Naughty and Nice
You don't see games like Naughty Bear anymore. It's a points based action hack'n'slash game that doesn't take itself too seriously. You play as Naughty, a pissed off bear who's out for revenge and most importantly for a highscore on the online leaderboards. The game uses different gameplay elements that aren't all that great and in the end form a mixed bag of ideas that seemed great on paper but fail to reach their true potential.
The story in Naughty Bear is inexistant. The game takes place on Paradise Island, a place where all the little fluffy bears come out to play and have fun. However there is one bear, Naughty, who's a social reject and slightly insane, that nobody wants to play with and everybody makes fun of. The game starts you off with Naughty finding out that he hasn't been invited to a birthday party, which makes him angry and decide to kill everybody. The game was often marketed on the whole "not invited to the birthday party" story arc. Said arc lasts only for one level and then the game moves on. Soon enough, Naughty starts fighting ninjas and robots and the game gives you little context. The game is narrated by a british sounding guy whom, with his tongue in cheek narration and his stupid puns, bring some charm into the game's narrative. He speaks as though he was reading something out of a children's book which makes for a great contrast with the violence onscreen. Naughty's true intentions or why he has loads of scars on his face is never explained but that doesn't matter since it's clear that the game's developers didn't really care about the game's story.
What the developers did care about is the gameplay. Naughty Bear is the first ever teddy murdering sim (Conker's Bad Fur Day aside). The game is entirely score based. You're set free on a level (or chunk of a level) and must do your best to kill the other bears while keeping your multiplier up. In Naughty Bear, you score what the game calls "Naughty Points", points that you get when you do something Naughty like tip a water cooler or grill a bear's face off. The game gives you loads of possibilities to do evil things and luckily points them out to you. The game's combo system is pretty deep and insists on you being a sadist. You'll score more points by stressing the bears, remaining invisble as they look for you and setting up traps they can walk straight into. The game rewards you even more points when after making a bear go insane or when he's injured, letting him run around the level a little, letting all his friends see that something bad is going on. And when the time comes to kill them (either by making them commit suicide or by dirrectly murdering them), you best do it in front of the other bears to win massive points. As you can see, the game's combo system takes some getting used to but if you've ever found joy in burning ants in your backyard with a magnifiying glass, then you'll understand how to make the bears suffer.
Killing the bears is probably the best part of the game, the death sequences being so histerical and ironic (despite the fact that there is no blood or gore to be found, only fluff). However, this fun is blemished by control issues. The game recommends using stealth, as it's the only way to get a maximum amount of points. To sneak up on an enemy and scare or kill him, you have to press either LT or RT. The only problem with this is that you have to be right behind the bear for this to work, not slightly to the right or left but perfectly aligned with it. This can get very frustrating when it doesn't work and can crap up your entire plan. Another issue I have is with Naughty's movement. There is no difference between his run and sprint and moving him around indoors is a mess. The fighting also leaves something to be desired. Naughty can pick up weapons like clubs and hit people with it. This is done by mashing the X button and sometimes pressing Y to dodge. His attacks however don't lock on to one specific enemy meaning you'll be swinging at air most of the time. The shooting is slightly better, taking an over the shoulder view for aiming, but the problem with the guns is that when you pick one up, the game automatically puts you in aiming mode, meaning you can't grab one and run, ending in some pretty cheap deaths. Since the AI is pretty smart and ruthless, often travelling in groups and calling for help, this is a problem. Another one of the game's big problems is the fact that it crashes often. You'll pray when exiting a level that the game doesn't crash on you, as Naughty litterally stutters through the end level gate. And you may not want to press the "gem" button during the loading screens, or you'll get stuck in infinit loading forever. And when you're screen goes black after selecting a menu option, don't worry its not your Xbox its Naughty Bear !
The game has a surprising amount of replay value. There are seven chapters in all. The first level is a story mission while the other ones are challenges which give you new objectives like not hitting any bears. These challenges make the game more interesting and funner to play. As the game goes on, you'll be faced with increasingly hard challenges and even harder enemies. The game suffers with the same problem as The Force Unleashed: you're supposed to be playing as a bad ass ut as the game gets harder, so do the enemies, taking away the feeling that you're in control and unstoppable. Despite this problem, the deepness of the gameplay and the funny premise makes for a pretty enjoyable single player experience. there is a multiplayer mode that has an interesting badges system (which are basically perks) but due to the fact that it's one of those multiplayer modes where everyone has to press X to say they're ready, I have yet to play a match.
On the presentation side, the game sports some nice, simple graphics that sticks with the whole children's book theme. The bears are colorful and varied and there is very little clipping. However, there are some bugs in the enemy AI such as them getting stuck in a door or simply not reacting to anything you do to them. The music is all cheery despite all the violence and the sound of the bears screeming and yelling is good motivation to get up to them and stick a phone down their throat.
Naughty Bear is in the end a disappointment. It had alot of hype leading up to its release and falls flat on its face. It's a cute, brutal little game that should be enjoyed in short bursts. It's not the megaton, totally insane game that it was marketed to be. If you like The Club and Manhunt, then yes this game is for you. If you like narrative, plot, gameplay that works and teddy bears then no, this game is not for you. I live in a country where renting games is illegal (France). Despite its low price, this game is probably a good rental. If I were you I'd wait a couple months until the price goes down, then give it a try. This game has some really good ideas (like killing teddies) that deserve your time and a small amount of your money.
One word review: defluffication