Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review - Lovely Planet (PC)

Sugar Coated FPS

As a huge, huge fan of old school, 90's style first person shooters I usually take the time to play anything even remotely resembling classic titles such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, so it was mere seconds between me seeing Lovely Planet on Steam and making a purchase. Sure, the graphics looked cutesy and twee, but I figured it could be a wonderfully humorous combination of Doom and Super Mario Bros. Unfortunately I was left painfully disappointed by the incredibly linear stages and the simplistic 'infinite runner' style gameplay.

Of course, the visuals are the first thing that you will notice in Lovely Planet. The colourful, flat-shaded polygons bring to mind quirky Japanese titles such as Katamari Damacy and are quite appealing, though this depends on your tastes of course. I am just glad to see a FPS that isn't primarily made up of murky greys and browns. The problem comes when you realise that once you have played a few levels, you have basically seen everything Lovely Planet is going to dish up. The bland environments and enemies that are little more than shapes with faces, coupled with your pathetic looking 'stick' weapon soon lose their appeal, and the ridiculously happy J-pop soundtrack soon begins to grate, to the point where you simply have to turn it off.

Lovely Planet's main failing, however, is the gameplay itself. Admittedly, I didn't read any of the blurb on Steam, preferring to make an on-the-spot purchase, but I came to Lovely Planet expecting a cartoon FPS in the same style as all my old favourites - run around the stages blasting enemies while trying to locate the exit with some keys and doors thrown in for good measure. What I got was an incredibly linear game that has one set path you must follow and is more akin to a 2D platformer with a first person viewpoint. It is also a speed-run style game, with incredibly short levels that can be beaten in less time that it takes to type 'First Person Shooter'. Levels are merely assault courses that you must dash through, jumping on platforms and bounce pads while blasting the enemies and projectiles before touching the exit pole. With one touch from anything hostile instantly restarting the level, it is more a memory test than a true FPS. While easy to begin with, it isn't long before the difficulty ramps up to Super Meat Boy heights, and it becomes quite irritating with it (especially if you have that happy music assaulting your ears). Not only are enemies (all coloured red) a concern, but often other shootable items will pop up in the distance and if they hit the ground before you shoot them, guess what? Yep. restart time. There are also friendly shapes (coloured grey) that mustn't be shot, meaning you cannot simply run around shooting your cube projectiles in every direction.

Don't get me wrong, there is some fun to be had in Lovely Planet, but it's very short lived, and it isn't long before the visuals (and especially the music) become tiresome and the gameplay stale. If you enjoy mobile phone style games that lack any real substance, with levels that can be finished in seconds and feature the seemingly-mandatory 'three star rating' system, then you might gain far more entertainment value from this game than I did. For those of you who, like me, come to this colourful, cartoon world looking for a dose of classic FPS action, you will be sorely disappointed. May I instead recommend the excellent Doom 2 mod Action Doom 2 : Urban Brawl, as it will satisfy both your FPS itch and features great cartoon visuals and a large dose of (albeit gratuitously violent) humour.

Title : Lovely Planet
Developer : Quicktequila
Publisher : tinyBuild
Year : 2014
System : PC
Also On : Mac
Price : £3.49
Genre : FPS, Platformer

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