Bear-ly worth it.
Naughty Bear got some things right – I want to make that clear at the outset. The idea is brilliant: a cuddly Metal Gear Solid, a fluffy Grand Theft Auto. Who wouldn’t go for that? The intro and the cut-scenes are presented like an imported British children’s show. The slo-mo kill shots are comical fluff-spewing romps, and the frenetic ambient-sounds-of-chaos soundtrack – think police sirens, boiling tea kettles, buzzing doorbells, and ringing phones over tinkling nursery songs – builds tension. These all help pull you into the game.
[image1]But once you’re in the game, it all becomes disappointing very quickly. I really wanted to like Naughty Bear. Maybe it had to, ahem, bear a great burden to live up to my expectations. Sadly, in the end, I was not left with any warm fuzzies.
All that you really need to know about Naughty Bear is that he tried to be nice, but the other bears would never accept him so he became naughty. The object is to do as much damage to the environment while in pursuit of the ultimate goal: kill everything and never let anyone escape. With a bit of sneaking and hiding, disabling telephones and destroying cars will help keep the kill count manageable.
The major failures of this game are in its execution and overly repetitive play. Naughty Bear gets stuck in so many walls, so intimate with planks of wood, that I was wondering if 505 Games meant for the title to be “Knotty Bear”. And he gets really stuck, like "Pooh‘s paw in the honey pot" stuck. Every time it happens, you’ll have to restart the level, and while it’s reloading you’ll think, “Why am I playing this game?”
The screen is overloaded with information – there are points, a description of points, a perplexing multiplier scale, a life meter, a map, a display of important off-screen action, and a checklist of challenges that clutters the view. I can accept that the graphics are supposed to be rudimentary in a cartoony sort of way, but many of the camera angles have you staring through transparent tree trunks, walls, and even other bears. It’s disorienting and far from pleasant.
[image2]Perfection Island, where all the mayhem goes down, is pitifully small. Each of the seven chapters of the game contains five episodes, and every episode in a chapter take place in the same environment with the same weapons and the same enemies. Things get claustrophobic and repetitive very early on; if you can stand to finish the game at all, it is doubtful you will ever revisit it.
The only form of variety mainly comes from one place, and that’s in the challenges for each episode. Among other objectives, you must not get hit, must not be seen, or complete the level within a time limit. Learning the controls is easy; it mostly involves picking up weapons, brandishing them, and running. Reading the map that tells you where your targets are can be aided by the Invert option in the menu. You’ll have to use stealth and strategy to complete some challenges; others can be accomplished by brute force alone. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make Naughty Bear more fun – it just adds to the repetition.
You can’t go head-to-head against a friend in the same room because multiplayer mode is all online. Online play is a game changer – you have more freedom in weapon set, objective, and other options. The cartoon violence gets pretty comical, and once you master a few levels in single-player mode, possibly the only thing worth doing will be to take the violence online.
I really wanted to like Naughty Bear, but there are too many faults that either disrupt the gameplay or are just too unbearable to ignore. The experience, unfortunately, bears no fruit.