Alright, I admit it. When I was given this code to review, I was apprehensive. After all, the last Naughty Bear title was anything but a great effort. However, 505 Games has done what few have done in the past -- they have improved upon the original tenfold, making this successor both highly addictive and entertaining.
The story, which is just there like it is in any horror show, is short and only provides a misguided motivation for the carnage that is going to ensue. Naughty Bear’s friends are all having a party on a tropical island paradise only YOU weren’t invited. Of course, they all have to die. This time around though, you have stealth and dozens of environmental objects at your disposal to help you out. When the game starts, you are dumped in the middle of a courtyard with varying numbers and types of other bears wandering around aimlessly. You are given three main objectives to complete, but here is where this game departs the norm and makes the game infinitely more playable. You don’t have to complete the main goals all at once. Your bear can progress through 100 levels or so of character development, attachments, weapons, clothing, etc. You cannot, and will not, get everything on your first play through. In fact, in all likelihood, you will not even have enough bears to kill to complete the three main objectives without some meticulous planning.
Bears can be scared by Naughty using the L2 button. Give it a quick tap, and our anti-hero meekly says “boo” to get a bears’ attention. Hold it down, and the fury fiend lets out a mighty “BOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” to scare bears far and wide. And, again like horror movies, some bears will come running to see what the noise was. The game’s stealth mechanic is a two-fold strategic one, in that you regain your stamina faster while hidden in the woods. This comes into play when you are running to catch a bear who is trying to phone for help, or if you need to recover from being chased. While hidden in the woods, the other bears literally cannot see you. They won’t come in the woods after you either. The trade off on this is that each bear has exactly 180 degrees of vision to catch you being bad. You have to be creative to find ways to get behind these bears, as it is incredibly easy for them to spot you. One thing that helps is that you can carry the bears into the woods and strip their costumes off. While in that outfit, the other bears treat you like a friend.
You can walk anywhere, do whatever you want as long as another bear doesn’t see you being naughty. The levels are also littered with items you can sabotage in order to attract bears. For instance, the bears love cookouts, so if you disable their grill one is sure to come and try to mend it. While they are doing so, you can sneak up behind them and ram their fluffy little head into the fire. Another level has you force feeding gasoline to the main target and throwing a match at him. In addition to all of the environmental kills and object kills, Naughty can pick up any number of hundreds of weapons and traps that he comes across. Rakes, machetes, venus fly traps just to name a few. How or when you take out these bears is entirely up to you. You can even throw them in the water for sharks to feast on.
Completionists will love this title as there is so much to do and so many different ways to earn as many points as you can by frightening and mutilating all of the other bears . People used to not replaying levels, or who don’t care to experiment, are unlikely to get much value in this title. The graphics are nothing of note, but do the trick. Control is tight with only minor niggles on the camera angles. The game’s aural presentation is where it truly lacks any sort of imagination, though. It’s a minimalistic effort, with only grunts and giggles – or if you do your job properly, screams – emanating from the Island’s inhabitants. The only words spoken come from the narrator who offers hints and sets up the next levels narrative.
Naughty Bear Panic in Paradise is not a game for everyone. Some will find it childish in nature, or complain that it is too simplistic. For me, this is where it finds its humor and charm. It is apparent from the start that they had nothing but fun in mind with the loading screens and title screen; pressing square on these screens yields a small, but humorous reward that I won’t spoil here. Panic in Paradise is twisted in a dark way, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you are willing to just let go of preconceived notions and actually have fun with a game, then by all means snag this title and give it a go. As far as downloadable, inexpensive games go, this one will give you a lot of bang for your buck.
-The Final Word-
If you're willing to let go of preconceived notions and have fun with a game, then snag this title and give it a go.
|Platforms reviewed : PSN|