Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Game Review: Lollipop Chainsaw

Attractive girls can kill zombies too...

Lollipop Chainsaw has been surrounded by controversy. It has been accused from many corners of objectifying women, perpetuating stereotypes and being downright crude. But what all of the publicity has tended to leave in the dark is - it's a pretty average game. The opening cinematic plays out like a nineties chick flick along the same lines as Clueless and heroine Juliet is equally as vapid as the film's Cher. The melange of the undead and high school drama isn't exactly original but provides the foundation for a story which is at times genuinely witty and entertaining, despite its self-conscious ridiculousness.

Juliet Starling is a chainsaw-wielding, cheer leading, scantily clad, blonde bombshell, whose ditsy dialogue often invokes eye-rolling and the occasional chuckle. As she fights her way across her hometown she is accompanied by boyfriend, who thanks to an unfortunate zombie-biting incident at the beginning of the game, is now a decapitated but animate head.

Comic book style animation and stills combined with a cel-shaded colourful approach provide Chainsaw with a fresh, endearing look which combines perfectly with the light-hearted comedy which is at the heart of the game. It is a shame that so much of the animation is dedicated to Juliet in compromising positions; never a cut scene goes by without an up skirt shot, which is ironic given that an achievement is awarded for managing this in-game. Unfortunately, this does not even scratch the surface of the misogynistic behaviour that Juliet is subjected too. She is frequently called a 'whore' or 'bitch' and one of her classmates tells her he will 'totally masturbate to you tonight'.

The controls are your basic hack and slash. Juliet has a pom-pom stunning attack as well as her basic chainsaw move. I often found the controls to be sluggish and at times even unresponsive. The combo moves are simple button combinations but only a couple seem to hit consistently. After gaining enough meter Juliet can unleash her super mode which allows her to take out zombies in one hit while 'Hey Mickey' plays in the background - CAUTION: you will know most of the words by the end of the game if you don't already. Juliet gains other super moves throughout the rest of the game, involved propelling Nick out of a cannon and gaining a super blaster projectile weapon which is probably the most accurate weapon. Juliet does a dance after racking up some combo kills which leaves her vulnerable to attack, which can be very irritating and damaging if she is in the middle of a group of zombies.

There is little in the way of original features on offer in Chainsaw. Some of the stages have some quirky features, such as the hallucinogenic farm area which allows you to plough through a field of zombies on a combine harvester and the Funland stage which features Pacman and Pong influenced levels.

If the tiny outfits, misogynist comments and dodgy controls haven't put you off yet, it is purely because of the humour. While Juliet's remarks often fall flat ('you're like a kitten, a kitten that doesn't speak Japanese') her boyfriend's banter is what keeps the comedy in the game. With gems such as 'This is so much fun, I almost forgot all my friends are dead!'. However, the main problem with Chainsaw, is that the line between satire and filth is constantly blurred. What begins as an ironic poke at American culture quickly becomes an excuse to objectify Juliet in every way possible, leaving an uncomfortable aftertaste. Some of the worst moments include Juliet revealing her aged Sensei taught her how to pole dance and gave her some 'sweet lap dancing moves'.

While the controls are temperamental and the behaviour towards Juliet outrageous, Lollipop Chainsaw offers some entertainment. Juliet is far from an engaging protagonist but Nick and family go a little way in making up for that. If you can look past the often distasteful but sometimes witty jokes and see the game for what it is - a bit of fun - Lollipop Chainsaw is a reasonable way to spend a couple of hours and empty your head.

Developer: Kurukowa Games/Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc.
Platforms: PS3 & Xbox 360
Genre: Hack & Slash/Horror
Release Date: 15 June 2012
Price: £29.99/$59.99

By Emma-Lee Davidson


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