Of course, I'm sure that some people would argue that this isn't a stealth action game at all. After all, it's not like you have to sneak up on anybody to take them out. The fun of Splinter Cell and Manhunt was knowing that your enemy was considerably stronger than you. This meant that you had to be careful not to get noticed; otherwise it's lights out for you. But that's not the case in Naughty Bear. In this game you can simply rush your enemy, punch him a few times and then finish the job. While a few of the missions require you to stay hidden, for the most part there's no penalty for not sneaking around.
Sadly, even if you accept this as nothing more than a 3D action game/brawler, it still has a lot of weird control problems. In most modern action games, the target/aim button is mapped to the left trigger. But not in Naughty Bear. Oh no, that would make too much sense. Instead if you want to aim, you will want to push the right bumper. What does the left trigger do, you ask? It turns out that this is your, ahem, "BOO!, Scare" button. This button unleashes your loudest, most obnoxious sound available. You are literally jumping up and down and waving your arms, it's possibly the least subtle thing you could do in the game. So imagine sneaking up on a guy and accidentally pushing this look at me button and screwing up your whole plan. It's annoying ... and something that happened far too often.
The game also has huge camera problems and the combat is a complete mess. I know I'll probably unleash the wrath of the Monster Hunter Tri fanbase, but like Capcom's recent RPG, Naughty Bear is in serious need of a target button. It's far too easy to get turned around and then suffer serious damage from a gun-toting bear. Thankfully there's more than enough health packs strewn about the level, but the poor combat only helps to highlight the significant problems with Naughty Bear.
And then there are the technical issues, which seems to be a widespread problem across all of the Naughty Bear community (based on what I've read on the various forums). The problems started for me the moment I put the game in the system, it froze while trying to download a required title update. From there I found the game crashing at least once every couple of hours. There are other bugs, including one where the game will go into a never ending loop of loading information. Every time I had to restart my system I had to convince myself to play the game again. I finally got to the point where I couldn't bring myself to push the start button, it always ends with disappointment.
These technical problems are not isolated to the offline mode only; you'll find yourself suffering through a whole new batch of problems when you decide to take the game online. What is explained in the instruction manual is intriguing. You get to have jelly fights, a cupcake competition and an all out assault using automatic weapons. How could this not be a great substitute to getting more kills in Modern Warfare 2? Who knows, maybe it is. I'm not sure how good the multiplayer modes are, because I was never able to complete a full match. Because of server issues, I was constantly being booted or resetting my system after it froze. After making several valiant attempts, I resigned myself to the understanding that Naughty Bear was not intended to be played online.
Naughty Bear is exactly the kind of game I should like. It has a wicked sense of humor, the whole thing is unabashedly politically incorrect (even though it retains the T-rating) and it's hard to resist those cute and cuddly teddy bears. Yet despite its great concept, Naughty Bear is a fatally flawed action game that suffers from far too many technical problems to overlook. Worse yet, it's a game that, with a little reworking, could have been a great alternative to Rockstar Games's ultra-violent titles. But alas, it this is yet another miss opportunity.
There are things I absolutely love about this game. No matter how bad the controls are, I'll never forget the finishing moves your character administers. I love using all of the weapons to slice and dice the "good" bears, and there's nothing better than using an arcade machine to rip the life out of somebody. It's worth your time to watch all of the gruesome/adorable fatalities. Sadly, I don't think that's enough of a reason to buy this game, but if somebody were to post it on YouTube, I would suggest checking it out.
What I'm left with is a game full of interesting (and morbid) ideas that never quite works the way it's supposed to. I'm not saying you can't have a good time with Naughty Bear, but the fun is short-lived the moment you realize how crummy the gameplay is. If it wasn't for the game's cute graphics and interesting concept, this game would have scored a much lower grade.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Naughty Bear works as a crazy idea, but not as a full-priced video game. The action is shallow and the controls are all wrong. Worse yet, the game is marred by technical difficulties that all but ruin the entire experience. If it wasn't for the adorable characters and compelling idea, this game would have scored much lower!
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