Friday, August 13, 2010

Fat Princess

Fat Princess
Developer: Titan Studios
Publisher: SCEA
Action / Capture the Flag - Playstation 3
1 - 32 players
Fat Princess

Fat Princess has gotten a lot of press in the PSN shows like Pulse and Qore. I knew it was an online multiplayer game, but BECAUSE it was an online multiplayer game, didn't think I'd get much mileage out of it. I barely touch my consoles as is. But who could resist a 50% off sale?

The gist of the game is simple:

Capture the enemy princess
Protect/retrieve your princess

All in all, very much like your standard capture the flag game. But there's a twist. Fat Princess so gets its name from one fact: You can stuff the princesses with cake, making them fatter and heavier, and consequently much more difficult to move. You control one of 16 characters on your team, and you are free to change classes similar to a game like Battlefield. The nice thing is, you don't need to die in order to change classes. You just need to pick up a hat of the class you want to change into. Your base generates all of the class types, so you can immediately pick your role there. On the battlefield, you can pick up the hats of fallen allies and enemies. This allows class-changes to be seamless and instantaneous, so you can focus on the action. There's 5-6 standard classes and an additional 3 available via DLC, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Some units are better at front-line combat, while others are better as support.

Fat Princess isn't just action. Unlike a FPS capture the flag, Fat Princess has some RTS elements to it, where you can farm resources to upgrade buildings, ultimately upgrading the units. You can also use resources to construct shortcuts (ladders, bridges, etc) and build barriers to block out the enemy. This aspect gives Fat Princess a little more depth than the standard CTF.

Contrary to what I first believed, there are decent single player options where you play against AI-controlled opponents. There is a brief story mode with different objectives that allow you to understand the different modes and get familiarized with the classes and maps. There's also an arena mode where you pick a class and try to survive through a series of combative challenges. So there's a bit to play around with if you're not as interested in jumping online.

But of course, if you want to play online, it's very easy to jump in. You can host a game and set things up if you want to play a game with specific settings. Or you can just Join a Game and it'll drop you into an existing game going on, where you just replace one of the AI-controlled team members. It all happens automatically, so you don't need to go to any lobbies, or pick a game from a list. And because the game substitutes you in for an AI-team member, if you need to go, you can quit without really disrupting your teammates. It'll just sub an AI teammember back in when you leave. Once an online game is finished, all the human players can vote for the next map. The way the online component was designed makes it incredibly easy to play for just a few minutes or a few hours.

My only complaint about the experience is that the documentation is pretty poor. Yes, the in-game manual gives you some direction into class abilities, upgrading buildings, the available game modes, etc. But many of the finer details are not explained, so even though I've played the game for hours, there are gameplay elements I don't quite understand - particularly with using resources towards upgrades.

Nevertheless, if it's a solid, fast-paced, user-friendly multiplayer game you're after, Fat Princess delivers. Whether you have just a few minutes to spare or want to devote an entire afternoon, you'll be thoroughly entertained.