Ever since I laid eyes on the first screens of skin-flaunting Juliet Starling sawing zombies up with a chainsaw, I’ve been eagerly anticipating Lollipop Chainsaw, the latest gloriously nutty creation from the legendary Suda51. Initially I had planned to wait for a price drop before picking the game up simply because I have so many un-played games already that buying another at full price and stashing it in a cupboard for ‘the near future’ seemed silly. However, I happened to be in Gamestation a day after the launch of Lollipop Chainsaw and I thought to myself “Screw it, I’m buying this and playing it straight away”.
It was £30 which is a reasonable sum of cash but on the other hand, I see shelves and shelves of stuff like FIFA, Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty – decent games in their own right of course – and think that different games like Lollipop Chainsaw deserve to sell more copies so some support was in order.
More importantly - upon taking Juliet for her maiden voyage in my PS3 – I’m instantly aware that this has to be one of the best £30 sums I’ve ever spent.
|Eyes on the lethal chainsaw gents...|
Within minutes I’m grinning gleefully as Juliet hacks her way through zombie hordes on my TV and all manner of craziness takes place. There are memorably potty-mouthed lines (Juliet saying “Wow…zombies suck dick at driving!” still makes me smile), comic blood splattering and upbeat music to slay the undead to. There are also many amusing mini cut-scenes where stuff explodes, zombie-related chaos ensues and Juliet shows off her bright, slightly air-headed personality in the face of such a supernatural catastrophe.
The gameplay itself is fun too which is essential in a game like this. It’s important to stress that Lollipop Chainsaw’s linear progression and general combat don’t do much in the way of revolution but the solid mechanics and memorable styling do a fine job of papering over an otherwise simple blueprint. Juliet can use high and low chainsaw attacks which can be mixed up with jumping for some cool-looking moves. Additionally, she can put her cheerleading occupation to good use and attack zombies with pom-poms and cheerleader routines in order to stun them and make instant decapitations easier. There are also some special moves, my favourite so far being Juliet leapfrogging a zombie before sawing them in half from the groin upwards (with the aid of a fairly lenient button-mashing QTE).
|It's all just tomato ketchup...honestly.|
New combos and upgrades can be bought from a shop as well as special items such as music tracks, artwork and new (increasingly pervy) costumes to kit Juliet out with. High scores, innocents to rescue and collectables mean that there’s plenty of replay value in each level of Lollipop Chainsaw so I’m certainly going to be plugging away at this game for a long while.
Of course, I can’t recount my first hands-on of Lollipop Chainsaw without mentioning the starlet of the show herself. It’s easy – and probably fair – to say that Juliet Starling is simply another cynically-designed female character for luring in a male audience but she’s also a very likeable personality to have on the screen. There’s an element of the stereotypical ‘blonde bimbo’ to Lollipop Chainsaw’s protagonist but (as mentioned earlier) she also has some humorous dialogue and an overly happy-go-lucky persona for a girl trapped in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Besides, would you rather play as a walking tank of a generic space marine or a leggy blonde cheerleader wearing a tiny skirt and super-tight crop top? No contest. I am slightly ashamed however to admit that I tried the old manipulate-the-game-camera-to-look-up-her-skirt trick but Juliet stabs her chainsaw in the ground and holds her skirt down. I guess Suda51 was expecting that one. Shame on me indeed.
|As if butter wouldn't melt...|
To sum up my first impressions, I have to wholeheartedly recommend Lollipop Chainsaw to fans of zombies, action games or sexy cheerleader heroines. Hell, I want everybody to play Suda51’s latest slice of madness as its so much fun and in a landscape obsessed with sequels, photorealism and online kill streaks, it’s nice to see that fun, original ideas still find the light of day.