Level Up! We Review Lollipop Chainsaw (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Thursday, June 28, 2012
Source: Mania.com

Well there’s little on the release schedule for next week being a holiday week but we’ve got two big reviews for you this week on two very different games.  Lets get right to it!
Tecmo Koei announces Dead or Alive 5 pre-order bonuses 
Tecmo Koei has detailed the preorder incentive and Collector’s Edition version for DEAD OR ALIVE 5, which will ship on September 25, 2012. The popular DOA series returns with a new look and feel while honoring the core franchise’s fighting legacy, and premiums for the game reflect this with both sensual in-game swimsuits for female characters and a deluxe set of both physical and in-game items in a sleek metal case for the Collector’s Edition. 
Players who preorder Dead or Alive 5 at GameStop or Amazon will get an exclusive set of in-game bunny-style swimsuits for three female characters. At GameStop purchasers will get a ‘DOA Angels’ set of white swimsuits for Kasumi, Leifang, and Hitomi, while Amazon players will get a set of three ‘DOA Devils’ black swimsuits for Christie, Tina, and Ayane . 
Available exclusively at GameStop, the game’s Collector’s Edition pulls out all the stops to provide a rich package of physical and in-game items for fans, starting with the first-class embossed steel case that keeps the precious goods inside safe. Along with the game, players get premium swimsuit costumes for DOA5’s full cast of playable female characters. An exclusive hardcover art book details the game’s lush imagery and the game’s stirring soundtrack CD lets fans experience the music of DOA even when they’re away from the game. Finally, a full-color poster of the DOA5 cast tops off the deluxe package of items. DEAD OR ALIVE 5 will be available for an MSRP of $59.99 for the regular edition and $79.99 for the Collector’s Edition. 
Activision and Disney Announce 'Wreck-It Ralph' for Wii, 3DS and DS 
Get ready for classic arcade video game action with a whole new modern look and feel as Activision and Disney Interactive today announced a collaboration  to produce and distribute a Wreck-It Ralph  video game. As a story extension to the highly anticipated upcoming blockbuster film of the same name from Walt Disney Animation Studios, the Wreck-It Ralph video game is set to inspire a whole new generation of young gamers as a classic, arcade-style side scroller featuring Ralph – the misunderstood villain of his own arcade game who sets out to prove he can be a hero too.  Debuting this fall tied to the movie release, Wreck-It Ralph will bring all the fun from the big screen right into the living room for the Wii  system from Nintendo, and the Nintendo 3DS  and Nintendo DS  hand-held systems. 
From the mind of Director Rich Moore (“The Simpsons,” “Futurama”), the film chronicles the journey of Ralph, the bad guy in an arcade game who sets out to prove he can be the hero after all.  However, Ralph mistakenly reverts to his clumsy nature and “wrecks” everything once again, unleashing a deadly enemy threat onto his video game neighbors.  The movie hits theaters on November 2, 2012 and features an all-star voice cast, including John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch. 
The game picks up where the movie leaves off as Ralph partners with Fix-It Felix and sets out to save their friends and home from a huge Cy-Bug invasion.  Pounding through all-new levels in the “Wreck-It Ralph” universe, like Sugar Rush, Hero’s Duty, and Fix-It Felix, Jr., players will have to use Ralph’s destructive strength to beat by the Cy-Bugs, while switching back to Felix to repair the damage.  With story campaign and two-player co-op on the Wii platform, players can switch between Ralph and Felix to solve action-packed puzzles and collect “Hero Medals”.  
Camilla Luddington Named New Voice of Lara Croft 
Square Enix, Inc., announced that English-born actress Camilla Luddington has been chosen to be the voice and performance actress of famous video game adventurer, Lara Croft, in the new Tomb Raider Game.  After an international talent search using scouts in Europe and the US, Luddington stood out as delivering both a depth of emotion and the youthful tone needed for Lara Croft in the upcoming reimagining of the Tomb Raider franchise, due for release on March 5, 2013. 
"This has been one of the most important jobs for us to get right," said Darrell Gallagher, head of studio at Crystal Dynamics "This Tomb Raider game is very different to any other and we are demanding far more from the voice and performance acting than ever before as we take the franchise in a new direction." 
This July, Luddington will also participate in the Nerd HQ and Comic-Con panels in San Diego, where she will join the development team as they talk about Tomb Raider and the story behind its creation.  Recently Luddington has starred in the hit Showtime series Californication and can also be seen in the current season of HBO's True Blood. 
2K Sports announces Cover Athletes for NBA 2K13 
2K Sports announced that the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose have been crowned the cover athletes for NBA 2K13, the next installment of the top-selling and top-rated NBA video game simulation franchise. 
