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Naughty Bear PS3 mixes ultra-violence with cute and cuddly - and creates a disturbingly hilarious game. Take revenge in the deadliest way possible on all those Care Bear inspired toys. The technology and techniques combine to offer a full-on game that is as much Grand Theft Auto as it is Build a Bear.
For those with a twisted sense of humour Naughty Bear will deliver the kind of experience that would make Jason Vorhees blush - if you see him through the ski-mask. One part open world exploration, one part cutesy brawler, Naughty Bear collides the worlds of sweet and violent with this hilarious revenge tale.
Playing the part of the titular Naughty Bear you soon find yourself as a spurned and rejected teddy bear living on paradise island. Instead of working through these issues with peaceful therapy, Naughty Bear decides to wreak his revenge on the bear community in the most violent, hilarious and sometimes disturbing way possible.
I was impressed with the technical design here. The developers haven't limited the scope of the game to just a novelty outing. You have the freedom to approach revenge as you wish because the game reveals itself to be an enormous playground of violence that's limited only by your imagination. Though it seems sociopathic at first glance, Naughty Bear is tongue in cheek throughout.
When I told my friends about this their eyes widened at the prospect of causing a Grand Theft Auto level of chaos within such a cutesy setting.
Progress through the game is via acts of naughtiness. You can win a certain number of points from each enemy bear. Once you've accumulated enough the next stage becomes available. It's a simple structure that has a steady progression and scales well.
This game was most interesting to me because it shuns scripted set-pieces. Everything you do within the game is dynamic and each bear has their own personality and behave independently of each other. Beneath the cutesy surface there's a bubbling pool of dynamic algorithms working to create the potentially violent and hilarious outcomes. With so many variations in how the bears react to your dastardly acts, you can really get creative in how you manipulate the world.
A good example of this is driving a bear so mad it commits suicide. If other bears witness this horrific act then they too can go insane leading to a massive, cascading tide of cause and effect. Even just killing a single bear can have an effect on the others and timing all these events - as well as setting traps - can lead to some incredible and twisted moments.
Into this game-world the developers have added special types of bears. Ninja bears are my favourite because they offer the most entertaining variations of game play. Moving quickly, they can stalk you if you're not careful and many times I've been stabbed when my back has been turned.
To be honest I'd take a bog-standard death match with this art-style but these modes all sound wonderfully inventive.
Because of the dynamic game play even when you are struggling there is always the hope of turning the tables. Intelligent play, rather than straight up fighting is often the way to succeed. For instance, if you have unlocked the ninja costume all you have to do is murder another bear whilst wearing it and the whole community turns on the ninjas - inspired.
The multiplayer angle adds to this sense of freedom and creativity. A host of entertaining modes should keep you occupied for days. Assault is a typical team death match, control-point style variant but Golden Oozy and Jelly Wars mix things up a little in Naughty Bear's own unique way. Jelly Wars is perhaps my favourite as one player gets to play as Naughty Bear as he tries to sabotage or kill a team of normal bears that are trying to create a giant jelly. Nothing else sounds quite so odd nor plays quite so awesomely.
These modes are great fun but don't contain any of the dynamic game play of the main game, which for my technical sensibilities is the biggest flaw to Naughty Bear. I would have liked to see a genuine campaign co-op mode - two players in Naughty Bear's world with all the emergent game play and potential for creativity would have been awesome.
When first hearing about this game I dismissed it as another Fairytale Fights clone - destined to be nothing than an ultra-linear and dull experience with only a few game play hooks. But the open-ended nature of Naughty Bear for the PS3 and Xbox 360 and the range of personalities that each bear possesses, combined with the dynamic nature of the world has made this one of my favourite titles. It won't win awards for its compelling narrative or dramatic set-pieces, but the creative freedom you're given means this is one reason that it's good to be naughty over and over again.
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