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Fat Princess
Score: 83%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Titan Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 - 32 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
Fat Princess has been around for little under a year now. Yeah, I know, a little late to the party... but when it comes to games built primarily for online play, well, you want a little time before seeing if the game is really worth your time. And, man, is Fat Princess ever worth your time.

Fat Princess's cartoon appearance is deceiving. It looks cute with bright fields, spells and bigheaded characters. Then bigheads start to roll, splattering the bright fields with blood. Fat Princess is deceptively brutal. It's great juxtaposition of styles help push the game's sense of humor. It's ultra-violent, but to the point where it's more Looney Toons than Saw. But, if it's too much, there's always the option to switch off blood.

Audio pushes the fractured fairytale feeling even further. Music is whimsical and cheery, while character voices suggest the battlefield's air consists primarily of helium. There's even a very Patrick Stewart-like voice calling out important in-game information, such when your castle's doors are breached. Some of the sayings attempt to be a little too "geek," but I learned to ignore it.


Gameplay:
Fat Princess is a 32-player multiplayer game split into multiple modes, though you'll likely spend most of your time in Rescue the Princess. The idea behind the mode is similar to Capture the Flag, only instead of trying to trek across the battlefield with a piece of fabric on a stick, you're hauling game's title character back to your castle. If you can manage to keep her there long enough, your team wins.

However, matches aren't nearly as simple as they seem. The advantage to jumping into the game a little later is the knowledgeable player base. Though not huge (I never had a problem getting into a game), games were filled with players who loved the game and knew how to play. Rather than everyone running for a combat class, players know how to use special abilities to help their team out. For instance, the Worker class may not see like an exciting job, though his resource-capturing ability forms the backbone of any sound strategy.

So why the "Fat" in the title? In order to make sure your princess isn't kidnapped, you'll need to find pieces of cake scattered across the battlefield and feed them to her. The more cake she eats, the bigger she gets. Bigger princess equals more soldiers required to carry her. It's not the most PC of game mechanics, but helps illustrate why teamwork is so important.

There's also a single-player game, "Legend of the Fat Princess," which basically serves as a quick seven-game tutorial of sorts. It collects the various play modes and shows you how each are played. There's also "Gladiate," where you choose a job and fight waves of enemies. Both a nice additions and will quickly get you up to speed. However, Fat Princess is first and foremost a multiplayer experience.


Difficulty:
The disadvantage to coming in so late is the knowledgeable player base. Fat Princess is an easy game to pick up and learn, but players generally know what's up and can make games tough for newcomers. I was fortunate enough to not run into any unruly or rude players, but I had to sprint from the start rather than jog.

"Legend of the Fat Princess" does an okay job of getting you prepped for online play, but without human interaction, it's hard to get a good feel for what a typical game is like. You'll learn the controls and maps, but that's about it. A.I. is fairly good, but even with a few basic commands, there's no real control going on. You're just spinning your wheels hoping something will happen.

The online manual won't help much either. Like single-player, it offers a basic overview and not much else. If anything, know your first few matches will be brutal. Also know, you will get better.


Game Mechanics:
Fat Princess's concept borrows from other team-based multiplayer games, but with a fantasy spin. Each team's castle plays home to a number of hat-spewing machines. Donning a cap transforms your character into one of six classes (Warrior, Worker, Mage, Ranger or Priest). Each of these roles comes with a specific on-field task. Warriors are melee fighters, Rangers have ranged attacks... it's all pretty standard stuff.

Fat Princess is an incredibly rewarding experience, at least if you learn and play your role. Trying to go toe-to-toe in melee combat isn't a smart move, nor is trying to play a mage when your team really needs a worker to upgrade your castle. If you're the type of player to put your team's needs over your personal desires, you'll go far in Fat Princess. If not, you can still find success, but won't have as much fun in the long run.

Gamers are fickle. We'll praise one online experience only to jump ship the minute something else comes along. The mere fact that I was able to get into games a year after release shows Fat Princess has some staying power. If you haven't checked it out already, give Fat Princess a look.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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