 “It’s a dream come true to be one of the cover athletes for NBA 2K13,” commented Rose, the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player, who led the Bulls to a league-best 50-16 record this season. “I’ve worked closely with 2K Sports since NBA 2K10, and I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan as the latest Chicago Bull to be featured on the cover.” 
In their young but impressive careers, Rose, Durant and Griffin have each taken the NBA by storm. All three are past winners of the NBA Rookie of the Year award, and have also amassed eight All-Star berths, three scoring titles, and one Most Valuable Player award between them. 
“There are many young superstars in today’s NBA, but we’ve selected three incredible athletes for the cover of NBA 2K13 that represent the NBA well,” concluded Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports. “It’s clear to us that Blake, Derrick and Kevin are the most deserving guys to inherit the NBA 2K cover from Jordan, Magic and Bird.” 
Developed by Visual Concepts, a 2K Sports studio, NBA 2K13 is not yet rated by the ESRB and will be available on October 2, 2012 in North America. 
Cradle of Rome 2 Comes to North American Retailers 
Rising Star Games announced that its fan-favorite puzzle game, Cradle of Rome 2, is now available at North American retailers for the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS systems. The sequel to one of the best-selling match-3 games by Jewel Master, Cradle of Rome 2 brings improved features, graphics and high-quality sound to the incredibly successful series. 
Cradle of Rome 2 challenges players to race against time by swapping tiles in an intense match-3 game. As players progress, they must earn enough gold and materials to return Rome to its former glory and ascend to the position of Caesar. Providing simple, yet addictive, gameplay on both the 3DS and DS platforms, Cradle of Rome 2 lets players use their earnings to build houses and magnificent palaces as they develop their small settlements into flourishing empires. 
Cradle of Rome 2 features include: 
Ubisoft Sets New Release Date for Far Cry 3 
Ubisoft announced that Far Cry 3 will be released on November 29 in EMEA and on December 4 in the U.S. Far Cry 3 will be available for the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3,  and Windows PC. 
In Far Cry 3, players step into the shoes of Jason Brody, a man alone at the edge of the world, stranded on a mysterious tropical island. In this savage paradise where lawlessness and violence are the only sure thing, players dictate how the story unfolds, from the battles they choose to fight to the allies or enemies they make along the way. As Jason Brody, players will slash, sneak, detonate and shoot their way across the island in a world that has lost all sense of right and wrong. 
“We’re taking more time to create the best possible gameplay experience,” said Dan Hay, producer at Ubisoft. “Far Cry 3 is a huge offering and we want every element of this insane, action-packed adventure to be of the highest possible quality for the players.” 
Test Drive: Ferarri Legends (Atari) Rated E Xbox 360, PS3
Push your vehicle's power to the absolute limit as you take on immaculate circuits around the world — but be prepared to put your driving skills to the test against challenging conditions, advanced AI and extensive online competition. Rev the engine, let out the clutch and shift into the most distinguished brand of racing in Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends.
Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends shifts the racing genre into high gear, going beyond the tracks to fully immerse you in the rich history of the landmark brand. With 52 finely tuned, lovingly detailed Ferrari models, from legendary classics to the cutting-edge designs of today, as well as an extensive range of world-famous circuits, Ferrari Racing Legends delivers the ultimate driving experience. The Ferrari story unfolds before you as you clinch victories and unlock tracks and cars. Hammer down and find out just how fast your wheels can go when you race against AI opponents or a group of your friends in white-knuckle competitions. The wheel's in your hands, the switchgear's at your fingertips and the pedal's at your feet — what feats can you conquer in the driver's seat of a Ferrari?
Lollipop Chainsaw (Warner Bros.) Rate M  PS3, Xbox 360
A hot cheerleader in a skimpy costume killing zombies with a chainsaw? Count me in, damn it! Lollipop Chainsaw is loud, rude, lewd…laced with profanity and brimming with overt sexual innuendo…and I have not had this much fun playing a game in a long time. And that’s the key…fun. I love the Call of Duty series but playing COD is more like work as you try to complete the games hundreds of achievements to improve your ranking. Lollipop Chainsaw made me laugh out loud unlike any game I’ve played in a long time. It’s what the last Duke Nukem game should have been. 
