Last year, there were two games that really made an impression on me, Left 4 Dead and Viva Piņata: Trouble in Paradise. While Viva Piņata was cute enough to make Hello Kitty jealous, Left 4 Dead just wasn't cute enough. Fortunately, the folks at Valve as well as Rare and Microsoft Game Studios have combined forces to create the most intriguing cross-over ever: Left 4 Piņatas: Sour Infestation.
The premise here is simple. Remember those pesky sour piņatas from previous Piņata games? Well, while you were busy gardening, they were busy eating brains! The sour piņata problem started getting out of control and soon they started overtaking the Piņata Planet. Now there are only four piņatas left: the svelte Syrupent, the nonchalant Bonboon, the experienced Squazzil, and the possibly formerly incarcerated Mousemellow. Although these piņatas come from all walks (or crawls) of life, they all join together in the Garden of Death in order to make the piņatas last stand.
Together, these piņatas must fight against the evolved forms of sour piņatas, which include the tongue lashing Mallowolf, the morbidly obese Chippopotamus (who tends to puke a lot), and the sneaky Whirlm. These sour piņatas' only weakness seems to be specially outfitted candy shotguns, which spew sweet treats at such a high velocity that it can take a sour's head off. Of course, decapitation is the only way to keep a bad piņata down, so you'll have to really perfect that headshot.
While Left 4 Piņatas' story mode is plenty of fun to play through online, the three extra modes, Bloodbath, Slaughter, and Dismemberment are what really make this game worth the purchase. Bloodbath is the most straightforward mode, as it sends hordes of sours towards your team of four, and it will be your job to kill as many piņatas as possible before succumbing to the dark piņata abyss yourself.
Slaughter mode flips this idea and allows you to take the role of a sour piņata and kill all the regular piņatas as fast as possible. The final mode, Dismemberment, lets you play through selected modes with genetically mutated piņatas who can only be killed by brutally pulling off their extremities with a specially made weapon: the taffy maker buzzsaw.
In addition to these gameplay modes, there is also a sour breeding mode, similar to those found in other Viva Piņata games. However, instead of putting two loving piņatas together in a home and playing a mini-game, you must put two bloodthirsty piņatas together in a cage and assemble a new, hybrid piņata out of the pieces that are left once the carnage is done. The new, hybrid piņata will then be stored in the Necro-Piņata-Nomicon and can be summoned by the living piņatas.
Overall, Left 4 Piņatas is the best game I have played so far this year. The gory visuals are amazing to behold, and all the different modes ensure you will be chopping up piņatas for quite some time. Well, at least until the handheld follow-up, Vicious Pinata: The Last Stand arrives on the new Xbox LIGHT!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor