If you happen to love large women and cartoon violence then I have great news for you; Fat Princess has recently been released for the Playstation Network (PSN) and it's absolutely adorable.
This team-based capture the flag (or princess) game is a lot of fun and extremely charming. The graphics are cartoony and colourful, the gameplay is simple and the mechanics behind them add a lot of depth and strategy for those able to utilise it. At first it may be a bit confusing because the game has no real tutorial and so it is up to you to figure everything out as you play, however, after the first two to five games it will start to make sense.
The objective of the main game mode is simple. You need to rescue your princess from the enemy’s castle whilst keeping their princess trapped in your own. To do this successfully will take teamwork. This is a class-based game and you choose your class by putting on one of five different types of hats generated by hat machines in your castle. The cool thing is, as people die on the battlefield, they drop their hats. So, if you want to change classes while out on the field, all you have to do is pick up any number of them lying on the ground.
The classes available are warrior, ranger, mage, priest and worker. Warriors are the tanks and can deal a lot of damage. Rangers are your ranged damage dealers. Mage can do range fire damage or use ice spells to slow people down, and he also has area attacks for group damage or freezing. The priest can either heal team-mates or drain health from enemies. Finally, the worker can collect resources (wood/ore) that are required to upgrade all the classes and he can build certain add-ons for the castle too. Examples of these are a catapult that can send a group of you flying across the map or (if they can get close enough) little ladders or jump pads up the walls into the enemy’s castle.
Each class is very simple to play but has their own little tactics that skilled players can learn to master. They also can all be upgraded with extra weapons and attacks. It is important that a team has a healthy mix of all classes, and each class is mostly well balanced to be both useful and a lot of fun to play.
The game has eight maps and they are all unique environments but some of these maps do not have enough options for storming the enemy castle. This can cause some games to become a stalemate. However, other maps have cool secret passages and other stuff that make sneak attacks something to watch out for. This makes the game more fun and interesting.
Perhaps the best thing about the game is its character. This is a very charming game filled with bright colours and a fun art style. The cartoon violence reminds me of the series Happy Tree Friends with wonderfully innocent music playing while body parts and pools of blood are spilled all over the cheerful looking maps. It is funny, cute and damn entertaining to watch the mayhem that happens on the screen.
And with up to 32 players, that is a lot of mayhem, or at least it should be. I have a decent internet connection at home but for some reason I was only allowed to play in games with up to 16 players online. This does make me wonder how many New Zealand players will be able to experience the full 32 players online experience. I also occasionally had problems finding a game, as well as problems with hosts dropping out and lag. Happily, developers Titan Studios say that they're well aware of the problems, and a patch is on the way shortly.
If you don't want to venture online, the game has a short (2-3 hours) single-player campaign that tells a cute storybook tale and is basically an introduction to the different game modes. While there are the basic deathmatch and point capture objective games; it is the "rescue the princess" mode that is really the most fun (in my opinion anyway). There is also a special soccer map that is both cute and violent, because it is basically soccer where you get to kill the opposing players. It won’t hold your attention for long but is a nice little addition nonetheless. You can also play quick matches filled with bots, which with our internet speeds may be the only way some of us can experience a game with 32 characters in it. The bots are pretty dumb though.
So why is the game called Fat Princess? Well, if you keep feeding the princess pieces of cake you find all over the map she will get fat… really fat. The advantage of this is that it makes it more difficult to rescue the princess, as a heavier princess will slow down the guy trying to carry her back to their castle. Your team can help you carry her to speed things up, but that requires good teamwork.
Here lies one of Fat Princess's biggest problems. This game is build around teamwork and unfortunately not everyone who owns a PS3 also owns a headset. This makes it almost impossible to communicate with your team and be able to efficiently work together. There is no mini-map (a design decision completely beyond my understanding) and only a large map that takes up half the screen when you bring it up. This makes no sense to me for such a team focused game and can make it a frustrating experience at times.
As you play the game you unlock different options for customising your character (hairstyle, eye colours, skin colours, beards etc). You can also choose whether to have a male or female voice and some of the lines in this game are hysterical When I first heard this cute little voice say 'Who's your daddy" I accidentally banged the back of my head against the wall because I was laughing so hard. There are other great lines like “noob”, or my personal favourite “fracking toaster”
There is a lot more to Fat Princess than it first seems, but in the end it is one of the most charming games I have played since LittleBigPlanet. Nevertheless, my concern is that its replayabilty may be limited for most players. The first few games will be a lot of fun, however unless you have a headset or a group of friends to play with, you may find yourself moving onto another game soon. Fat Princess simply has too few communication features for such a team focused game (not to mention no clan support). It also has quite a few bugs that can end up ruining a match - like when one team’s princess completely disappears (yes, that happened). But in the end it is also a great game that is tons of fun.
Plus I have to give it special praise for having one of the best playable and hysterical game credits I have ever seen. Cake for all!