Pain: A Review
Pain in the Neck
Before I begin, I have to vent my frustrations. Not on the game itself, but the process of obtaining it and actually playing it. Now seeing as I got this from Amazon, it's going to be hit or miss - it either comes quickly, or I have to wait nearly 2 weeks for it to even go to the status of "Dispatching Soon", let alone being flung from a catapult and waiting to come back down to Earth. Then there's the fact that single player is locked. Now here's something that's worried a lot of players and I'll put it in bold so if anyone comes here wanting to know how to unlock it, it's fairly simple: To unlock singleplayer, you have to go into "Crash Course" mode to complete the tutorial. This goes completely unexplained at the start of the game, and it makes me wonder why it's compulsory. It's not just going in and coming out of it, but you have to complete it. And this isn't easy peasy, ill 'n' queasy, this is one of the most overly difficult and precise tutorials I've ever had to do - for a game that's simply ragdoll physics and has zero rules in the slightest.
My first impressions of this game date right back to the earliest gameplay videos, where the prototype allowed you to trigger certain events in a sequence to cause the maximum amount of pain. What it was reduced to was a ragdoll physics game which - upon putting it in the console - almost made me snap the disc faster than the characters' bones. My will to live run down faster than this ragtag crew of masochists. But outside of this, the rest of the game is good!
Pain was developed by Idol Minds (fitting name) and published by SCEE/SCEA depending on your region, and was first released as a downloadable title for the Playstation Network. Due to high demand and not enough access to the network, SCEE decided it best to push the game onto consoles and charge the usual full retail price, but for that to work it came with all unlockable characters and maps. However for regular online updates, patches and content players would have to be online for it. In North America the game saw the downloadable version 4 months before the European version, but only Europe saw the Blu-Ray version.
But rather than discuss all that it's high time we launched ourselves into the salami slicer! This is my Pain review!
"Splatting against the a train as it zooms past, only to derail into the main road with a crash is as good as you'd expect!"
A kick in the crotch
Pain isn't anything new, but it still holds all the satisfaction that one can get from a ragdoll game and more. The image alone of Daxter being launched from an industrial-strength catapult made of wood and a rubber band, flying through the air singing the Batman theme and crashing into Nurse Ginger's cleavage on a billboard is worth £15 - experiencing it is another thing altogether. This game isn't aimed at everybody and if you can't live with Bottom-esque stupidity, overly dramatic battering and silly innuendo and double meanings you clearly won't like this. For Pain is for those who want a casual and mostly meaningless experience, as well as the need to hit something but don't have the balls for it. In fact, it's what I call the ultimate "Last Supper" game, where everyone passes the pad around the sofa like it's a loaf of bread and in the process, have a good time before getting crucified. Outside of causing havoc in various modes (each of which involve causing your character to wish he were out of this Limbo), there's nothing else to do, so I'd advise you watch your wallet before picking this one up.
The gameplay is fairly simple: the idea is to launch a character from a catapult into objects in and around the environment, before guiding their broken body into hazards and objects to rack up points. You also have to build up your "Ooch" meter, allowing you to punish your character further by making them 'hop' a small distance into harm's way. During flight one can also 'drift', helping you aim in different directions and pose at the same time for comical effect and more points if you can hold the position. The hazards you'll be up against are civilians, signposts, explosive mailboxes, windows and doors, traffic cones and my personal favourite: vehicles. Splatting against the a train as it zooms past, only to derail into the main road is as good as you'd expect!
Not only this but there's other objectives as well, such as getting rid of all the monkeys on the map; bowling games with you as the ball and many others depending on the map. In Multiplayer you can have a lot of fun colliding with other players and preventing them from getting a big score by saving them with a good ol' fist to the face as you soar through the skies.
To scrape out the lifespan you can also play as multiple characters most of which are already unlocked on disc. You can play as Santa, Nurse Ginger, David Hasslehoff, some punk and even Elvira.... but I wouldn't want to hurt her lovely little body and those blood packs hanging from her chest.... I mean.... she's too heavy to fly.
Another thing this games does well is provide a lot of work required for trophies; you're required to get 100,000,000 points in Downtown; get every type of PAIN for each limb; break 500 glass panes as a female and a huge amount of other things. Not only that but the game itself has loads of accolades and rewards so even if they don't show up on PSN outside of the game, inside the game you have a lot to work for. It adds a huge chunk of replayability and if you can't appreciate the hours it requires to rack up such high scores and the amount of fun you're supposed to have with them, that's another reason why this game should be left at the store.
For maximum fun I would suggest you get some friends together in local play and try to have some score attacks, or if possible get online with the game and have a lot of fun. Even though I was laughing my socks off when I turned the "Coral Hotel Essex" into, well, remove some of those letters and you'll see, it could still be far more fun with mates. As soon as I discovered that, I invited two close friends over just so we could try and take down the C, EL and ES in on that hotel's sign in the fewest turns. So things like that can make for a jolly experience, and we could've done that for a lot longer than we did.
Like a day in Salo
Pain doesn't take itself very seriously but the developers sure have - the environments, the sounds and the physics are all very good and to be perfectly honest it deserved an on-disc release. The character models are stunning and let's not forget this game had footage from before the PS3's release, and the visuals had shown the console's visual capabilities. It's not entirely beautiful in the same way as Little Big Planet (nor does it have that kind of voice talent - Stephen Fry FTW), but it is as clever and that's where a lot of this game's appeal comes from. The design, the placement of environmental hazards and point banks, as well as how you can achieve things and the endless amount of possibilities. The sounds are quite too, particularly the voices. My favourite has to be the default character Jarvis and his hilarious quotes, though I've yet to play all of the characters so I can't make a final judgement yet. Finally the physics make this game even more likeable because without them, this ragdoll game might as well have been put on Kongregate (I've nothing against them, they have some awesome upgrade games there). But the character physics, vehicle physics, NPC physics are all good and make the experience far less bland than it could've been.
I'll leave my conclusion now and just say that this is a fantastic game and if you like what you've read, check out some other reviews and see the videos just in case. Remember though, watch your pennies and make sure you don't get ripped off - this isn't a very long game and relies on replaying, not extended periods of time on the same map over and over again. I'm going to give this game a six out of nine, as well as the "Chainsaw Hero" accolade! Even though this game isn't gory it still deserves the accolade for being a testicle-grinding, bone-crunching romp which thankfully doesn't pain us when we play it. What it does, it does well, but it simply isn't enough for everyone.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to state them in the comments below! Until the next time, have a pleasant day!
Whilst lacking, the gameplay is still enjoyable and relies on the player to give it multiple playthroughs. What it does, it does extremely well!
This game's lifespan is hard to score, though it has no limits and no restrictions, but some like regime in a game, and thus you might not like this one.
You're fully concious of somewhat stiff control, but thankfully it's managable.
Everything from the environments all the way down to boob physics is there - another title that shows how gorgeous a game on the PS3 can be!
Very little music and voices, but what you hear is good. The Pain theme however isn't my thing, but catchy regardless.
A game like this is easy to put down, but it's also easy to pick up again. It can gather dust on your shelf but the disc inside will be well preserved.