jabbawocky's Naughty Bear (Xbox 360) review

A Naughty Game

Naughty Bear is one of those games that could sell itself on the concept alone. An insane sociopathic teddy bear goes on a murderous spree against other teddy bears after being wronged somehow. Usually the other bears don't come across as any more likeable as our player character so it’s okay to brutally murder them all.
You play as Naughty the anti-social and psychotic bear aforementioned. In each of the seven levels some character manages to upset Naughty whether this is by not inviting him to a birthday party or promising his death if elected as mayor. With a hateful inspiration he sets off to punish a target character causing as much havoc along the way. So beyond that there is not much of a story.
As mentioned there are seven levels that all share the same objective. Your goal is to kill a particular bear in punishment for their crime against Naughty. Each level is broken up into segments. In all segments before you can kill the target you have to accumulate points by being Naughty. This can be achieved by breaking objects, killing wildlife, scaring other bears and of course killing them. Once enough points are attained you are allowed to move on to the next area. When you enter the final zone of a level you only need to kill the target(s) to move on without letting them escape.  Once again the premise is very simplistic.
Being that the game awards the most points for the demise of other bears this makes it the key component of gameplay. The game allows you to go about your business however you want. You can play it as a hack and slash by grabbing the nearest weapon and mashing the X button to your hearts content. After enough damage you can press RT to execute an Ultra-Kill with the weapon you are carrying.
The other way to play is as a stealth game where you sneak up on other bears after sabotaging their objects and hit them with an environmental kill or scare. Since scaring the other bears to insanity are the most rewarding of methods this will be the one carried out the most.
After completing a level you unlock the next level providing you have earned the necessary ranking (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum). Whilst earlier levels will unlock after completing the previous one, later requirements mean you have to play through the various challenge modes this game has to offer. Challenges are in quantity and their are four on each level. They range from Killer (where the object is to kill every bear on the island without escape), Insanity (where you have to drive every bear insane), Invisibility (where you cannot be seen more than five times), Time Trail (to complete the level in a preset time), Untouchable (where you cannot take any damage) or Top Hat (where every bear is give a top hat a laser gun).
Whilst this does increase the replayability of this game somewhat it does not cover over some of the cracks this game has. For starters the game does not support stealth gameplay in its overall model. The game may look it can be played in such a way but when essentially there is a combo metre at the top that increases with every naughty action and decreases when nothing is being done it destroys any idea that you can take your time and forces you to quickly make moves. Also since it only takes one worried bear to set off the others and barricade themselves into a house it forces you into hack and slash thus making the freedom the game offers an illusion. Later on in the game you can unlock costumes that aid in some respects such as being able to blend in, but that only lasts until one bear has seen you commit a naughty act thus setting off the chain of events as mentioned.
The multiple challenges also do not cover up the fact their is only seven levels. This is a full retail price game and it has not been reduced (albeit it won't take long, as I found it for almost half price a couple of weeks after release) essentially its overpriced for what it offers. Add in the fact that there is not variation between levels then this also damages it's credibility as a full price release. Each item also only has one kill animation once again wearing down what charm this game had from the beginning.
In addition to this the graphics and sounds are not brilliant. Everything looks okay at best but rough around the edges. It seems like maybe they could have done something to at least smooth it out. The voice acting is solely dependant on the British-sounding Narrator who plays out the levels like a kids early morning program although his tone changes to that of a game show host after he announced a pun for the type of kill you have committed. The problem is that he starts to wear thin only after a few announcements. Other voice acting, if it can be called that, consists of grunts and groans committed by other bears.

The AI is just frustrating in this game as it doesn't take much to set off the chain reaction that sees bears barricade themselves into a house, call the police who in turn can all in the army. If a majority of bears have guns (like in the top hat challenges)  then you have to act very carefully because your hack and slash routine, without target button I might add, is unreliable to stop them before they take off loads of health with a spree of bullets. You can pick up a gun yourself but is so sluggish to aim it’s never a good idea.
Finally the game breaker for this game is the glitches. Clipping and camera issues mean you miss a lot of the special kills as the camera is places behind a wall or other object. The game will become choppy if too much is happening at once or if it just needs to load the next area. The most frustrating bug has to be the crashing. The game will crash when loading; it will crash when killing, it will crash if you break the score needed to get a platinum trophy. In other words the game can become unplayable.
Don't get me wrong there is something to like here. The game is fun in small doses (providing it doesn't crash on you that is) and would have probably taken X Box Live Arcade by storm. This is where it should have been released. At full retail price I cannot suggest this. Heck even at budget this game would be hard pressed to justify itself. Still if you are really interested in it maybe a rental should be considered. Overall there is potential but not a game that is worth you getting out your wallet.

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