pole while slicing zombie heads and talking about the fact she should be doing this naked because it's more aerodynamic is a hard thing to argue away as "art" to any casual viewer

Score: 8.0 / 10