When we got first glimpse of this cartoony multiplayer game, we were all jolly excited. The mixture of genre types into a thirty-two player online battle seemed wonderful as we licked our lips with anticipation. Many months down the line (albeit a few more than we had initially expected) we can all get out grubby mitts on Titan Studio’s PSN exclusive.
With a wonderful blend of RTS resource-gathering and management, RPG based character classes and the traditional FPS game modes, Fat Princess offers a variety of mechanics for players to latch onto. Two evenly-sided teams of up to sixteen players battle it out in one of four game modes – as well as Soccer mode which will either leave your sides sore with laughter or your head hurting from frustration. A variety of eight maps, with varying styles and map-based elements, will ensure there’s enough diversity to keep it fresh. There are multiple routes across the map, cliff faces to fall off to your doom, giant bombs and poultry-inducing potions just to keep this already crazy scenario nice and busy; and busy it certainly is.
You start begin your life as a hatless clown who is essentially aimless, but once you put one of five hats on your over proportioned head you snap into gear. For those of you who you like fighting up close and personal need simply to pick up the Warrior hat. If you prefer a more ranged approach why not try sporting a Ranger hat, or perhaps the Fireball flinging Mage. For the more passive amongst you, the Priest can heal you comrades whilst the worker will busily harvest the game’s two resources – wood and metal – as well as repair and upgrade your castle.
The hats can either be collected from the hat-dispensing machine located in each team’s castle, or via the remains of any poor casualty from the battlefield. Each class can be upgraded to expand their abilities: Warriors gain a dash attack, Workers lob bombs, Rangers fire muskets, Mages can cast ice spells and Priests can leach health from their enemies.
The primary game mode and ergo the name of the game is Rescue the Princess, with the aim to grab the greedy royal from the enemy prison and return her to her rightful throne, all whilst you prevent the opposing team doing the same to you. However, this is not just simply a Capture the Flag mode, it is a glorified calorie-injected Capture the Flag mode with cake scattered about the maps (apparently growing out of the ground) to be picked up and hurled at her highness and thus enlarging her originally petite physique. Played properly, this can lead to epic battles with just a few players as a Princess is carted across the map by her minions.
However, if players do not utilize the game mechanics in place – for example, Workers, whilst not the most effective in battle, can build bridges, gates, ladders, springboards and catapults to help turn the tide of battle in your favour – then it turns into a mass free-for-all with no sense of cohesion and no end in sight. This therefore means that the lack of a timer of any sort allows for a seemingly endless match, like a tug of war between two clones. This can also be said about another mode, Smash & Grab, as you have to capture the enemies Princess three times and bring her to your prison. The other two finite length match types are Team Deathmatch and Invasion, while the former may be self-explanatory the latter requires you to control at least half of the outputs to decrease the enemy morale to zero.
A single player experience is present and whilst accompanied by a well narrated storyline, it is just a series of tutorials explaining how to play each game mode whilst exploring all of the maps. You’ll probably play it once and only once. Not that it matters, as Fat Princess is not a single player game, and as with any class based multiplayer, you have to rely on other players, which is unfortunately this game’s single downfall. Whether this is simply due to the influx of initial players having not filtered out those allergic to actually working within a team, or a major flaw with the game’s design will become more evident in time. Matches with fellow staff and our community have presented laughter filled battles and great teamwork during the TSA Fat Camps, even with the majority of players lacking a headset.
The team with the best balance of classes and best team work will almost always prevail. Understanding to only attempt rescue in numbers with a mixture of classes is surely easy enough to accomplish, right? Having Priests focused on healing teammates rather than running around trying to bob a solider over the head, Rangers keeping, well, their range, and workers harvesting and upgrading is why you have classes.
On the subject of resource management, it works beautifully. The combination of wood and metal makes harvesting a vital role in your teams success, providing a welcome focus on defensive strategies. It is therefore very disappointing that each class can only be upgraded once, as an efficient worker can have collected enough resources within about ten minutes and thus put themselves out of a job.
The crisp cartoony art style is simply beautiful and joins a series of fabulous 1080p PSN titles. A game entitled ‘Fat Princess’ would not be complete without a touch of humour, though, and a catchy, yet slightly annoying, tune is the game’s theme music and a very fitting one indeed, and goes well with the Worms-like voices and sayings by the little blighters that add that extra touch of tongue-in-cheek charm. The bots are a strange mixture of the pure genius, managing to win a match before you’ve even decided upon which class to be, or downright stupid by choosing to stand around for a couple of minutes to admire the scenery.
Regardless, Fat Princess offers some of the most addictive and rewarding gameplay in recent times and can be a fantastic joy to play with friends online. Over time, it wouldn’t be at all surprising for Fat Princess to get better and better as players settle down into their roles and really engage with the teamwork – much like has happened in Killzone 2’s multiplayer. However, if this is not the case then Fat Princess may be that game you just play with your friends. Now, if only there was a party system…