Review: Naughty Bear
A game about a psychotic bear on a serial killing rampage. Sounds like the best game conceivable. But so often great ideas are suqandered with terrible execution.
- Worth The Time?Not for more than 30 minutes
- Things LovedNaughty Bear as a character, nursery rhyme/slasher movie soundtrack, storybook level design, bears talk in squeaks.
- Things HatedIndoor camera angles, shallowness, repetitive, bugged visuals, pointless narrative, no motive to continue past the 2nd story mission, lack of diversity in weapons, multiplayer lacks variety
- RecommendationIt doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, don’t buy this game. It’s definitely worth renting, but past the first hour you will begin to wonder why you paid 600 bucks for it.
- Name: Naughty Bear
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1-4
- Multiplayer: Online
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Artificial Mind & Movement
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Price: R600
- Reviewed On: PS3
Naughty Bear is an inadequate attempt at making a game with dark humour. It’s lacking, shallow, bugged and pointless. I would love to just leave it there and not have to pour vinegar on my fresh wounds but I suppose I do need to explain myself.
Naughty Bear showed a lot of promise in the months leading up to its release, there were perhaps only two actual gameplay trailers, excluding the E3 demo that was showcased, and the rest were all creative and entertaining recreations of well-known scenes from popular horror/thriller movies, using bears instead of people of course.
It all gave the sense that this was a game that would show gamers a good time and provide us with lots of fun. Everything was pointing towards Naughty Bear becoming the soul successor to Conker’s Bad Fur Day which is generally regarded as one of the funniest and most-entertaining games of the decade. Alas, it failed spectacularly.
If you don’t know by now, the basic premise of Naughty Bear is as follows (proceed to the next paragraph if you do but do not collect R200 on your way), you play as Naughty Bear. An outcast, pariah and all-round weirdo, he is constantly scorned and left out when the other bears do anything. One day he is not invited to Daddles’ birthday party (yes, I know) and decides, with the help of a very persuasive narrative voice, that enough is enough and then proceeds to basically massacre everyone he possibly can in any way he possibly can. Once you’ve completed this task, the rest of the game boils down to a series of random events that each require some unsuspecting bear to be punished.
The gameplay is perhaps one of the greatest letdowns of this game. It is shallow and flawed but also struggles to be coherent at times. The game is split into 7 chapters. Each chapter contains 5 episodes: a straight-forward story mission and four challenges based on the story mission which we’ll get to a little later. All story missions follow a very monotonous blueprint: a bear does something to piss Naughty Bear off and must therefore be punished. You start each mission off in Naughty’s cabin and then proceed on to a designated area. Here you will have to amass a certain number of Naughty points to cross a bridge (sometimes you may have to cross two bridges) thereafter you will enter the final zone where the respective irksome bear is to be found. Your task is to then ‘punish’ him and return to Naughty’s cabin when you’re done.
Points can be acquired by doing just about anything. You earn points for destroying property, being seen and for setting traps. The big points are to be had in killing bears though. You earn a substantial number through attacking bears with your weapon, which can be anything from a golf club to an Uzzi, and when you’ve worn a bear down far enough you’ll get to perform a special kill. Each weapon has its own special kill but this quickly gets tiresome as there are only a handful of weapons in the entire game.
The most fun is to be had in sabotaging machines and devices. Bears will then try to fix the damaged article whereupon you will be able to sneak up on them and perform a special contextual kill, such as when a bear is repairing a power box, Naughty will shove their head into the box electrocuting them to death. Perhaps the best though is to sabotage a freezer and then shove the bear that’s repairing it in. The bear will then pop out as a massive ice cube. The most rewarding, however, is to drive a bear insane by making them witness too much naughtiness. All it then takes is little scare and the bear will commit suicide.
While you’re on your rampage, some bears will try to escape by boat or drive away and others will try to call for help. You’ll be alerted to this and will then have a short window of time in which to stop them from succeeding and bringing the Fuzz to the party. As you progress through the game, the ‘help’ that other bears call for will get progressively tougher and the AI will get slightly more intelligent. As you get further and further in the game, you will encounter enemies such as soldiers, ninja, robots and even zombies.
It is a truly curious thing when straight from the get-go bears start taking refuge in a building or outhouse and barricading the doors. Some bears will take charge and give orders to other bears. Initially, bears will wander back outside fairly quickly, but as the game progresses, you will have to wait longer and longer for them to come out and play. It quickly becomes more worthwhile to simply storm into whatever building they’ve taken refuge in and drive them out. This is beneficial to your point multiplier, which goes up every time you do something naughty, but begins to drop when you aren’t doing anything. There are, however, pick-ups called Freeze capsules which freeze your multiplier for a short period of time – in which it can go up but will not drop.
Like any good psychopath, Naughty Bear can be killed but, to prevent this from happening, all you need to do is eat some cake which can be found all over the environments. Each environment is relatively small, comprising of only 2 or 3 main buildings and about 4 or 5 little sheds and outhouses. For this compromise in size though, you get a fully interactive environment where almost anything can be destroyed or sabotaged and all buildings can be fully explored. As bright and perky as that may sound, it’s a gunshot wound in the foot because there are literally only 4 different environments in the entire game, all linked by bridges. Another thing about the environments is that they all have patches of forestry around the perimeter which Naughty Bear can hide in.
