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Eric Campbell

Plain Sight review: Beatnik Games slices, dices and then...explodes.

Rating: 5 votes, 5.00 average.



It’s not just a clever gimmick. Robot ninja have been the stuff of epicness since games like Ninja Warriors was released on Super Nintendo in ages past. In this modern day, we have Plain Sight – a fast-paced player vs. player romp complete with kamikaze robotic assassins in a free-falling 360 environment. I came into this game knowing nothing about it, but when I learned that robotic ninja was the order of the day I realized the brilliance of the tongue-in-cheek title of the game.

There is no sneaking around and launching a single precise strike against a hapless unsuspecting opponent. Rather, it’s a hornets’ nest of robots wielding katana and hurtling through the air in near zero gravity, while merrily cutting each other in half to achieve the ultimate goal of blowing themselves up in order cash in on all the kills they made (and hopefully take more of their fellow metal shinobi out with them). It’s a concept so nuts you just know it was conceived by designers who were all high on 5-Hour Energy drinks while watching Gir, from an old episode of Invader Zim, punch himself in the head during a screaming fit. And that’s just another reason why this game is so damn good: by your fellow crazy ass nerds, FOR your fellow crazy ass nerds.

Visually, the game tickles your eyes, utilizing beautiful cell shading and smooth, snappy animation. The versus zones vary from random surfaces and geometric shapes floating in free space, to pirate ships side-by-side. (Did a game about robotic ninja just include PIRATE ships as well?) The gravity physics take the game to a whole new vomit-inducing level of vertigo. Instead of dying from a fall into the void, your little bot simply gravitates to the nearest surface, or in my case, orbits endlessly in mid-flight while trying to desperately dash/ kill everything that moves. So let this be a disclaimer: If you’re one of those poor bastards that gets motion sickness easily, this game will cause your family to plan an intervention because they will think you are becoming bulimic. Otherwise you will enjoy the hell out of the ride, watching your little guy zip around, unfettered and free…until another player blasts past your screen and you explode.

This will happen fairly often and I noticed it’s very easy to spot newcomers to the game. The new guy is the one jumping all over the place, admiring the game’s atmosphere and the wondrous departure from the standard laws of physics. The not-so-new guy is the one who easily spotted a new player and collected his 19th kill by button mashing his way through the noob’s face. If it wasn’t for the charm of the classy Big Band soundtrack and the insane premise, I might have found myself getting a little frustrated when I first started playing.

They spell it out to you pretty simply in the tutorial: Collect energy by killing other players, energy makes you grow bigger, blow yourself up to collect points, one point for each energy you had stored up. But what the tutorial never mentioned is the upgrades you are allowed through playing. Well this was an easy adjustment, but apparently there are shields (among other things) that you can acquire through this mysterious upgrade system, which I purchased immediately because I suck at this game and thought that maybe I could hope to break even. Instead I just broke in half. Part of me rationalized that purchasing shields in the hopes that you would be, well, shielded, only to discover that this doesn’t shield you any more than trying to deflect an incoming sword with a sneeze, must have been part of the game’s humor. Or maybe I just sucked that much.

The bright side to this was that it eventually forced me to learn the techniques of the masters: click the buttons a whole bunch. At first I found this to be pretty disappointing, especially since it seemed to be so hard to even lock onto another player, but that quickly evaporated when my new tactic garnered success after success after success. There really isn’t anything more satisfying than annihilating 4 players in the blink of an eye, then self-destructing and taking out 4 more in your sudden blast radius.

There are five multiplayer modes just to add some spice. First you have your standard Free-For-All, then your Capture the Flag, your Team Death Match and then my personal favorite: Botzilla. Think of Botzilla like a game of tag, except that the person who is ‘it’ is a 60-foot-tall robot with a flaming ninja sword wearing a dinosaur head piece. Kill botzilla! ‘Nuff said. Each time botzilla dies, a new player dons the head piece and the craziness starts again.

So there you have it. Any faults one could find in this game are easily dismissed on the basis this game boasts the one virtue that overpowers any imperfections: it’s fun as hell. I would say its addiction level is right up there with forgetting to take showers.

Beware.


Eric Campbell
Contributing Writer


This game is available on GamersGate

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Updated 06-09-10 at 08:02 by SteveSawyer

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