Review: Fat Princess

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If Unreal Tournament, Warcraft and South Park were somehow able to hook up and make a baby, their offspring would probably look a lot like Sony and Titan Studios’ new PSN game Fat Princess.

Part chaotic, gore-filled fragfest, part team-based Capture the Flag variant, part resource-gathering strategy game, Fat Princess is the new “comic medieval battle royale” game that PS3 gamers the world over have been anxiously waiting for since it was first shown at last year’s E3. Now that the game has been completed and launched, one question remains: was Fat Princess worth the long wait and the months and months of hype?

I think you already know the answer!

Fat Princess is a team-based arcade action game pitting two squads of cartoony, pint-sized characters against each other in 32-player online bloodbaths. The gameplay exudes the spirit of fast, frenetic twitch shooters, yet plays out from an isometric bird’s eye perspective sort of like a zoomed-in RTS and has the clean, colorful aesthetics of a hi-res Flash game. It’s also bloody hilarious, with characters taunting each other in squeaky voices, menu listings labeled with funny titles (“Twiddly Knobs” is the option menu, “Bragging Rights” leads to stats and leaderboards, and when you want to customize your avatar you “Get Fabulous.”), and gore so absurdly cartoonish it just makes you chuckle (a violence filter lets you turn off the gore if you so desire).

A short-but-sweet single-player story mode is included, along with a survival gladiator arena and the ability to play offline with AI bots, and honestly, this solo content is much better than I thought it would be. But don’t expect to play these for anything more than practice before heading online against real competition. This is a multiplayer game first and foremost, folks. If you have any expectations for some in-depth single-player experience here you are looking in the wrong place.

In the online game, there are four different match types (well, five if you count the awesome soccer mini-game no one seems to play or even talk about), including standard Team Deathmatch, Invasion in which you must capture and hold outposts scattered around the map, and two Capture the Flag variants involving the titular fat princess: Rescue the Princess and Snatch ‘N Grab.

Snatch ‘N Grab has the most direct relation to traditional Capture the Flag, with your team’s goal being to capture the other team’s princess and return her to your team’s dungeon a certain number of times to win the game. Rescue the Princess, on the flip side, has you working to rescue your princess from the other team’s dungeon, return her to your throne room and protect her from being recaptured for a short time. The twist here – and it’s a good one — is that you need to regularly feed your princess slices of cake to keep her nice and plump, thus making her more difficult for the opposition to capture – the heavier the princess, the slower the enemy is able to carry her away.

In these four match types you are free to play as five main class types, including the tank-like Warrior, bow-and-arrow equipped Ranger, health-restoring Priest, spellcasting Mage, and the Worker, an unassuming class but one that is vital to the team with its abilities to harvest lumber and stone for upgrading classes and building siege weapons like springboards and catapults. And when you initially spawn you begin life as a Villager – they don’t have much life but can slap and stun enemies and run faster than any other class – and from there you choose your role by visiting the different hat machines located in your base and putting on the hat associated with the desired class.

Forum debates have already begun over certain classes being too overpowered (many players think the Mage’s area of effect freeze spell is too cheap) and others underpowered (many players feel the Warrior’s slow movement speed is too much of a disadvantage against ranged classes), but personally, I think the classes are perfectly balanced. Perhaps certain classes are weaker than others if you run amok without much strategy. But if you cooperate with your teammates and use smart team tactics like the game is meant to be played, each class’ weaknesses are counterbalanced by the strengths of another class, so it all seems to even out in the end.

The maps are a bit of a different story though. Eight maps are included, and for the most part they are well designed. But there are a couple that seem like they were slapped together without much balancing, almost as if the developers threw them in just so they could tout the quantity of maps. One map in particular – I can’t recall its name at the moment – is essentially broken. On the side of the castle is a rock elevator leading to a small escape path down the side of the mountain, and in one match I got into the enemy took our princess down this path and it was virtually impossible for us to return her to the base. If we tried to bring her back up the elevator, there was no way for us to jump over the ledge while carrying her fat ass, so we’d fall right back down to the bottom. So then we tried carrying her down the path and around to the front entrance of the castle, but near the end the path is broken into a series of small separated platforms you have to traverse. But again, this was almost impossible when carrying the princess. We eventually made it across, but not without numerous plummets to our death, a lot of wasted time away from attacking the other team, and plenty of frustration.

Currently, Fat Princess also suffers from inconsistent online performance. The matchmaking system is particularly problematic at the moment. Every time I’ve tried to play I’ve had to sit through at least three or four failed match connections before one would finally take. Once matches get going, the game generally runs smooth, but I have experienced some terrible lag in a few matches, and one time the game froze up my PS3 entirely (and of course this happened right at the end of a long match in which I was going to finish in the top three, argh!!!).

Fat Princess, like almost every online multiplayer game released these days, has some minor growing pains it needs to work through before its potential is maximized. But the good news is that the core game oozes so much charm and is so damn fun to play that you won’t mind putting up with the overly long matchmaking searches and other niggling performance issues Titan Studios is working to weed out. And hey, any game that lets you hack up its creators during the credits while Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” thumps in the background is a winner in my book!

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Pros:
+ Fast, chaotic gameplay that’s easy to pick up and play and surprisingly deep on team strategy
+ Puts a fun twist on Capture the Flag and the online shooter genre as a whole
+ Good mix of well-balanced classes
+ Sharp, colorful graphics and loads of comical gore
+ Charming sense of humor
+ Solid selection of preparative single-player modes
+ Robust stat-tracking

Cons:
– Slow matchmaking and other nagging online performance issues
– A couple glitchy, unbalanced maps
– Lack of local offline multiplayer may disappoint some

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 via PSN
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Titan Studios
Release Date: 7/30/09
Genre: Team Arcade Action
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-32

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!