Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Loving It Like a Fat Princess Loves Cake... The Fat Princess (PSN) Review

It seems like these days the downloadable services on the three consoles need some highly praised game that is both cutesy and violent at the same time. The Xbox Live Arcade already filled that void with Benemoth's Alien Hominid HD and Castle Crashers while WiiWare has not found its game yet or the fact it is not their thing. The Playstation Network on the other hand finally has its own exclusive game of that kind with Fat Princess. This game has been a long time coming for nearly a year and being highly praised among those curious about such a game called that. The special thing about Fat Princess is that it takes a simple concept like capture the flag and twist it up to a completely different take with flags being princesses that love cake too much. Even though with such a crazy idea of getting princesses fat, this game at its core is a team class-based strategy game with classes that are suited for certain roles and playstyles. When things really click such as the perfect team strategy being executed while communicating through headsets, Fat Princess is truly an awesome game, but be prepared to deal with its flaws as well.

Fat Princess's core game is Rescue the Princess, which is basically capture the flag except with obviously princesses that want to be fat. The class-based system is simple to understand and pick up that consists of five classes. You got the standard warrior class that is focused on close range combat, a ranger class that is centered on long-range combat, a mage class that casts fire or ice spells on enemies, a priest class that heals teammates or sucks enemies' health away, and a worker class that gathers resources to build structures. The worker class especially is key for developing upgrades for the other classes as well as build quick transport tools such as ladders and catapults. With a game like rescue the princess, teamwork is required to be successful, otherwise being disorganized with people trying to do their own thing just leads to chaos, which seems to be the case playing online with random matches most of the time. What I mean by teamwork in Fat Princess is having planned strategies ready to execute, having a diverse group of teammates to charge to the opposing castle (not having an army of warriors rush and get killed), and also communicating via headset, which seems to be rare since not everyone has headsets on PSN. At its core, Fat Princess reminds me of Team Fortress 2, another awesome team class-based multiplayer game that clicks when the perfect plan goes to action, but disfunctional chaos with no teamwork.

Other than the standard rescue the princess mode, Fat Princess has other multiplayer modes as well spicing up the gameplay a bit. Those consist of Snatch & Grab, which is basically rescue the princess in reverse as you have to bring back the opposing team's princess back to her cage three times to win, Invasion, which is like playing a game of Battlefield capturing outposts to drop the opposing team's core to zero to win, Team Deathmatch, which is self-explanatory as seen as many games before, and a random game of soccer with the medieval twist. These other modes are nice diversions from your normal game, but certainly Rescue the Princess is where it is at in terms of fun and satisfaction. If you are tired of the online madness, there is also single player options to explore as well as customizing your character conveniently called getting fabulous. The Legend of the Fat Princess is a six chapter campaign that is pretty much a tutorial and good warmup for the online action with some sense of story told in book form by the announcer of the game. The thing with this mode is playing with AI bots, which can be a mixed bag as they are not the smartest bots to have around as a team or fight making you do all the work and that can lead to some frustration. Other than the campaign, there is the skirmish mode of playing a normal game against bots, and Gladiate, a survival mode of trying to outlast wave after wave of enemies for victory. While Fat Princess delivers on fun times with a decent selection of modes, dealing with the online issues is indeed a pain prevent it from greatness.

Since Fat Princess is mostly an online game with a maximum of 32 players in one room, getting into an actual game is a pain and tiring as many attempts will end up on failure as you back to the press start screen. Plus, it does indeed take a long to join a game in progress as the game has to gather the necessary information and connect to the host. This can also get frustrating when trying to join with online friends as well, which the game allows for that option. The developers, Titan Studios, are indeed aware of the online stability issues as they hope to fix them in an upcoming patch. Other than matchmaking issues, Fat Princess can be at times a little buggy especially when lag rolls around. This is the case when you don't see the cake icon around the menus for a bit after failing to join a game, various other obvious latency issues while playing, and even the game crashing too. In addition, players have been noticing some balancing issues as well in which the developers have been listening to feedback regarding that hoping to be fixed soon. Even though Fat Princess is loaded with frustrating issues, do not let them go over your head from playing such an awesome game.

With its cutesy and charming style, Fat Princess looks great and the violence just makes it look even more sweeter. The graphics fit the game's medieval theme as the characters look cutesy enough with all the customized looks when getting fabulous as well as the princesses especially when they look a bit ugly when being fat after having all that cake. Seeing blood everywhere after dealing with hordes of the opposition feels very satisfying to see. If you are a little offended of all the blood and gore, there is an option to turn it off, but you are losing pretty much the point of the whole game as a whole other than rescuing the princess is to also unleash some violent beatings at the same time. There are also a wide variety of maps to choose from from bases being pirate ships, your standard medieval settings, atop high cliffs, or even in lava-like scenarios as the map changes overtime with paths being blocked off at times due to the lava. At times, slowdown might occur due to online lag, but otherwise the game runs at a smooth framerate. The game's medieval theme and tone also applies to the sound as well from the music to the announcer himself, which is not as annoying as I thought he will be as he will say the important things when they happen. The characters' voices do indeed sound cutesy and charming especially when they fly on the catapult screaming out loud. The honorable mention to the game's music is the song being played during its credits, which is completely random, but surprisingly makes sense for a game like Fat Princess, which you can see below the review (note: this is a possible spoiler if you do not want to have it ruined).

Fat Princess is another great exclusive game for the Playstation Network with its cutesy violence, charm, and satisfying gameplay. It indeed delivers on twisting up the capture the flag concept to have fat princesses as flags along with having a simple class system to pick up and play. Of course, with such a game like this, teamwork and communication is where the game truly shines and when everything clicks from forming up the perfect plan to win. I just wish more people had headsets to take advantage of a multiplayer game like this, but that is probably its own separate issue. If you can deal with the game's current online issues with matchmaking and latency, you will still have a great time with Fat Princess especially at its fifteen dollar price point. After all, I do love this game like a fat princess loves cake.

Score = 8.5/10

  • Loads of cutesy violence and charm
  • Simple and fun class-based gameplay
  • A clever twist on capture the flag with the fat princesses
  • When teamwork clicks, it feels very satisfying
  • Filled with online issues especially matchmaking and latency (Update - A recent patch fixed the matchmaking issues and so far it has improved from what I played).
  • AI bots are not that smart to have around when playing alone
  • With no teamwork and headset communication, the game feels like disorganized chaos

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