|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Artificial Mind and Movement||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 505 Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 29, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Leading to the release of Naughty Bear, the games PR machine was hitting on all cylinders. The slew of trailers being released were dark, humorous, and seemingly promised what would be a delightful, yet sadistic, adventure involving extreme bear-on-bear violence. While these trailers had me looking forward to the title, there was still a small amount of doubt in the back of my mind telling me not to get too excited. Now that Ive had a chance to actually play Naughty Bear, the only thing the back of my mind is telling me is I told you so.
For those who may be unaware, the actual premise behind Naughty Bear is a good one. Take one part Care Bears and one part Manhunt, then mix those together with a scoring system and youve got Naughty Bear. The titular character, Naughty, resides on an island with many other bear inhabitants who despise him and treat him poorly for seemingly no reason. That is, until he eventually grows tired of being ridiculed and decides to take out all his pent up aggression on those who have scorned him. What results is a series of episodes that give Naughty the chance to even the score with all his nasty neighbors.
Unfortunately, while this may sound great, there is not enough variety in the missions or gameplay to sustain interest throughout the entire experience. The gameplay is straightforward, giving you points based on how frightened you can make the other bears and how grizzly you can make their deaths. This involves stalking around the same few locales, setting traps, disabling phones, destroying escape vehicles, and slaughtering all the, hopefully, unsuspecting bears.
Traps, such as mines and bear traps, will temporarily incapacitate your enemy, allowing you to sneak up and scare them. This is accomplished by using the Boo button. Yes, there is such a thing. Pressing this button will have Naughty shout Boo in a frightening manner, further scaring your target and any nearby bears witnessing the event. If you can manage to scare a bear enough, you will eventually get the option to kill it using fright instead of weapons. When this occurs, the bear will use whatever weapon is in its hands to commit suicide, scoring you more points than youd get from taking it out the more old fashioned way. There are other ways to insight fear, like jumping out of closets or disabling something and spooking whoever comes to investigate. However, the options are still limited and it can be difficult to remain incognito when there are several bears around.
If you cant manage to remain hidden, a more direct approach may be required. Youll have your choice between several melee weapons and a few guns. While youll have access to knives, baseball bats, axes, and a few other unsavory tools of pain, each performs identically. No matter which melee weapon you choose, combat is resigned to just tapping a button to swing away at a bear until an indicator flashes, letting you know you can finally execute your foe. Each weapon has its own unique execution scene, however, these too get old fast.
Every episode in Naughty Bear starts off with a brief cinematic, which essentially always boil down to all the bears hate you so its time to kill them all. After these, you are given an objective (killing bears) that needs to be completed in order to progress. Successfully passing episodes can unlock new costumes, new episodes and sub-episodes, and multiplayer bonuses for Naughty.