Lollipop Chainsaw Review (PS3)

“This is awful, but hilarious!”

You're half-way right, sure.

As quoted from one of Lollipop Chainsaw's supporting cast members, this game isn't beating around the bush. It's self-aware, crude, and at times, over indulgent. With the likes of Killer7 and Shadows of the Damned in his back catalogue, Suda51 has never approached games from a traditional perspective. With Grasshopper, generic doesn't happen. This latest title certainly distinguishes itself from the hack 'n slash pack with a flurrying of rainbows and helping of smut, but oddly, the constant need for attention quickly tarnishes any immediate attractiveness.

Strip the make-up away from Lollipop Chainsaw, and the result is as dumb and shallow as lead heroine Juliet. Superficially, she's the Western definition of perfection: blonde, busty, and naïve enough to remain innocent. At 18, her upbringing alongside a family of zombie hunters leads her to be the saviour of her school, and as many classmates as possible. With a lollipop between her lips and chainsaw between her hands, Juliet embarks on a mission to decapitate as many of the undead as she possibly can. On paper, this sounds endlessly fun.

You'll be hard pushed to find another girl who'll let you do this for under $30

In reality, it's rather bland. Many players will approach this game in search of the silly one-liners, and of course, they're here in abundance. Juliet will constantly moan about her “fat ass”, while male characters call her a slut and reveal they want to first themselves with her head. Seriously. For the most part, this kind of obvious innuendo isn't particularly funny or shocking. Every now and then a sarcastic comment from Juliet's bodiless companion Nick will raise a smile, but the rest of the writing fails to decide what it wants to achieve.

For a game that is constantly splattered with colour, it's amazing how the combat becomes so tiresome. When tackling zombies, Juliet isn't as nimble as someone like Bayonetta. Her arsenal is limited, and animations flinch to a stuttering end. Linking attacks together doesn't offer much of a reward, as until the latter stages of the game, there isn't a particularly strong move worth learning. Most enemies will be despatched using the same three moves. If performed correctly, this will still produce a decent enough score for the online leaderboards.

Bosses are brilliantly designed, but so boring to fight

Combat is occasionally broken up with other activities, but these don't become interesting until the game nears its end. Zombie basketball sounds fun, but essentially, the same combat leads to the same result. Shooting sections are worse than the Big Boner moments in Shadows of the Damned, which is no mean feat. Far more interesting is driving a combine harvester through fields of zombies, and entering the local arcade for an interesting spin on retro games such as Pacman. With a little bit of imagination, Lollipop Chainsaw starts to show its potential.

Locations are visually diverse, but the structure of each level plays a huge part in the game's downfall. I have no problem with linearity. The problem is, when the first couple of hours are spent trekking through school corridor after school corridor, enthusiasm for the remainder is lost. You're forced to fight your way out of rooms before a QTE sees you chainsaw your way out. Linearity doesn't have to be repetitive or restrictive, but here, it dampens any sense of enjoyment the game eventually musters up.

Bosses also serve up a number of questions. All are reduced to form-changing, multiple-layered fights that are too predictable to celebrate. The characters themselves are well designed and interesting to encounter, so each feels like an opportunity missed. Again, it is Nick who softens the blow, his witty comments adding to the fight quite considerably. Wacky characters are mixed with vanilla design, forging an odd mix of intrigue and disappointment.

Lollipop Chainsaw it at its best when it decides to do things differently

A consistent success throughout this title is the excellent soundtrack. An eclectic mix of Skrillex, Toni Basil and Dead or Alive mimic proceedings brilliantly, even adding a few chuckles here and there. This is the kind of smart touch that is missing for the most part, as Suda's work excels at its most subtle.

Even for a budget title, Lollipop Chainsaw has plenty of shortcomings. Repetitive combat, bland levels and an insistence on sexual humour will leave many players disappointed. That said, it does produce a few moments worthy of your time. Eventually, the force-feeding of silliness works against Suda's adventure, and manages to become incredibly forgetful. She may be young, but Juliet has a lot to learn.

Top Gaming Moment: 'You Spin Me Right Round' playing whilst slaughtering zombies with a combine harvester.

Platform Played: PlayStation 3

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