After completing a story mission, you will be able to unlock challenges for that chapter which are basically the story missions all over again except you have to adhere to completing the level in a specific way. Depending on how many points you rack up in a level, you will receive either a bronze, silver or gold Naughty Cup. You need a certain number of Naughty Cups to unlock new episodes. You especially need these cups to progress further in the story. This helps give the challenges some sort of meaning and therefore forces you to do at least some of them.
There are 7 different types of challenges:
- Killer: Kill everybody in the level
- Untouchable: Complete the level without taking any damage
- Friendly: Complete the level without hitting anybody, only kill bears with contextual kills
- Speed Run: Complete the level before the timer runs out
- Insanity: Drive a predetermined number of bears insane
- Invisible: Complete the level without being seen
- Top Hat: Score as many points as you possibly can
There is an ever-present online element to the game in that when selecting an episode/challenge to play through, a leaderboard will appear next to the episode select box with the highest scores for that particular episode. If you do well enough in an episode, you will receive a badge which is typically a perk such as extra health or damage for use in multiplayer. You will also be able to acquire up to 30 different hats and costumes which can be used in both single and multiplayer. All of them offer different stats with some focusing on strength, others on health and so on. The costumes offer another use in single-player in that they act as disguises and allow Naughty to walk freely amongst the other bears without being detected.
The multiplayer is perhaps even more limited and shallow than the single-player. There are only 4 different modes and 3 different maps although the environments are all very much the same.
- Assault: Two teams battle it out, each defending their own Unibear statue while trying to destroy the other team’s
- Cake Walk: Whoever finds and holds the Golden Cupcake for the selected period of time wins
- Golden Oozy: Use the Golden Oozy to kill as many bears as possible, first one to reach the kill limit wins
- Jelly Wars: Play on a team of regular bears who must fight off Naughty Bear while trying to bring Jellies to the Mixing Machine
Despite the multiplayer being exceptionally shallow, it does offer a semblance of fun, provided you can find people willing to play or even people who are willing to stay for the whole match. It happened to me twice where I created a game and then could not find anybody who was willing to play, then I joined another game and before I could even take my first step, the guy who created the game left. For some reason, you also have the choice of what time of day the match will take place in and whether players will be allowed either melee, ranged (guns) or all kinds of weapons. That’s about as far as you can go with regard to customising your match in Naughty Bear.
Technically, the game is a bit of a mess at times. Bears will often go through the ground when you kill them and will get caught in doorways on the odd occasion. The frame-rate begins to chug when there is too much happening on screen and the camera angles can literally spaz out when you pass through a doorway. It will often switch very erratically and to an angle that doesn’t always make sense. It also becomes damn near impossible to see bears in the dark which is what you will have to do at various points in the game. While the environment may be creatively designed, the character models are not quite so. Upon closer inspection you will notice that most of the bears appear to have been made from shredded paper. They are either uneven or just too smooth and flat. Regardless, it’s difficult to tell that these bears are actually furry. The game really does not feel like it belongs on next-gen consoles. It would probably be better suited for the PS2 to be honest.
To sum it up, this game is just lacking in all areas. Yes, it is rather fun for the first hour (less even) but past that, you would’ve seen everything that the game has to offer. One credit that the game does deserve is that you feel like a serial killer, trying to keep control of the situation, intimidating bears and just plain f***ing shit up. Otherwise, the promise and hype that was built up by all those cult horror classics done in NB style has set Naughty Bear up to fail even harder than it should.
The game does not bring fresh things in as it progresses but relies on floating through off the hope that the player will still be mesmerised by the novelty of playing as a serial killer bear even after literally doing the same thing over and over again. Oh and don’t be fooled by the promise of squaring off against Zombears, Unibears or even Robobears in the latter part of the game, because it’s overrated and feels like you’re killing just another bear.
Kudos to the guy who came up with this concept, but the game itself just doesn’t have enough to keep things from getting boring, monotonous and the player from becoming disinterested.
This game is certainly worth renting, just for that first hour of actual fun and for the chance to experience the truly novel feeling of playing as a serial killing bear. But don’t allow yourself to play for more than an hour, once that hour is up, rip the game out of your console and send it back to where it came from. It may have been worth it as a downloadable game but is certainly nowhere near up to scratch to cut it as a full game. There really is nothing motivating you to go any further than the 2nd story mission.
Yes, you can unlock new hats and costumes and maybe some new badges but it’s not like there’s any real reason to use them and I doubt that anybody will be itching to play the multiplayer after trying it out. Naughty Bear just feels incomplete. The whole game feels like different versions of a demo that’s supposed to give you a taste of what the game’s about. Sadly what you get is all there is to the game. There is some DLC planned for release but it’s doubtful that it can really change the face of this shallow and disappointing pool of failure.