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3/11/2013

REVIEW: Lollipop Chainsaw (Xbox 360)


Zombie apocalypse games seem to be getting more and more famous as the current generation of gaming keeps going. We’ve seen many that fall into the shooter category like Left 4 Dead and even casual mobile games like Plants vs. Zombies but Lollipop Chainsaw comes to the industry with a modified idea of what a Zombie crisis is supposed to be like, breaks tons of clichés and manages to end up being a fairly nice action game.

Lollipop Chainsaw tells the story of Juliet, a very beautiful and sexy student from San Romero High School who is also a cheerleader that loves to eat lollipops who finds herself in the middle of an on-going Zombie Apocalypse that starts in her very school. In the beginning of the game, she reveals to be a Zombie Hunter who kills the undead with a huge chainsaw, just like her parents and two weird sisters.

After a while, her boyfriend Nick gets beaten by a Zombie so she decapitates him and performs a Voo-Doo ritual on his head to stop him from dying and turning into an undead. She then decides to carry Nick’s head tied to her waist during the adventure into which she’ll try to kill thousands of Zombies, discover the reasons behind the crisis and stop it once and for all.

As you can see, the whole setting behind Lollipop Chainsaw is very strange and uncommon. Though the game has a fair amount of gore and badmouthing, most of it is filled with comedy, humor and comic-relief. The game doesn’t take itself seriously at any point and this makes it be a welcome and different take on a setting that we usually see as dark, sad and even very lonely.

In terms of graphics, Lollipop Chainsaw looks very nice for the most part. Many of its textures even use a small amount of cel-shading to make them feel like a comic book. There are some minor issues with the antialiasing and HDR in the Xbox 360 version as well as some camera issues when fighting many zombies at the same time in tight spaces like corridors but nothing really hinders the experience as a whole.

The use of colors is nice and the characters are very well-animated, at least the important ones. The frame rate is consistent for the most part though at some very specific points it can slow down if you let too many things happen in the screen at the same time. It’s not annoying, almost never happens, but it’s definitely there.

Musically, the game is like a tribute to Pop Culture. Using many famous songs like “Hey Mickey” which no one would have ever imagined being in a Zombie apocalypse game. You can like or dislike the soundtrack but the truth is that it fits with the setting and the feeling the game is trying to irradiate at all times.

Lollipop Chainsaw has a fantastic use of voice-acting, Juliet and Nick sound perfectly and have excellent lines that will definitely make you laugh several times through the game, other characters like Juliet’s pervert Japanese master or her crazy little sister sound awesome too. The entire game is voiced so no unnecessary reading will have to be done during it. Even the Zombies themselves talk and usually drop pretty funny lines when Juliet cuts them down with her chainsaw.

Then there’s the gameplay, where Lollipop Chainsaw takes many of the best aspects from similar titles (in gameplay) like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden to craft a combat system that is really varied, offers tons of options and most importantly, is very fun. Players will control Juliet around pressing buttons to jump, dodge attacks and use her chainsaw to cut enemies down in style.

As you advance through the game, you’ll earn money to buy different things like extra HP, more combos, different moves and even sexy outfits for Juliet. When you kill many zombies with a single strike, the money Juliet earns from that specific kill is multiplied, so it’s vital to try and kill this way as much as possible to have enough money to buy what you need and want as soon as you can.

During the game, many parts of it will try to vary the pace, making Juliet pole-dance to kill the Zombies, shoot enemies down turning her chainsaw into a rifle and even lure suicide-bomber Zombies to kill their own buddies. These parts of the game are well-done and very fun for the most part. Several sections will have her use Nick’s head to control decapitated corpses to help her destroy debris or lift heavy obstacles.

In her adventure, Juliet will visit many different parts of her town like the high school itself, stadium, farm, junkyard and even a very weird arcade building. Each of the areas have their own events, minigames, stories and most importantly, a very cool boss battle that will prove to be really challenging. All of these require specific tactics to be defeated so it’s not just attack and dodge on them. That definitely won’t work on bosses.

Besides the main story, which can be played in different difficulty levels, players can choose to replay the stage to beat a high-score to compete in online leaderboards, try to beat their own record and of course, earn most of the game’s Achievements in Xbox Live. Lollipop Chainsaw is rather short, most players will finish it in around 10 or 12 hours, maybe less and the score attack mode add a lot of replay value to it.

Lollipop Chainsaw, as a whole, reminds players of the past, when games didn’t necessarily try to be realistic, intense and overly mature to sell and cater to the tastes of a casual market that was not important at the time. Instead, this title tries to be unique, take a setting everyone seems to like a lot and turn it into something unusual, funny and at the same time, good and honestly, it does that right.

It’s almost a given that Lollipop Chainsaw will end up being a misunderstood game and even an underrated one because it just tries too hard to make focus in the humor, Juliet’s sexy looks and behavior, lack of sense and the comic-relief of the entire adventure instead of the blood-guns-undead formula.

The game is pretty good. It’s not perfect, it definitely won’t divide the industry in “before” and “after” and to be realistic, it won’t ever be famous at all. But Lollipop Chainsaw is definitely worth playing. The graphics are very cool just like the soundtrack, the voice-acting is simply fantastic and the gameplay is extremely fun, varied and offers tons of things to do and try from start to finish, and besides, Juliet is just too hot. To be honest, Lollipop Chainsaw is an underrated game that it’s definitely superior to more-famous titles that share genre with it. Everyone out there should try this game.


Pros:

-          Great setting focuses more on humor and comedy than anything else.
-          Solid gameplay with tons of things to do and minigames.
-          Juliet is a great main character.
-          Great boss battles.
-          Combat is varied with lots of combos and tools to use.
-          Voice acting is excellent.

Cons:

-          Some minor camera issues.
-          It’s easy not to like the soundtrack.


-          Graphics and Visuals………....8
-          Music and Sound Effects…......8
-          Gameplay………………….…8
-          Replay Value……………..…..8

-          Overall Score……………….. 8 / 10

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