|System: PS3 (PSN)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Titan Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 30, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-32||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
As a reviewer of video games, I often have to slog through poorly contrived titles that are simply a waste of my time. By the same token, there are also many great games out there I get to analyze that keenly remind me why I love the video gaming industry. Fat Princess is one of those titles. Heading online and taking on more than 30 other players in a mad dash to reap carnage and steal back your porcine princess from the clutches of your foes is an absolute delight. While the concept is simple, there's enough complexity and polished touches to keep gamers playing this one for years to come.
In Fat Princess, players are divided into two opposing armies: Red Team vs. Blue Team. In the offline mode of play, these competing kingdoms are fighting to capture the other side's monarch before the fabled Prince Albert comes to the land. You see, by kidnapping the other princess, yours is free to marry Prince Charming without competition from her rival, ensuring your kingdom's prosperity. Along the way, giggle-inducing storyboards tell the tale in bright, cheery, hilarious fashion. This single-player story mode is divided into chapters and serves both as the tutorial and a clever introduction to the game types. The storybook presentation and the excellent environment / character design gets players ready and raring to go. Additionally, quick play as well as an arena-based gladiatorial mode are available for players to hone their skills.
While "Playing with Yourself" is a great way to learn the ins and outs of gameplay, "Playing with Others" is how this game is meant to be played. Fat Princess allows up to 32 players to head online and battle it out for supremacy. Each individual is allowed to customize their character with silly beards, hairstyles, and skin tones, as well as choose their role on the battlefield. Unlike your character's visage, players can change out their role on the fly by picking up hats in the leftover gore strewn across the environment or from hat machines back at their team's castle. While players are bound to find a couple of roles they prefer, each of the five character types (Priest, Warrior, Ranger, Wizard, and Worker) are essential and fun to use.
Each role has a standard and charged attack. Priests are healers that support others well by targeting individual players or healing a group with an area of effect spell. Likewise, Wizards can choose between different spell types and damage individuals or groups with their magical attacks. Warriors and Rangers are the primary attacking units. Warriors have a lot of health and can get right into the mix, causing havoc to the enemy. Rangers are better served by standing back and firing their missiles into the crowd. Regardless, their charged shots do massive damage to occupied foes. Workers, at least initially, aren't attacking units. Rather, they are there to collect resources, feed the captured princess (in order to make her fat and difficult to move), construct siege implements (bridges, ladders, catapult platforms, etc.), and destroy enemy emplacements, such as castle gates, efficiently.
As if five main character types didn't provide enough variety, teams can also upgrade their roles by collecting resources. Once a hat machine has been upgraded, you can then use that role's alternative abilities. For example, Rangers upgrade their arsenal from bows and arrows to a blunderbuss that's deadly at close-range. Moreover, Priests are able to switch from healing to health draining. This is extremely effective against groups of enemies because you can drain their life-force down to near zero and have your buddies mop them up. Workers also become far less passive after the upgrade. Not only can they do all the busy tasks to support your team, they eventually become bombardiers and are very efficient at taking out enemies from the periphery with their grenade-like attacks.
Being able to choose from a ton of battlefield roles keeps gameplay very fresh. Also, it adds an element strategy to the game initially belied by the simple button inputs. Working together with buddies online with the right mix of characters is utterly devastating and supremely satisfying. Adding to the strategy, the varied map types (nine in total) force players to conquer their enemies in different ways.
Finally, the game also offers four different scenario types that help mix things up. Rescue the Princess is the standard game format that has your army trying to capture the other team's princess while retaining yours within the friendly confines of your castle. Have both princesses in your possession for 30 seconds and you win. Snatch n' Grab has your team simply kidnapping the other princess three times (first team to three wins). Team Deathmatch is merely a matter of killing the other team enough until their pool of respawn points dwindles to nothing. In Invasion, teams have to capture control points called outposts throughout the map. By controlling at least 50% of them, your team will chip away at the other team's morale reserves until victory is attained. Every game mode is a bunch of fun, requiring subtle strategic changes. However, Rescue the Princess is likely to be the majority of players' favorite mode.