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Naughty Bear Review

June 25th, 2010 by

If your friends were having a party and you weren’t invited, how would you react? Would you a.) brush it off as absent mindedness? b.) be a little offended and ask them why? Or c.) decide to go on a murderous rampage destroying everything in your path? For the titular Naughty Bear, this is never a decision he needs ask himself. It is c.) every time. Every. Single. Time.

From the team at Artificial Mind and Movement, the folks behind WET, MySims Racing and a wealth of big name title ports, such as Iron Man, Dante’s Inferno and Mercenaries 2, comes this, their latest original IP. Going into the game, I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive, as you can see from their track record, the developer’s pedigree isn’t particularly a good one. While WET, for example, was visually quite interesting, it was a boring game to play, the central bullet time mechanic sucked any potential fun from the title, severely hampering the pace of the game, and the transfer of Mercs 2 to PS2 was rough to say the least…

Playing as a curious blend of Manhunt’s stealth, State Of Emergency’s visceral violence and Canis Canem Edit’s dark humour, the team really do seem to have struck out for that Rockstar feel in terms of game play and tone. Aesthetically however the title could not be more diametrically opposed, a cuter-than-cute, brightly coloured world of teddy bears, helium balloons and scrumptious looking cake. Through this duality of elements comes the unique premise of Naughty Bear, doing for stealth action what Battlefield Heroes does for WWII military history.

The premise is simple, go into an area, lay low, kill or scare silly every bear in that said area with a variety of weaponry and in-game objects (for high scoring contextual ultra-kills / ultra-scares), meet certain requirements, move on to the next, repeat. It’s a very safe structure that’s livened up by genuinely funny introductory cut scenes and an unsettlingly happy narrator.

The real fun of the game comes from a pseudo-social engineering aspect; scaring, maiming and killing bears, seeing how they respond and how their friends respond. It is a wonderfully evil feeling of the purest schadenfreude when the cruel acts you have inflicted upon a fluffy, singled-off victim – such as burning their face on a barbecue, trapping their legs in bear traps and beating them senseless with golf clubs – forces them to limp away from you weakly, back to their base camp. It is a delight to see the reactions of their comrades from afar, seeing the widespread panic and fear that sweeps through their encampment, watching as they attempt to barricade themselves in a building, call for help or escape the area entirely. This is where the game excels, with a large, Shining-esque ‘Here’s Johnny’ style grin plastered across the face of the player at their most powerful, completely in control of those around them, a ruthless force of nature in a cartoon fantasy world.

A shame then that you never have as much power over yourself as you do your enemies, as the game is really quite imprecise in places. At times you’ll be out of cover when you think you should be in it, the combat is rudimentary at best, animation cues are wonky beyond belief, and the camera is an irritating nuisance.

Perhaps the biggest issue though is pacing. The game can be incredibly dull at times and far too hectic at others, and with no perceived patrol routes as such for your enemies, waiting for them to walk past your waiting landmine is a case of hit and, more likely miss, all the while being overcome by a feeling of boredom from a game that is aiming to be fun. For all of the criticisms you could point to in the Metal Gear Solid franchise, Kojima at least understands that the frustrating part of stealth is the waiting, using inaction as the punishment for alerting guards and setting off an alarm. Except of course that the ‘alarm’ in Naughty Bear, i.e. the inhabitants panic, cannot be turned off. You therefore come to rely on very gamey elements to beat the levels, such as jumping out of cover, killing an enemy in a crowd of others and then dashing back to the woods that instantly hide you. In addition, there’s no instant kill move when sneaking up behind an enemy, so dispatching your foes is an extremely slow and arduous task.

Naughty Bear is a real mixed bag. While it lets itself down in its realisation as a game, it is most certainly entertaining in places, and its style can make up for its lack of substance at times. At points it manages to turn from slightly broken stealth action game to smile inducing time waster and if the team can go away and develop the concept further, the next iteration could well be a corker. As it stands though, it’s very much a try before you buy.

MLG Rating: 6/10

Platform: Xbox 360 (Playstation 3)  Release Date: 25/06/2010

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Naughty Bear for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of seven days on a Xbox 360 Pro. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

12 Responses to “Naughty Bear Review”
  1. I’m thinking the charm of this game alone warrants a play of this title.

  2. avatar Hugo Rune says:

    I so wanted this to be a must have purchase and you’ve gone and downgraded me to a rental but without reviews like this I could be blowing a whole load of my gaming budget unnecessarily.

  3. avatar Stanley Acosta says:

    Oh.. man this is dissapointing.. I have been waiting for this game for a very long time.. but I always had my doubts of pre-ordering it.. because I wasn’t too familiar with the developer of the game, well.. thank god I didn’t pre-order it.. I guess this game’s price will drop very soon if what this review says is true, I’ll just wait for that to happen and then buy it.. this game isn’t worth 50 bucks it seems..

