I couldn’t be happier that local multiplayer made something of a long overdue comeback in 2014. I grew up exclusively on local multiplayer (cue old man voice – “we didn’t have the internet in my day”), and while I appreciate all the benefits that come with online gaming, in my experience, there is nothing that can match the highs of stuffing your mate on Pro Evo or gunning down a friend mercilessly as they sit next to you with the forlorn look of defeat etched all over their face.
Nintendo brought those experiences back with a bang on the Wii U this year thanks to the utterly brilliant Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. In fairness the PS4 did bring us the excellent Diablo III: Reaper of souls and Towerfall: Ascension, but then again, it has also given us the decidedly not excellent, Fluster Cluck.
Despite the horrible name (come on, Fluster Cluck? Really?), LOOT Entertainment’s local shooter come collect-a-thon isn’t actually all that bad……it’s just bland. Horribly, terribly bland. It tries for a type of zany irreverence (did you catch that great name), but instead delivers (on comedy terms), a poor man’s Worms.
You shoot enemies, you collect animals and turn them in to chickens for some strange reason and you get to modify your ship with an array of, well, I suppose they are supposed to be zany items. It’s all relatively inoffensive, but nothing here is anywhere near as funny or clever as it seems to think it is.
Still, underneath all of the childish humour and forgettable visuals is at least a competent and occasionally enjoyable local multiplayer shooter. Sure, you can fill in the gaps with AI competition, but like all games of this ilk, it’s at its best when played with friends.
There is a co-op mode for those who wish to take a more friendly approach to proceedings, and as you would imagine, an array of competitive modes including standard death match / team death match and the more interesting collection mode that combines killing with collection. As per the co-op mode, this game type encourages a combination of competitive twin stick shooting and material collection.
Here, you are tasked with collecting materials and dropping them off in the ‘Chikkinizer’ that, well, rather unsurprisingly, turns said materials in to chickens. Yes, it’s another example of the zany humour that sadly tarnishes the whole experience, but on a mechanical level, this Chikkinizer does add a level of tactical thinking to what would have been an otherwise relatively brainless twin stick shooter.
The ability to shoot from the front or back is a nice touch, but it’s the mad scrambles to drop of your materials and the clever ways in which the developer has balanced the game that make Fluster Cluck slightly more than the sum of its parts.
In all honesty, the area around the Chikkinizer (God, I even hate typing that word) should be an absolute death trap, and while it can be, thanks to the developer taking the time to carefully balance the experience, you’ll find yourself using as much as the map as possible. While it would be easy to hover around the drop-off point to pick of enemy players, the developers have implemented a system in which the score accumulated decreases greatly for those camping out. It’s not a perfect system, but is one that encourages different styles of play.
Further to this, a collection of game specific perks ensure that things matches stay competetive. Power bonuses for kills and top scores etc all add up to make for a game that is considerably more nuanced than its relatively basic mehcanis might initially suggest.
With plenty to unlock as you progress (including some items that also provide additional power ups), Fluster Cluck does deliver plenty of incentive to keep you ploughing through the game. It’s not much fun on your own and aesthetically, the game is rarely anything other than bland, but with a few friends in tow, Fluster Cluck does deliver a surprisingly enjoyable and deceptively robust experience. It can’t match the likes of Mario Kart 8 or Diablo III for quality co-op gameplay, but as a cut-price alternative, it does deliver its fair share of sofa based entertainment.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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