Review by BigReed

"Fun combat, constantly switched up gameplay, epic boss fights, a great soundtrack, Zombies, and most likely an overlooked game"

Introduction
Lollipop Chainsaw is another wacky, stylistic, and somewhat crude game from the minds behind No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned. You'll step into shoes and skirt of Juliet, a cheerleader that comes from a close, zombie and monster hunting family. Juliet loves swinging her chainsaw against zombies as much as she loves her boyfriend Nick who you'll eventually meet at the end of the prologue.
Lollipop Chainsaw, unlike most games these days, does not forget that it is a video game. There is humor, epic boss fights, and the gameplay is constantly broken up into different styles so it never becomes dull. The sexual undertone never becomes too much for the player either. Obviously you're playing as an 18 year old blonde bombshell that is not afraid to wear revealing outfits, but at no point does it become uncomfortable.

Lollipop however will ultimately be another love or hate game, something Grasshopper Manufacture is well known for. Another thing they're known for is over the top concepts and gameplay, something Lollipop Chainsaw certainly delivers on.

Gameplay
Lollipop Chainsaw is an action game with hack and slash combat. Unlike other games that have similar gameplay like God of War or Bayonetta however, Lollipop Chainsaw has a more basic system. Combos are not kept track of, and juggling enemies is not a factor. What plays more of a role is “sparkle hunting” which is when 3 or more zombies are decapitated at the same time. This earns both regular and platinum medals that can be used to buy items, powerups, upgrades, art, mp3s, and of course, sexy costumes.

This style of combat can become dull, especially with games that encourage multiple playthroughs of each of the games levels. Grasshopper was intelligent enough to come up with multiple ideas for minigames that frequent the levels. These minigames are inspired by the themes of the levels, including retro arcade games, tractor driving, protecting the worlds dumbest most "explodiest" birthday cake, chainsaw dashing on rooftops, and many others. Each level also has a high score to beat, compliments of Dad.

There are also plenty of collectibles in the game including lollipop wrappers, powerful and specially named zombies, mp3s, and of course achievements. I felt that Lollipop Chainsaws achievements were fair. It took roughly 40 hours to complete all of them but there were still plenty of unlockables to go after, even after completing the game. All in all, the gameplay never becomes dull and is broken up constantly by different minigames making for a long and fun experience.

Story
Sometimes a story can make or break a game. Some games however can have a crazy, convoluted story that is backed up by presentation, gameplay, graphics, and sound and still provide a must play experience. Lollipop Chainsaw is the latter, and the story ranges from downright silly to completely unbelievable. The game starts of simple enough with a zombie outbreak that is taking over the local high school. Eventually on her way to meet up with Nick, Juliet rides her bike and eventually drives her chainsaw through groups of zombies that are taking over the school and its student body.

Juliet discovers that one of the emo, antisocial students has unleashed another world onto Earth because of the way society has mistreated him. As a player, it is hard to feel any real emotion for any of the characters because the game never attempts to become too serious. And I prefer it this way. Having a serious story with boring realistic characters would have been a drag. Every character including Juliet's family and even the bosses are stylized and over the top. From a hip, Elvis looking, motorcycle riding father, to an elite sniper sister, to another more maniacal and possibly bi polar sister; the characters are unrelatable but also very entertaining.

Juliet steals the show though. Some people might see her as annoying, but the fact that she acts out every “girly girl” stereotype was somewhat intoxicating. Obviously she wasn't based off of real women, but then again this is what makes her fun to be around. So while the story is basically there to just give the player a reason to move forward, the characters and bosses are all very well done. In fact, Lollipop Chainsaw has some of the best boss fights this generation.

Graphics/Sound
Lollipop Chainsaw sports a mix of realistic styled graphics with a somewhat cel-shaded look. Everything is colorful and has black borders. The unreal engine 3 was used for this game and the stiff, sometimes shiny graphics that come with it show. The frame rate stays at a solid rate the entire experience, even when there are over thirty or more enemies on screen.

The sound on the other hand was exceptional. Lollipop Chainsaw has one of the better game soundtracks, even if some of the catchier tunes are licensed. Considering that musicians generally do not work on games, several were present for this title, and it reflects on the attention to sound. So many of the songs are catchy including the theme song “Lollipop” and the famous “Hey Mickey”. For the past week I have been walking around singing these songs and they really add to the presentation and style that the game offers.

Play Time/Replayability
Lollipop Chainsaw is an arcade style game that encourages the player to earn the high score for each and every level. This is not a game that was designed to be played or beaten for the story alone. And the play time showcases this. Either you can beat the story and be disappointed at the games length, or you can actually play the game like it was designed to be played and see how much content is offered. After it was all said and done, I had clocked in roughly 35 hours of game time. This also included every single achievement being unlocked. Rarely do I ever go for 1000/1000, but I felt that this game offered pretty fair and fun achievements.

Like I mentioned above, Lollipop Chainsaw heavily encourages the replaying of every level. I played all 7 levels on easy mode during my first playthrough. After getting some experience I switched the game to Hard and beat every single level to obtain collectibles. And after that I went through each level on ranking mode (normal difficulty) to wrap up the last of the achievements. If you are going for a maxed out game expect 30-40 hours of playtime.

Final Recommendation
Lollipop Chainsaw is likely another niche game that will fly under the radar. Most professional reviewers will compare it directly to games like God of War and write the game off. But as our industry moves along in a more casual direction where games have to appeal to more and more players, some titles remember what they are; Video Games.

Whether you rent, buy, or borrow it, I highly suggest you play Lollipop Chainsaw. The combat is fun, the characters and bosses are absurdly entertaining, and most likely this title even though it's new will available for cheap. If you are a fan of the developers past games, or if you enjoy unique game experiences, pick up a copy at some point in your gaming career.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/19/12, Updated 07/09/12

Game Release: Lollipop Chainsaw (US, 06/12/12)


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