Naughty Bear

Review

posted 7/26/2010 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360
The set-up to Naughty Bear sounds like the kind of thing you come up with at 4 in the morning after a night of drinking.  It's the kind of concept that sounds like pure genius when you've had a few shots, but in the morning you wonder what you were thinking.  Alas, apparently the party never stopped over at Artificial Mind and Movement. 

It's essentially Manhunt meets the Care Bears.  No, really.  You play Naughty Bear (that appears to be his name and not just a description), an ill-tempered loner.  Together he and the rest of the build-a-bear community live on Perfection Island, a picturesque world full of lush forests and clear water.  Today Naughty Bear is feeling especially left out, because he's the only guy on Perfection Island not invited to Daddle's birthday party.  So what does he do?  He decides to crash that birthday party ... and kill as many stuffed animals as possible along the way.


You do this in a variety of small, enclosed arenas masked as villages, factories and other areas on the island.  You can hide in the brush and plan your attack, attempting to use all those years of stealth training to your advantage.  In each stage you will have a checklist of tasks you need to do before moving on.  Most of these tasks involve you earning a certain amount of points, performing a certain move or destroying some sort of object in the level.  Even with these different objectives, you're constantly being asked to do the same thing throughout each of the game's seven areas.

You can go about your killing a number of different ways.  There's the direct way, which involves you rushing around and beating up anybody and everybody that gets in your way.  There are weapons for this, including everything from bats to axes to guns.  But there's another way to dispose of these unfriendly teddy bears.  You can always sabotage the world around you, damaging vehicles, putting down traps and breaking their arcade cabinets.  Once they go to fix one of these things you can sneak up behind them and finish them off.  These fatalities are no less graphic than what we saw in Manhunt, only with adorable bears and white stuffing instead of blood.


The game's intriguing premise sustains this game for at least an hour or two.  After that, though, you're on your own.  The problem with Naughty Bear is that once the novelty has worn off, all you're left with is a sub-par action game with poor controls and repetitive gameplay.  And that's before you realize that the whole game is buggy and will make your system freeze dozens of times.

You'll notice the problems right away.  Although this is intended to be a stealth action game, the control scheme feels like it was built for an incredibly shallow 2D brawler.  There's no button that presses you up against a wall or helps you avoid being seen.  You will never be mistaken for Solid Snake or Sam Fisher.  Hell, you don't even have the moves found in Gears of War, let alone a stealth action game.  The best you can do to hide is stick to the shrubbery, which masks you from the rest of the stuffed animals.  There's nothing about the way the game controls that suggests it was meant to be a stealth action game, yet the finished product clearly fits into that genre.
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