Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Score: 45%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: WHA Entertainment
Developer: Frozen Codebase
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Fighting/ Themed/ Action

Graphics & Sound:
Videogame graphics have come a long way, from the blocky, low-res tanks and planes of Atari 2600's Combat up to the near-photorealistic graphics of the most recent games. If you're looking for the highest quality graphics available on today's gaming consoles... move along, there's nothing to see...

The graphics in Kick-Ass are not photorealistic, and the models are not over-the-top. This, however, doesn't bother me for a couple of reasons. First of all, this is a PSN game for the PS3, which often have graphics that fall a bit short of major release titles. Secondly, the graphics are meant to be the way they are - they're done in a comic-book fashion, with some cel-shading and flat-looking objects. If anything, I think they should have gone further with the cel-shading by post-processing all of the models to give a comic-book appearance, but they pick and choose what they cel-shade.

The camera angle is seriously annoying at times. It's possible to rotate the camera, but not to change the downward angle or to zoom out. This keeps our heroes at reasonably large sizes, but limits the area that you can see around them.

As for the sound side of things, be prepared to hear some very repetitive lines. Chloe Metz reprises her foul-mouthed role as Hit Girl and boy, does she say some doozies. Get the kiddies out of the room because this game revels in its Mature rating. Sadly, from what I can tell, no one else is back to do voiceover's. Clearly Nick Cage is not in the house, but his stand-in does an ok job as the wooden-voiced, Adam West-channeling antihero, Big Daddy. Red Mist isn't voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse and is instead replaced by someone who sounds like they have a severe sinus infection. It can be painful.

As for the music, at times, the game will bust into renditions of songs from the movie and while they were cool during the film, they get a little redundant here. At least the hits, slices and gunshots sound pretty darn good.

As far as use of the license, there are clips from the film used as intros for the different levels. Some of these are pretty cool clips, such as Hit Girl's Entrance into the penthouse; possibly the coolest fight scene in the movie. But these are used very sparingly.

Additionally, if you find a series of collectible items in the game, you can unlock a digital version of the first issue of the Kick-Ass comic book by Mark Millar, for viewing on your PS3. Nice. Unfortunately, sometimes they place these comics in areas you've already been to and will only find if you backtrack. Not nice.

Kick-Ass is a brawler with some RPG elements, sort of like Double Dragon meets Gauntlet. As you defeat enemies, you will gain experience and level up, getting awarded points that can be spent to increase your Defense, Attack and Special Abilities in a balance that you choose. Defense helps you resist damage, Attack helps you dish it out and allotting points to your Special Abilities makes your unique attacks, such as Hit Girl's upside-down helicopter-like move, do more damage.

Beyond this, there's not really any additional RPG-esque elements to get in your way, if you're not an RPG fan. Psibabe doesn't tend to like RPGs, but the leveling aspect of Kick-Ass never seemed to bother her.

That being said, you'll begin the game by selecting a character from either Kick-Ass, Hit Girl or Big Daddy, and then you'll begin your journey. The game loosely follows the plot of the film and your goal will be to take down/kill the 8 major bad guys from the film, culminating in the final battle with Frank D'Amico. As you progress, you'll level up, as discussed earlier as you plow through countless goons, gunners and thugs. Your story will vary slightly depending on whom you choose to you play. Psibabe and I played through the entire game (pretty much) as Hit Girl and Big Daddy, respectively. Kick-Ass would pop onto the scene from time to time, most to get his ass kicked, but he never joined in to help. There was even a point where Psibabe was playing as Hit Girl alone and was "joined" by Kick-Ass and Big Daddy, only to be left in a burning warehouse to fight off countless bad guys. Not cool.

Another gripe I had is that while Psibabe and I played through up until the final two levels in co-op, she was home one day and decided to progress the game. When I went back to play with her, the game wouldn't let me play at the level she was in because I hadn't progressed with her. If you want to swap characters, you will begin at the lowest denominator of a character's skill level, so keep that in mind.

Finally, when you beat the main game, you open Arena and Extreme. These are exactly what they sound like. Extreme is an even harder version of the original game and Arena is a "survival" mode where you pretty much won't... for more than a few minutes anyway.

When I think of PSN, I typically think of casual games and, for some reason, more reasonable difficulty. That's probably far from the truth, as I type this and difficult moments in casual games start to flood my mind, but even so, Kick-Ass's difficulty was much more hardcore than it had any right to be. Especially since there wasn't a choice in difficulty selections. It is what it is... until you beat the game, that is.

Mind you, it's not constantly too difficult, but there are certain levels - or parts of levels - that could inspire Olympic-distance shot-put throws of the gamepad. At these times, it's best to have a friend to assist you or a group of friends with which to take turns. In general, however, the solution I found to overcoming these frustrating spots was by playing smarter, not shooting faster or hitting more enemies. Pay attention to everything as you play; it may become apparent what is causing more enemies to rush into the area and, once you realize that, you can more actively control the number of enemies to fight. Taking it slow and trying to figure out how the enemies are going to behave under different circumstances proved very helpful in my run-through. Call it a puzzle game, at that point.

Game Mechanics:
The graphics look flat in places. These places, I applaud. It's supposed to give the appearance of a comic book. But I would have preferred to see this taken further, with post-processing to the 3D environment to give more of the comic book appearance. And while the camera could be rotated, the locked downward angle is bothersome and annoying and can really put you in a nasty place. When you enter a room, you can slowly advance, bringing enemies into sight, but just barely. You can then shoot them and kill them without them advancing. Is this a cheap way to play? Sure it is, but with the sometimes fiendish difficulty, you might want to resort to this.

As for control, sometimes your characters wouldn't exactly respond like you'd like, but overall, they faired pretty decently. (Triangle) is used to shoot, (Square) is a light melee attack, (Circle) is a heavy melee attack and (X) is used to jump. The HUD looks a lot like a mini version of Facebook called FaceSpace that pops up on your iPhone clone covered with blood. Here, you can change your options, but most importantly, access your Profile to allot those all-important leveling up points between Defense, Attack and Special Abilities. You can use your Special Abilities in conjunction with (Triangle), (Square) and (Circle) to boost that attack by holding down (R2) and pressing the appropriate button, but in the heat of the moment, I sometimes forgot to do this. Lastly, if you are confused about where to go, and it will happen, just tap (L1) and a row of arrows will direct you to your next area, if the FaceSpace HUD isn't blocking your view when it takes up the lower half of your screen.

Overall, I both enjoyed my time with Kick-Ass and felt abused by it. While we did have some fun times, I doubt I'll ever go back to it. The Arena mode just wasn't much fun and there's no real impetus to reply the game since you know how it all pans out. Plus, the final boss battle is a cut scene. Huh? Talk about take the wind out of your sails when you are pumped for a Battle Royale! Definitely check out the demo before you buy it.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Related Links:

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.