Juliet Starling is a popular cheerleader at San Romero High School just trying to enjoy her 18th birthday when zombies from another dimension called “Rotten World” invade, threatening to tear her little town apart. Good thing Juliet comes from a family of zombie hunters which includes tough-as-nails older sister Cordelia; younger sister Rosalind, a pure “Valley Girl”; mom, who supplies advise over the phone; and dad who is like a cross between Johnny Cash and Elvis. Also joining Juliet is her boyfriend, Nick…well, at least his head. After finding Nick near death, Juliet keeps Nick alive by removing his head and wearing it around her waist. The ongoing repartee between these two throughout the game is pure magic. Juliet must hack and slash her way through 6 stages, each representing an area of her town such as the high school, sports stadium, local arcade, and a farm. Juliet is armed with her trusty zombie-rending chainsaw as well as her various cheerleader skills that allow her to leap, roll, summersault, and vault her way out of trouble. The attack scheme is basic and easy…a low attack, a high attack, and pom/pom bashes/kicks. The pom-pom/kick attacks deal light damage but do have a strategic use…hitting a zombie with the pom-poms can make them groggy and literally see stars. Once groggy you can finish them off with the chainsaw to initiate the game’s Sparkle Hunting system. Sparkle hunting raises your sparkle meter and once full a push of the R2 button can make you an invulnerable killing machine for a short time. If you can kill more than 3 zombies in a single attack who also earn point and coin bonuses which pop up in glittery glee on your screen. 
Zombies drop gold coins when killed. Gold coins are used to purchase items such as health upgrades and attack combos while platinum coins earned from sparkle hunting can be used to purchase additional outfits for Juliet or songs for her soundtrack. The amount of sparkle hunting you achieve as well as coins collected all goes into your report card that you get when completing a stage. In a lot of games like this, you can get through just fine with basic attacks but in Lollipop Chainsaw, the combos you buy are necessary. First, they are the best way of killing a mass of zombies as Juliet often finds herself complete surrounded by the undead. She can spin head over heels like a ban saw slicing and dicing or spin like a tornado, rending and disemboweling…The combo attacks help you kill more zombies in a single attack which earns more points and coins. Juliet can even make use of conveniently placed stripper poles to twirl around in an exotic dance of death. There’s a wide variety of attacks that Juliet can make use of, a favorite is to leapfrog a dazed zombie and put the chainsaw between his legs and split him in two! As you advance, Juliet can turn her chainsaw into a gun to deal damage from a distance and can even use poor Nick’s head as a powerful weapon when utilizing randomly placed “Nick tickets”. Juliet can also collect lollipops which will restore a portion of her health meter when used. 
Lollipop Chainsaw changes up the action with some weird sports games like zombie basketball where you have to chop off zombie heads and send them flying into the hoop for two or even three points. The arcade stage puts Juliet into the middle of several classic arcade games like Pacman, Pong, and Donkey Kong-like level. The end of each stage features the usual boss battle against various music-themed rock-zombie bosses like a Punk Rock zombie, a 50’s zombie greaser rocker, a 1960s psychedelic hippie zombie, and the final battle against a giant, Fat Elvis zombie. 
Lollipop Chainsaw has perhaps the most eclectic soundtrack ever heard in a game…everything from 1950’s and 60s pop songs and surfer music, to punk, traditional metal, and even death metal tunes. Utilizing the sparkle meter plays Toni Basil’s legendary MTV classic “Mickey” while the shops play the 1958 pop tune “Lolliopop”. You can spend your platinum coins to add to your song list. The voice cast is also tremendous highlighted by Michael Rosenbaum as Nick and Tara Strong as Juliet. 
Yes there is a lot of sex allusions and profanity in the game and it often becomes over-the-top, but intentionally in my opinion. Characters will peek up Juliet’s short skirt or fall face first into her ample cleavage but even my wife thought it was hysterical. And speaking of ample cleavage, I don’t think I’ve ever played a game where cleavage bounced this…realistically! Lollipop Chainsaw definitely is not perfect. Each stage takes about an hour to complete so you’re basically talking about 6 hours to complete the game which is certainly short by any standards. There’s the opportunity to replay and compete scoring wise on worldwide leaderboards. You’ll also need to replay it to gain more access to costumes if you desire. The save system is unforgiving. It will save your progress from the last checkpoint should you be killed but if you quite in the middle of a stage, you will have to start the entire stage over from the beginning. I found that out the hard way! The camera is erratic and at times there’s only certain directions in which Juliet can look and move. The auto targeting system can also be a pain when firing the gun. You might want to shoot at the boss character but the gun will lock onto his zombie cannon fodder instead. 
Is Lollipop Chainsaw sexist? Meh, maybe, but Juliet is also a pure badass while frail boyfriend Nick has to be protected. It’s not the greatest game from a technical standpoint but it is one hell of a lot of fun. Grade: B+ 





Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier (Ubisoft) Rated M  Xbox 360, PS3


I freely admit when it comes to shooters my preference is to wade into battle with guns blazing.  I’m not into the sneaky steal approach but I know it has its place.  Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is the 5th entry in the Ghost Recon series and has been in development since 2009.  It’s the first Ghost Recon entry to carry a Mature rating.  The “future” part of the game comes in the form things like  invisibility cloaks, spy drones, rocket-armed robots, etc…You do have to credit Ubisoft/Ubisoft Paris for not trying to (necessarily) compete with Call of Duty by bringing us a game that does depend much more on teamwork and tactical play than just blasting anything that moves.  


That’s not to say that Future Soldier shies from the action. Rather it skillfully spaces out its stealth and "guns blazing" sequences where players need to be on their toes.  Included is the revolutionary tagging system, called "Sync Shot," where you're able to select foes for your squad to kill on your mark, and it all adds up to some spicy, but very different from COD gameplay.  But while the gameplay is solid, repetitive level design, boring enemy encounters, and predictable situations grinds the game to a halt far too often.  The environments are simply fabulous.  No complaints there.  The architecture of the streets and buildings as you travel through areas like London and Russia look great.  There’s a great depth of detail that is on display that some developers might have cut corners on.   Nearly everything in the environment can be destroyed by gun/cannon fire which means you have to be extremely careful when grabbing cover and keep moving.  The sound matches the graphics quality in every way, with every gorgeous visual special effect comes an equally great audio effect to deliver a believable, immersive experience. 


The 10 – 12 hour campaign begins with your Ghost Team dubbed Team Hunter investigating the source of the bomb which killed Ghost Team Predator in Nicaragua.  Ghost Leader Captain Cedric Ferguson, Staff Sergeant John Kozak, Master Sergeant Robert "Pepper" Bonifacio, and Sergeant First Class Jimmy "30K" Ellison are under the supervision of Major Scott Mitchell. Mitchell informs Hunter Team of their new mission to rescue an arms dealer named Paez in Bolivia who has information about where the bomb came from.  However the story itself as mentioned bogs down with the repetitiveness of the missions.  You basically go to point A, take care of your objective, and then get extracted from point B.  The main plot branches off nicely into a major campaign with a lot of personalities and enemies but it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re doing the same thing over and over but just in new locales.  


Some of the stealth sequences can be downright frustrating as you attempt to move through areas without being seen leading to numerous restarts.  There are also some touchy camera glitches where you can get stuck on scenery.  These things are not horribly bad but for a game in development for this long I think we all expected a bit better.  One thing that does work well is that the campaign is equally enjoyable in either single player mode or in co-op with up to 4 players.  In single player your AI teammates are surprisingly efficient and reliable. Both methods are equally fun to complete the campaign. 


Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s multiplayer team play truly is “team” play unlike what you find on other shooters.  This includes a new wave based mode, called Guerilla where players must fend off waves of enemies at various locations on a map.   There are also great challenges in competitive multiplayer, in which two teams of up to six players can compete in a variety of modes.  As in the normal campaign, you can get killed very quickly if caught out in the open, so make sure you stick to cover.   The game types are: Conflict, Decoy, Saboteur, and Siege.  


Tactical shooters certainly have their place and are often a welcome change to the typical in-your-face shooters and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier definitely tops the list.  Outside of a blasé story and repetitive levels, this would have received a top grade.  Grade B



Tim Janson is a columnist and reviewer for Mania Entertainment.  He writes Level Up, the weekly look at videogames and the horror dedicated column, Tuesday Terrors.  Tim has written for Fangoria Magazine, Newsarama, City Slab Magazine, Twitch Film, and Cinefantastique.  He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA).  Be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter