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8 Reviews

Lollipop Chainsaw

Something of a sucker punch

There's a certain achievement in Lollipop Chainsaw, and how you'd feel about having it branded on your Gamercard probably tells you a lot about whether you'd enjoy the game. 'I Swear! I Did It By Mistake!' is awarded to you if you swing the camera around to take a look up lead character Juliet's skirt.

Perhaps you'd be absolutely fine with your Xbox Live friends knowing you'd purposefully taken a moment out from slicing zombies to take a lingering look at her purple polygonal panties, in which case Juliet's cavorting will no doubt keep you entertained even as the action slips into a rut.

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If, on the other hand, you're the sort of person who would be desperately dialling Microsoft in a futile attempt to have it scrubbed from your permanent record, you're probably going to find the entire thing a bit wearing. Besides, given the fact that the camera orbits Juliet at crotch height during cutscenes, as if it's being operated by a horny leprechaun, it's not like you can avoid numerous upskirt glimpses.

It's the sort of thing that's often dismissed, like the theatrical oeuvre of Jim Davidson, as 'a bit of harmless, sexy fun' but ultimately, much like Mr Davidson's output, there isn't that layer of knowing irony that acquits the constant lechery. Whether or not that offends you on a personal level, what you're left with is a game that isn't as imaginative or wittily written as Shadows of the Damned and, as a result, lacks a fair whack of the charm as well. Its only saving grace in this regard is the odd quip from Juliet's disembodied boyfriend Nick, but even they're few and far between (and occasionally completely obliterated by the recurring problem of multiple voice samples playing over the top of each other during dust-ups).

The initial cut-and-thrust of zombie murdering is suitably satisfying, with a sense of impact as you churn through undead flesh with a revving chainsaw or stun zombies with quick-fire cheerleading moves. Juliet's an agile hack and slash protagonist and there's a pleasing rhythm to the combat. What it's lacking is a proper progression system - there are unlockable attacks, but once you have hold of the vastly overpowered Armadillo Spin, which is available early in the game, that will carry you through the entire campaign. The mercifully infrequent shooting sections are less well executed, with free aim unreliable and the lock-on system frustratingly unpredictable.

Variety comes from the minigames that are liberally scattered throughout the story. They range from 80s videogame homages to blending zombie rednecks using a giant combine harvester. What makes these moments isn't necessarily the newly introduced, often slightly clunky mechanics, it's usually the soundtrack. Lollipop Chainsaw happily tosses in brilliant licensed tunes, uses them for a single sequence and then never wheels them out again. It's a fabulously expensive way to go about constructing a soundtrack, but it ensures that those moments remain lodged in your brain like a piece of shrapnel.

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Similarly the boss battles are a welcome change of pace. Your antagonists are are five music-themed Dark Purveyors - good to see the cast of Guitar Hero still getting work - and each must be worn down in a slightly different fashion before you get the ever-so-satisfying chance to bisect them with your petrol-powered pruning tool. Naturally the game ends with a face-off against a huge final boss, but thanks to poor checkpointing and the possibility of insta-death it's actually the least enjoyable to slog through. In a neat touch, each boss encounter has an associated achievement for completing a specific task during the battle, so it's worth taking a quick glance at the list before you get stuck in.

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