The original Naughty Bear game didn’t go down particularly well. Despite having an interesting premise, the game has one of the lowest scores on TSA’s database. News of a sequel came as something of a surprise – to me at least – however it seems that 505 Games have taken on board a number of criticisms and, on paper at least, Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise appears to be a much more fleshed-out experience.
The first big change is the fact that Panic in Paradise is no longer a boxed retail product, as the game is being released on the PSN and Xbox Live Arcade for £11.99/ 1200 Points.[drop]As the title suggests, you still take on the role of Naughty Bear. After the massacre that took place in the last game you would have thought all the other bears would have learned their lesson and be nice to their neighbourhood nut-case but no, they decide to go on vacation to Paradise Island without sending an invite to Naughty Bear. Outraged, he concludes that revenge is in order and hitches a ride by strapping himself to the under carriage of the vacation bus. This isn’t going to end particularly well.
Each of the 36 levels, which are spread over eleven locations, tasks you with hunting down and killing one of the game’s main bears. Normally this bear will have to be killed in a certain way, but how you get to it is up to you.
As Naughty Bear isn’t particularly welcome on the Island, other bears scattered across the level will either attack or run off and raise the alarm if you’re spotted. This leaves you with a number of ways to meet your objective.
You could flit between the long grass, using it as cover, and lure over any stray bears before dragging them in and killing them quietly so not to raise the alarm. If you’re slightly more sadistic you could locate all the phone points first, sabotaging them so no bears can call for help.
Then you could let the bears spot you, laugh maniacally as they try and repair the phones before grabbing them by the neck and performing a rather more graphic ultra-kill. It helps massively that each level has a myriad of weaponry just lying about, as well as objects such as fire-pits and barbeques which can be used if you drag a bear close enough.
It’s hilariously violent. Seeing a bear get ripped apart at the seams or literally have the stuffing beaten out of them is just so bizarre. It’s like Manhunt but with cuddly toys in place of violent thugs.
If all this violence is just too much you also have the option to drag a bear into the long grass and steal his outfit (not as kinky as it sounds). This enables you to walk about undetected, providing you don’t do anything suspicious such as hack off someone’s head, before chucking them through a Stargate (this is actually a thing you can do).[drop2]Stealing outfits is actually rather important in Panic in Paradise. Every item you successfully take will be unlocked at the end of each level, allowing you to buy it if you have enough coins. In an RPG twist, these outfits provide various stat-boosts to Naughty Bear, levelling up a mixture of health, stamina, strength etc. You can mix-and-match, too, with tons of head-gear, body-wear, boots and weaponry to purchase.
To add a further layer of depth, every item you equip can be mastered after it has been used a certain number of times. Once this happens it becomes powerful, but can no longer earn any experience points, slowing down the rate at which Naughty Bear levels up, the idea being you swap out for something new and get a taste of everything the game has to offer.
To make sure you can afford all of these goodies you really do have to go for the big points in every level. Boxes and random animals such as frogs can be found throughout the game, and smashing them to pieces will earn you coins. When it comes to kills, the more experimental you are the bigger the reward.
Levels also have secondary objectives to meet which all add up. Points are totted up at the end of each level and your score is added to an online leaderboard, which can also be filtered to show your friends’ scores.
So far Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is infinitely better than the original, but it does still have a number of issues. Firstly, it still looks like a PS2 game, although perhaps one can overlook that bearing in mind the price. Thankfully the camera is much improved, and the musical score works well. The framerate, however, still likes to take a tumble now and again.
Melee combat also still feels clunky and a bit hit-and-miss; a target lock probably would have gone some way to alleviating this issue. When attacking you also get locked into a fixed animation, which can be annoying if the enemy runs off, but you can’t give chase until you’ve finished your attack animation.
The main problem, though, is that despite the game being much improved, repetition does set in after a couple of hours. Granted, 505 Games does its best to try and keep things fresh, but isn’t entirely successful. This is a game that’s best played in short bursts.
- Gruesome fun.
- Multiple ways to tackle a level.
- Loads of customisation.
- Doesn’t look great.
- Clunky melee combat.
- Repetition does set in.
Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is a much better effort than its predecessor. By adding in the costumes system, 505 Games have managed to give the game a layer of depth previously missing. However, whilst repetition doesn’t entirely spoil the party, it certainly takes the shine off after a while.
Overall though it’s an enjoyable experience, and worth the £11.99.