Thursday, August 9, 2012

Go cheer somewhere else

I'm back, and Lollipop Chainsaw has done little to improve my mood.

I am going to look at this game's mechanics and only it mechanics. Looking at it in any other way makes me feel a little skeevy. Also, getting into a debate about how annoying (not if, but how) Juliet is would take much more time than the game deserves. Valley girl bimbo speak stopped being funny... Well, it was never funny, and that is all that Juliet is capable of.

But I said that I wasn't going to do that. I am going to look at Lollipop Chainsaw through the same lens that I used to filter the terribleness out of Bayonetta. As a game, separated from all the gratuitousness, Bayonetta is very, very good. Remove the two piece cheerleader uniforms and forced dick jokes from Lollipop Chainsaw and it does not fare nearly as well, and that is being rather generous. When compared to other action titles the game is just bad.

Combat break down to one of two idioms: what is efficient and what generates the most sparkles. Moves that stun enemies are useful only for generating more sparkles which generate more money to purchase 'better' moves. None of the new moves are more efficient than mashing the chainsaw button. This means that the upgrade system, aside form extra health and damage, can be safely ignored. Even if a player is obsessed enough to power through the game using only the stilted, poorly animated moves that kill more than one zombie at a time there is no way to generate enough money to unlock everything in single play through. It's not even close, so the completionist or achievement hunter needs to run through the whole thing more than once.

Style and function do no need to be divorced. Once again I point to Bayonetta: her moves looked cool and killed things, assuming you could get over anatomically impossible leg length. Juliet's moves that look cool are worthless for anything beyond making more money to unlock more useless moves. It's like the game wants you to masturbate to something other than the obvious.

I really wanted to give the game a chance. It has been a while since I have played a good brawler and I am really not sold on Devil May Cry's new look. This is not it. Lollipop Chainsaw continues Suda 51's record of so so games that desperately point to his quirkiness to hide the fact that he really doesn't make very good games anymore.

1 comment:

  1. (Gasp!) Chamberlain's biting criticism leveled at my Lollipop Chainsaw? I must defend its honor!

    Ohhh c'mon, the whole point and purpose of LC's combat is to obtain the highest score possible - to eke out as many sparkles as you can - and that's what Juliet's full compliment of abilities are for. Lots of her moves are super-handy and designed for specific situations (she has a low spin to glean sparkle kills from crawling zeds, for example, she has a lightning-fast pom->'saw combo for quickly dispatching a single enemy, she has the butt bounce for including minibosses in sparkle hunting multi-kills...).

    Just like Yahtzee Croshaw said - someone can easily beat the final level of LC just by mashing 'saw - but they're not really beating the game. They're just seeing the end of the story.

    It's like playing Bulletstorm without leashing a guy towards you in zero-G, strapping a grenade-flail to him and kicking him in to a hot dog cart before triggering the explosion which kills everyone else in the room in a shower of wieners and gore.

    You don't have to play the game like that - but it's so much more fun if you do.