Lollipop Chainsaw REVIEW
Juliet always has time to pose for the camera.
Release Date: 15 June 2012
Format reviewed: PS3 (also available on Xbox 360)
Publisher: Warner Bros
Lollipop Chainsaw wants to be the most outrageously provocative game you’ve ever played. Whether it succeeds is largely dependent on your tolerance for relentless blood, sex and swear-soaked satire.
Ditzy heroine Juliet is an 18-year-old cheerleading zombie killer who wears a physics-defying miniskirt and her boyfriend’s sentient severed noggin on her belt. It’s Juliet’s destiny to stop goth-kid-gone-crazy Swan, who has opened a portal to Rotten World and unleashed the shambolic undead within.
It could be considered the ultimate bad-taste videogame, Americana gone mad, but thanks to a genuinely funny script and the complete conviction with which the game embraces its absurd spirit, it’s never less than entertaining – if not always a sugar-sweet experience.
The hack ‘n’ slash combat mechanics disappoint most. At its most basic, you daze deadheads with pom-poms before lopping their heads off with a swift swing of a chainsaw – but instead of spurts of blood there are bursts of glitter and colour. It’s sparkly and satisfying to begin with, but rainbows soon make way for repetition – particularly as you’re unlikely to unlock all of Juliet’s combos in a single play-through.
Level design doesn’t help. There are a pleasing variety of environments, from familiar Sunnydale-like high schools to skyscraper arcades, but tedious corridors and kill boxes dominate. To their credit, developer Grasshopper clearly recognised this shortcoming and litter the levels with fun mini-games, quick-time events and constant changes of pace. A few of these fall flat, but most enhance the anarchic sense that anything could happen at any time.
Those familiar with the work of mad-genius games designer Suda 51 (Killer 7, No More Heroes, Shadows Of The Damned) will know exactly what to expect. His outsider’s perspective of Western culture is given added bite by Slither/Super writer/director James Gunn. This pair are the reason to play the game, along with the incredible soundtrack – a mix of classic bubblegum pop (“Mickey” plays every time you activate a special power) and catchy original tracks. The ability to create your own playlist of background music is a neat touch.
Surreal, silly and occasionally downright stupid, if you’re not on board with Lollipop Chainsaw from the opening frames it’s more likely to horrify than win you over. At five to six hours it’s not a lengthy experience, though it is designed to be played more than once. Problem is, unless you’re a high score chaser or simply have to unlock Juliet’s sexy underwear costume, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to.
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