  4. avatar Yid1984 says:

    I am lucky I am getting this through on rental today. Been looking forward to it for a while but can’t afford new games at the moment. Good review as always Xero.

  5. avatar Disgracelands says:

    Well I found the game quite enjoyable and despite the odd freeze up, I didnt have many problems with it at all.
    The main issues I guess would be the poor graphics (though I feel that was intentional) and the re-use of locations. You rarely go anywhere further than 3 set places on the island.
    Oh and the minor issue of bears trying to escape in a car that you have previously sabotaged was a tad irritating too.
    I dont understand why the reviewer doesnt like the way the bears dont follow a set route. For most people when playing a stealth game, a bunch of NPC’s walking backwards and forwards on a pre-determined set of waypoints, is a tad boring and linear. At least the random movement of the bears in NB allows for the player to be a little bit more creative.
    Plus the reviewer forgot to mention that when a bear is injured, you can walk towards them and watch as they try to get away from you, thus luring them into a well placed mine or bear trap.

    I had fun with NB and considering the fuss that was made over the Manhunt series, I think this is the closest we can get to calculated killing without the “Ban Squad” running riot.

  6. avatar Ryucosu says:

    belive me this “reviewer” has gotin it all wrong its actualyl a VERY good game. why is it bad if the bears dont follow a pre determed path THATS boreing, and place them outside a door or window when the bears come out side they get traped or blown up symple as that. on another thing you cant just “run” into cover and auto be invisable you have to run away from the sight of the bears put a leaf over yourself and wate. i love the reactions and so wat if there isnt a quick kill…the kills are always fun to watch the animation was good and the overall game deserves higher than a 6. i think the reviewer has a gruge agenst soft teddy bears THAT YOU CAN SMASH HAHAHAHAHA…btw not a rental 3 areas can be a little boreing but with new items and bears that react differently in each area mixes it up. i give it a 8/10! 6/10 what a nuter!

  7. @Ryucosu
    I’ve seen some places giving this title a 1 out of 5.
    Good that your enjoying it, I’m certainly going to be giving it a show myself

  8. avatar drew dee says:

    well basically, the games repetitiveness was supposed be the fact that you could go back and replay levels and try and get more points to beat those online.

    tbh, the game does have some issues, but i think for certain people this game will hit the spot, and for others just piss them off.

    the kind of person who’s porbably gunna like this game is the kind of person who can’t stand only getting 99% on a game, and will replay until they hit that 100%.
    if you like to go back and make sure you’ve done EVERYTHING then, if the title draws you in, you have your self a winner.

    but if you like fast paced action, and dead easy kill and typical style shoot em up (i.e if you own modernwarefare) then you might consider looking else where.

    this game, for me, has to the kinda game that you’ll WANT to enjoy, not just the type of game where you wonder whats gunna happen in the next level.

    get the mix right with this game and you’ll have yourself a ball.

  9. avatar Vampire Azrial says:

    Personally I liked it, but it is a game that is played in short bursts, there is a kinda instant kill feature, after your scared / hurt them enough, just approach the teddy from behind and you’ll usually gut,shoot, maim them in some way or another for an ultra kill, I did like the way you can scare them so much that they actually commit suicide. Myself I think the review is possible a little harsh, but not by much, I probably given it a 7 outta 10, as it’s still a fun game if a little samey.

  10. avatar kentuckyfried says:

    I’m glad that it’s a mixed bag…the ign.com review was a bit scathing, as if the game’s a complete piece of garbage.

  11. avatar Ash says:

    Repetitiveness in Naughty Bear goes WAY beyond simply having to repeat the same level five times. Yes, you do have to do each level five times, but each time there are different rules to follow so this isn’t actually the problem.

    The BIG problem, which I’m amazed nobody has mentioned, is that the story levels are all more or less the same. The island on which the action takes place has, at most, five areas. One of those is Naughty’s hut, which is tiny and rarely has more than one enemy in it. The other four aren’t exactly huge either. But they are used over and over and OVER again, on every single story mode level, with only cosmetic changes. The Night of the Living Dead parody is set at night. When the oil baron visits there are a few oil pumps lying around. It’s still the same level! Once you finish st6ory mission two you have pretty much seen the ENTIRE game.

    The only other things that change is that you get different weapons – about one new one on each successive level, so not exactly great – and new enemies. However, aside from a few incidental animations, some being slightly tougher and the weapons they are armed with, ALL enemies act and are dealt with in much the same manner regardless of outward appearance.

    So yes, the gameplay is fun and inventive. However it never develops, and you’ll probably get as much fun out of constantly replaying a single-level demo than from the full game.

    -Ash

  12. avatar charlie bowden says:

    could of been so good because of the new fresh idea’s but don’t even think it worth a rent , how dissapointing :/

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