Hey, remember when I did a first impression of this game way back in July? Yeah, it takes me a while to find the time to play games. Be thankful – I still haven’t finished Silent Hill: Downpour yet (though I am on the last level, finally!). But, luckily, this one was short so you actually get a review in less than a month! I know – as a reviewer, it’s pitiful, but you also have to remember, I’m not the best gamer either, so it’s usually going to be take me a little longer to get the job done.
So, we continue the adventures of Juliet Starling, bodacious high school cheerleader and zombie hunter extraordinaire, whose town has been invaded by hordes of zombies that only she and her eccentric family can destroy and save the world from darkness. Can she do it with five major enemies awaiting her at the end of every road? Will there be time for her birthday cake? How are they going to get Nick’s head back on a body? All this and more will be answered in my first ever video game review! Lollipop Chainsaw here I come!
How does one go about reviewing a real videogame? Well, I guess let’s start with the most important parts – level design and combat. I’m the first to admit I am not a fighting-game-pro. I don’t memorize lots of combos, but rather stick to my five move arsenal. Don’t get me wrong, I can duel it out with most Tekken, Street Fighter, and Soul Calibur fans, but I’m no where near the level of the hardcore gamers. What’s unique about this game is that you don’t learn combos, you buy them, along with everything else, from music, to outfits, and health upgrades. By buying combos, you learn what you want, but you’re also limited, so you need to score higher to get more points. In the game, everytime you kill a zombie, you get a certain amount of of coins, and if you manage to decapitate more than three at a time, what is called “Sparkle Hunting,” you get higher amounts and special silver ones. Because, you know, this game just wasn’t cutesy and pink enough already.
You also get weapons, mostly from your family, such as the Chainsaw Blaster, which is basically a portable heavy arterially canon, which is impossible to accurately aim and shoot, because he even it says you’re good to shoot, you’re not. Zombie baseball, which forces you to learn this weapon fast, is the worst mini game ever – I have to try it six different times, and each time I lost, it was always the last base of the final homerun, and it was just that one part that held me over. But the weapon itself is pretty useful You also get a “Nick Ticket” which is when you can throw your boyfriend’s head around like a flail, or shoot it out of the canon, which I hated so I never bothered with it. Most of the time though, it was me and my pinky sparkly chainsaw – how it should be. Not a lot of quick time events which is great, but there’s lot of variety to the different actions so you’re not likely to get bored.
Along the way you collect lollipops, info on special zombies, achievements, and even phone calls, making the game feel a little more involved and a scavenger hunt. After all, if there’s something to be done in a video game, it’s collecting as much shit as they lay out in front of you. I mean, I grab treasure chests and health packs like they are made of solid gold. Does it change anything if you collect all the stuff? No, not really but the names and concept art are a lot of fun. This bad-boy is packed with lots of great production extras, and great art still so it’s a major plus.
The level designs are actually really fun and creative, and take place in boss appropriate areas. The hippie rock boss took place on a farm with psychedelic mushrooms, tractor-mass-zombie-killing, and creepy chickens. The 1950s rock takes place in a cathedral, giving a shout out to its roots in old school gospel music. Hell, the 1980s-1990 electric funk takes place in a giant arcade, where each level is a different halographic side scrollers and has break dancing zombies. Every boss is unique in attack, personality, and mode of fighting.
The music, a mix of cutesy pop, hard rock, electronica, classic tunes are all held together with supplemental scores by Silent Hill musical god Akira Yamaoka. Personally, I loved her single song on here and the fact that you can buy additional soundtracks to personalize the game a little really stood out and is where most of my money ended up going to.
I wish that we got a little more time with the bosses to really get a feel for them, since the fights go by really quick. However, our two main leads, Juliet and Nick are well developed and fun. Nick acts more like a real human boy, hating his condition of just being a head, cracking wise, and ultimately feeling terrible despair at being dragged around against his will, playing the role typical assigned to girls in this genre.
Juliet herself is actually more of a typical teenage girl stereotype than normal, and yet, she’s also incredibly likable. The worst is that she seems brainless but really isn’t and is portrayed to be caring, smart, and confident, but with a game that’s so short, we just get glimpses of it while we’re running around trying to kill as many zombies as we can. I wish there could have been more of her and her family dynamic because it seemed a lot more interesting than just hack-n-slash throughout multiple levels.
The aesthetic of the game is beautiful – I can’t rave enough about it. The detail in the scenery, the objects and costuming are spectacular, and really a labor a love. I wasn’t thrilled at first with some of weird outlines on the characters at certain points, which can make it look messy, until I released it was a throw back to comic book design and drawing, a theme which also when into the many menus of game. It may not be everyone’s cup of tee, but you more so fast, you sometimes can’t even tell. Still, with no lag time, few distortions, and amazing conceptual designs that are unique and stand on their own, this is one great looking game.
The one complaint I have is while I wanted the game cause it was short and very re-playable, the story mode was just a little too short. I got through it with 5 days of moderate game play time (2 hours more or less), and that’s just a little bit too little plot in what seemed like an incredibly fun, imaginative game. I’m hoping that like No More Heroes, there will be a sequel which will be longer, better, and with no freaking zombie baseball. Never again, Suda51. NEVER. AGAIN.
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture (Suda51)
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Notable people involved: James Gunn (writer)
Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: PS3
Genre: Hack and slash
Release date: June 12th, 2012