Kick-Ass has been a big success at the box office recently, and as with any potential movie franchise a video game tie-in is bound to be on the cards. Developed by WHA Entertainment and Frozen Codebase, Kick-Ass: The Game closely follows events in the film in an effort to capitalize on its big screen appeal. Does it fare any better than most games based on movies? Unfortunately, No. Everything about the game screams of a product rushed out the door to meet its release date - there is almost no variety in the enemies, combat, or environments. It's full of technical issues, such as bugs and frame rate drops, and the presentation is best described as bland and sloppy.
The plot in Kick-Ass closely follows that of the movie, featuring the three misfit superheroes (Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl, and Big Daddy) through their adventures fighting crime. Story elements are mainly delivered through a series of comic book style dialogue at the beginning of each level. They don't have any of the personality from the film, or any voice acting so it's usually safe to skip them. Occasionally, a short clip from the movie will appear which is a nice touch, but isn't nearly enough to keep players engaged.
Kick-Ass is a pretty standard beat em' up, with an extremely simple control scheme and repetitive combat that lacks depth. Players can play as any of the three main characters, unfortunately they all play identically. There are two types of attacks - square performs a light attack, triangle a heavy. After experimenting a bit, it quickly becomes apparent that the best strategy is to create separation using heavy attacks then mash light attacks on individual enemies. This process works throughout the entire game because enemies all behave the same way. Once spotted, they swarm the player and attack relentlessly. Overall, the combat in Kick-Ass boils down to button mashing the same basic combos until an area is clear - rinse and repeat.
Along with being incredibly predictable, the AI is also very easy to break. Enemies in Kick-Ass all seem to need their prescriptions updated because their line of sight is ridiculously short. Players can use this to their advantage by slowly inching towards one enemy, which will trigger its attack, but will leave the rest unaware anything has occurred. It's a useful strategy to keep the fighting small scale, but wouldn't be necessary if the combat and AI weren't so poorly designed.
That being said, the game does have an interesting leveling system. After reaching a new level, players are given skill points to enhance their defense, attacks or abilities as they see fit. The intriguing part is it lets players redistribute these skill points at any time. For example, attack points can be deducted and used for defense if the situation is getting chaotic and health is declining fast. It's a useful feature that adds some strategy to an otherwise plain experience and should be implemented in other games.
The presentation is a train wreck, suffering from numerous issues such as repetitive environments, an awkward camera, frame rate drops and poor sound effects. The environments are a mixture of generic city streets and warehouses that are frequently copy and pasted into multiple levels. Another annoyance is the camera, which constantly gets stuck behind a piece of the environment, obscuring the player's vision. It can be moved manually using the right stick, but by the time it's corrected substantial damage has been dealt by enemies. Frame rate drops seem to randomly occur if more than five enemies are on screen, which is a surprise considering Kick-Ass' visuals aren't exactly cutting edge. The sound effects, fire being particularly bad, feel like one of the developers recorded them on a cellphone. Overall, the presentation is a complete mess - the lack of polish clearly shows Kick-Ass was not ready to see the light of day.
If all of this sounds pretty bad, there's also a cooperative mode which allows friends to join in with the action. Up to three players can tackle the eight level campaign and unsurprisingly playing with friends doesn't magically fix the situation. In fact, the camera becomes even more problematic - inconsistently following different characters, a similar problem was present in PixelJunk Eden but was eventually patched. It's highly unlikely many people will be eager to replay this game.
Kick-Ass is a classic example of a hastily thrown together tie-in game, trying to capitalise on the film's recent release. The game's environments, combat and enemies are extremely repetitive, there are a number of technical problems and the presentation, simply put, is awful. Even if you are a huge fan of the film, this is one to steer clear of.