Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise review for XBLA, PSN

Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Also On: PSN
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Behaviour Interactive
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

After the bait and switch pulled on us after the first Naughty Bear in which 505 Games promised a premise of using stealth killing, movie parodies, and teddy bears, but instead delivered a clunky frustrating mess, the developers promised to create a more satisfying a fun sequel. The result is really second verse, same as the first, as the old clich? goes, as on paper Naughty Bear 2: Panic in Paradise sounds like Hitman with teddy bears, but turns out to be well?s**t man?if I?m to be so blunt.

Visually NB2 looks the part it promises with ?bearishly? cute and characters this side of the Care Bears, dressed in multiple costumes just kicking back on a resort island. Naughty Bear, who once again wasn?t invited to the party, is more than a little ticked off about it. The stealth kills look pretty cool and are especially graphic for a game sporting an E10+ rating and is honestly a bit more brutal than the first game that had a Teen rating. That being said, there are even a larger variety of stealth kills this time around, especially the ones that utilize a prop such a lawn mower, prickly tree, shark infested ocean, etc. that will keep the kills from growing stale as they did in the first offering. That isn?t to say the game doesn?t still feel repetitive, as it certainly does, especially with the poor load times, and the inability to skip the opening scenes and commentary. The overall animations of the characters look fine and even the sound track is whimsical and fun. Sadly the narrator makes a return and becomes quite annoying, especially after multiple attempts and fails on the same level.

Where Naughty Bear 2: Panic in Paradise takes a turn for the worse, much like its predecessor, are the mechanics themselves that just don?t work and are ?unbearable?. On the surface the game attempts to blend cool ideas of a Hitman/Metal Gear clone, but the controls and collision detection are so far off it takes a sick, yet amusing premise and botches it up like a 5 year old in a Build a Bear shop. Sadly this is where NB2 misses the mark in one fell swoop. Starting with the melee attacks that are mostly useless and without a target lock you will find yourself taking on more hits that delivering. What?s more, you can swing and miss which leaves you even wider open to onslaughts.

The idea of stealth is there, but is rarely implemented as the only real two place of true cover come in the wooded areas and when you are in costume. Otherwise the level design is so open and the line of sight for the bears is so great that unless you are in one of the two aforementioned areas or outfits you will find it nearly impossible to succeed in approaching others without notice. Sure while you are in costume/disguise you can perform the necessary kills you wish, but you also take on an almost invincible quality. Even when just spotted doing the naughty outside of costume, and the bear who spotted you comes to throw down, they are automatically struck dumb and believe you are not the same bear that just performed the naughty deed. This element takes what little fun there is and throws it out the window like you activated a cheat code. So you can have it either frustratingly irritating or a breeze to complete, but neither option is satisfying for a gamer looking to enjoy a challenge.

The plus side to anyone who may be able to get by or find the games entertaining niche ?bearable? is there are plenty of costumes, customizations, and multiple ways to earn points on each level which in the end provides a remarkable amount of content for a $15 game . There is no one real way to complete any level, and even better, there are many unique ways to deliver a satisfying kill. Toss is 11 levels, 36 new bears to torture, and oodles of new costumes, you will find a good buck an hour?s worth of time as you can easily fill 15 hours of game play time if you are so willing.

It is such a shame that the gameplay mechanics once again fail Naughty Bear, as there will not many fans willing to give this second hand bear another chance after this. I think if Naughty Bear really wants redemption he should head over to the offices at Behaviour Interactive and 505 Games and lop off their heads for ?em-bear-assing? him one more time.

Grade: D