Kick-Ass is a dumb game. Stupid. Unintelligent. DUMB. It’s also quite fun. Based on the silver screen adaptation of the comic book original, Kick-Ass the video game is a 3D brawler a la Streets of Rage or God of War that very loosely ties together a lot of action by following some of the main events of the film’s story – a boy who decides to be a real life superhero, instead of just reading about them in graphic novels takes on a criminal underworld with humourous, if sometimes shocking results.
Unlike the work from which the game is ultimately derived, Kick-Ass is exceptionally straight forward, making obvious (and often inappropriate) gameplay, sound, visual and control choices every single step of the way. Of course you’d turn a film filled with superheroes into a game where you take on level after level of generic bad guys, because that’s what developers working on tie-ins do. Of course you’d intersperse your action with actual film footage, because after all, you have a film license and what better way to utilise it than club players over the head with it at every opportunity you get. Of course you smash crates for health, have red barrels explode when punched, ceaselessly use the same audio clips and have combat that is essentially glorified crowd control with little more skill needed than ‘hammer on square to win’ to be effective against the brain dead AI. Of course you do. It’s this kind of design that more often than not makes me slam down the controller, flip a switch, flip a finger and shout ‘this is why that Roger Ebert idiot writes the trash he does’ at the TV screen.
Except in this instance, it’s actually kind of acceptable. Kick-Ass does a few things that are likeable, it has a conceptually interesting blood-as-determination metaphor splashed across its front end and menu systems, a collection of Kick-Ass comic book covers can be found in game which, when completed, give access to a digital version of the entire first issue of the series and the XP gathering and levelling system gives a hint of flexibility in how you proceed with your character through the main game.
However the game’s main strength is that, whichever way you look at it, this title is built for a quick fix of no strings play, this is media at its most rapidly and easily consumable, designed to be chewed up and spat out when finished. Two player, for example, is the main attraction here as playing alone can be a depressing experience when you’re playing the title at your own pace and can see the rather obvious cracks in the quite rough to begin with finish. But when sampled with a friend the mind rotting, but deeply satisfying process of defeating a large group of enemies is rather enjoyable. It’s a shame that three players couldn’t get involved in the action, as the game’s story (if you can call it that) would easily facilitate this kind of feature, but of all the complaints to levy against Kick-Ass, this isn’t a deal breaker. Hit detection is solid, as is most of the animation, and a risk / reward mechanic of collecting health from defeated enemies adds a little tension to the proceedings if your character is looking peaky.
The prominence of multiplayer and the ease of access the game provides reinforces to me that sales of the title will be driven on impulse purchase, mates coming back from the talkies wanting to continue their evening of ass kickery, dropping money on something they can do while drinking and eating pizza and for that audience in that situation, the game is fine.
Over the last few years we’ve seen that superhero games can be great, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Infamous are solid proof of this. Kick-Ass isn’t anywhere near their league but it’s not without merit and for those looking for a fun but dumb game to kill a few hours this will do just fine.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platform: Playstation 3 Release Date: 05/05/2010
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Kick-Ass for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of three days on a Playstation 3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.