It was a bit of a shock when Frozen Codebase President Ben Geisler showed up on the Official PlayStation Blog touting their upcoming game Kick-Ass The Game – which was to debut on the PlayStation Store only a few days later. The reactions on the blog post ranged from delighted to disgusted as gamers expressed either their excitement for the game for the price, the graphics, and the video of gameplay… or their personal disappointment at the price, the graphics, and the video of the gameplay. There’s no satisfying the PlayStation Nation sometimes.
We didn’t have long to wait to see how things would turn out: a mere 3 days after the announcement Kick-Ass The Game went live. At $14.99 the download is roughly in the middle of the pack for PSN games; Sony has embraced a pricing structure that has given developers more freedom to build bigger (and in some cases better) gaming experiences on the PSN. Kick-Ass The Game definitely lives up to the promise of a bigger experience with a ton of unlockables and hours of gameplay.
Kick-Ass The Game is rendered in 720p and features a 3/4 overhead view of the action. The camera is fixed, but there’s a strong sense of motion as you move through the game’s world. Colours are bright and cartoony–they’re exactly what you’d expect for a game that’s interpreting the movie version of the comic book world of Kick-Ass. Each of the characters animates well: whether you choose Kick-Ass, Big Daddy, or Hit Girl, you’ll see a combination of signature moves from the movie, melee combos, and special room-clearing abilities. These animations are smooth, and they flow well together.
The foes you’ll face have a limited number of moves, but given the volume of bad-guys you’re going up against you won’t notice it unless you look for it. There’s a sense of speed to the game that comes from how fast the protagonists move across the screen; it feels a little like skating sometimes, but that’s not a negative. It just lets you close distance a little faster so you can get back to the action.
In his original post to the Official PlayStation Blog, Ben Geisler mentions that the team spent more time on gameplay than graphics. That’s not a bad thing. The visuals are good, not great, but they’ll definitely suffice for what you want to. I have to say I absolutely loved the bloodied-touchscreen phone interface for the pause screen. That was a brilliant touch.
Kick-Ass The Game has a few great things going for it: first and foremost among them is the voice-work done by Chloe Moretz (Hit Girl) and Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass). Having the two of them on-board lends a huge sense of authenticity to the game and really makes it fun to play. Big Daddy wasn’t voiced by Nick Cage in the game (unfortunately) but the voice actor definitely gave it his all to do a decent impression. It’s not quite on, but it’s funny enough to pass. There are snippets of film dialogue that are interspersed with some of the in-engine scenes, I enjoyed having them there as they helped sell the whole concept for me.
Punches, kicks, explosions, and fire are all present and accounted for; it’s not the most visceral sound I’ve heard from a game, but it fits right in with the style they’re shooting for. There are video game power-ups, and video game special powers, so video game sounds are spot on. The music is an absolute riot; versions of some of the hits we heard in the film lace the high points of the game and it’s better for it. You’re never short of a beat when you’re laying a beat-down in this game.
Kick-Ass The Game has variety in gameplay. To start out, there’s the single-player and co-op two-player story mode. This option tracks a blend of the comic book and the movie as Kick-Ass and company make their way up the crime ladder, defeating boss after boss between waves of gangsters.
Combat is relatively simple; you’ve got a light attack, a heavy attack, three special attacks, and the ability to jump. The light attack chains together quickly as you hit the button, the heavy attack is useful for laying out groups of foes, and the special attacks… well, they’re your bread and butter. The rechargeable energy bar gives you a certain amount of juice you can use on these attacks, giving you the chance to fire-bomb the enemy, or shower them in bullets, and more. The specials are real game-changers, and given the quantity of enemies you’re going to be up against you’ll need them.You’ll need to think strategically, as you’ll get laced if you treat the game as a button masher.
One of the coolest elements, however, is the persistent leveling system; you’ll start to accumulate XP from the first enemy you pummel, and you’ll start gaining levels shortly after. That’ll give you the opportunity to bolster your defences, enhance your attacks, and power-up your specials. You’ll do so through the “faceplace” site in the pause menu; it’s a not-so-subtle joke but it remains funny every time you click through.
On normal difficulty Kick-Ass The Game isn’t too hard and it isn’t too easy. While it’s fun in single-player mode, it’s a blast when you’re playing co-op; brawlers are best played with a friend. The gameplay reminds me of the Hunter series on the Xbox, though the challenge isn’t quite as sadistic as those games were. If you die in co-op your partner can revive you by holding the circle button while their character is positioned near your body. Note: you don’t want to try this when there are still baddies in the room. If both of you hit the deck, you’re dead, but you’ll respawn at the last of many checkpoints, keeping the game moving forwards.
There is a healthy number of unlockables, including comic book covers, clips from the movie, and an arena mode where you can face unending waves of gangsters. The final unlockable clip is my favourite part of the movie, and thus felt like a fantastic reward when I got it. While the game features no real “cutscenes” of its own, the comic-book interludes really work for it and help land the comic/movie blend that the developers were shooting for.
As I mentioned earlier, the controls feel a bit icy at times, with your heroes gliding around like they’re on skates. That’s not a bad thing, you need the mobility to help dish out beatings. If you play strategically you’ll enjoy Kick-Ass The Game a lot more, and you’ll definitely get your $15 out of it. The single player game runs about 5-6 hours, depending on how good you are, and the rebalanced co-op mode will offer the same again. Add in collectables and Arena and you’ve got a game that’s definitely worth the money.
We already know that online co-op will be coming, most likely as paid DLC. There’s also a rumour that we’ll see a character that some thought was “Mist” the first time around (ugh, sorry, bad pun). As it stands, Kick-Ass The Game is fun. If you loved the comic or the movie I think you’ll like the game. If you’re like co-op, you’ll like the game. If you’re flat out looking to lay a beat down on some bad-guys, you’ll like the game. All said, it’s a pretty good way to spend your $15.