Take a bunch of plywood that's lying around, along with an impossibly large piece of industrial rubber, and build a slingshot of epic proportions, right in the middle of a city. Now that you've got this instrument of destruction in your possession, what do you do with it? Why, fling yourself into every window, person, and giant donut in the city!
Does Pain deliver, or are you just left holding your nuts in agony the whole way through? Find out in this edition of Chester and Rice at the PSN!
Developed by Idol Minds
Distributed by SCE (PSN)
Released on November 29, 2007
Developer Idol Minds wanted to give us a little something fun to do with our PlayStation 3: put a man on a haphazardly-made slingshot and fire him into an unsuspecting city street. Using the Havok engine, the game allows you to mercilessly fling your character into explosives, cars, people, and just about anything that can hurt. The thought of it made me giggle with glee, to be honest. I'm a bit of a sadist at heart.
Unfortunately, the game wasn't what I was hoping for. When I'm looking to destroy things, I want gigantic explosions and utter devastation. The crash mode in the Burnout series is what I really hope for. Once I got past my initial disappointment with how the game was going to go, I began to see the fun in it.
The game starts you off with a lengthy tutorial. They want you to understand just about every concept that the game is throwing at you, and actually makes you utilize everything. By going through the tutorial, you learn a lot of the tricks about the city -- how items will fall, where certain chain events can be started, along with the general layout of everything. The game allows you to grab onto objects, affect your trajectory mid-flight, and even have body spasms while you're on the ground to get you into different positions.
Once you're out of the tutorial, there are three main options for single player: "PAINdemonium," "Mime Toss," and "Spank the Monkey." "PAINdemonium" is your typical sandbox mode -- you play around in here to try and get the highest scores you can, trying to unlock a variety of trophies. "Mime Toss" has you flinging yourself at mimes in order to knock them into panes of glass. Finally, "Spank the Monkey" has you trying to displace some monkeys from where they're perching. Both "Mime Toss" and "Spank the Monkey" are trials in speed and accuracy, with awards based on how quickly you complete the level.
A large part of the game's enjoyment lies within being a sadistic bastard, and causing as much pain as humanly possible to your character. The game rewards you strongly for it, exclaiming things like "nut smash!" or "decapitation!" Earning these exclamations really help out your points, and will earn you trophies in the long run. This all got boring after about fifteen minutes, though. Creating enough havoc to garner yourself any trophies is difficult, which I think is great -- but other than scoring a trophy every once in a while, the game doesn't give much of a feeling of satisfaction.
I think that my distaste for the game lies in the line they try to walk between being a game like Burnout, but also having a realistic physics engine, and so it creates a paradoxical element. How can you cause massive destruction if the physics engine takes out a huge chunk of your velocity by hitting an arm on a lamppost? I'm sure some of this is to blame on how everything in the city is laid out. There were distinct patterns I needed to follow to rack up points -- it didn't allow me to cause a wide spread of damage throughout the map. I'd just catapult into one area, and do my best to cause horrible destruction there. Rarely, if ever, was I able to move my character into another area and cause enough damage to be notable.
The game does provide explosive objects, such as gas canisters, caution boxes, and cars, that will send you hurdling towards another area. In order to effectively use them, though, you would have to go through a significant period of trial and error in order to figure out just the right method of racking up points in an area and then launching yourself off into another location in the hopes of getting more points.
The multiplayer aspect didn't entertain me terribly, either. It's more classic game types that you can go at with a friend, taking turns (with up to four players). What I was hoping to see -- and has yet to be implemented -- is an online option. Either way, though, playing a game like HORSE is only good for about five to ten minutes of fun before it gets boring and it's time to move onto other things
Pain shoots for the stars, and ends up falling very short of its goal. A combination of level design and game mechanics sapped the fun out of playing the game for me, and no matter how many nut shots I gave my character, that happiness wasn't going to manifest itself. The idea itself seemed like a lot of fun, but in the end, it ended up mucking itself up too much. If you're dying to pick up a game on the PSN, you're better off spending your money on Everyday Shooter, Calling All Cars, or flOw first.
On the sadism tip, I'm with Brad. There's something devilishly delicious about catapulting a human being with a rubber band. If said human being happens to slam into a gigantic donut, which rolls into the street and is dragged down the block by a car, all the better. Where I don't agree with Brad is in the extent of the destruction -- as far as I'm concerned, there's plenty in Pain's one environment that can be broken, smashed, dragged, or blown up.
Did I say "one environment"? Oh, right -- while the game ships with three single-player game types, and three multiplayer modes, they will all play out in the same downtown environment. Granted, there's a lot going on here, and finding all of the different ways in which to wreak havoc should keep you entertainment for a while. After you launch your poor little dude, everything can be grabbed, and either dragged or thrown, leaving more destruction in your wake.
The problem is, it won't be long before you'll want a change of scenery. There's only so many times you can giggle at the mess caused by a giant bowling ball, or feel that pang of satisfaction when you shatter storefront glass. The game even gives you the option to choose your play environment ... yet only gives you one choice.
The game's three single-player modes also leave you with the feeling that the game is incomplete. "PAINdemonium" is the game's open-ended mode, in which the objective is to rack up as many points as possible by causing massive amounts of destruction (a la Burnout's crash mode). "Toss the Mime" has you launching at, then tossing, an (extremely obnoxious) French mime into sheets of glass; "Spank the Monkey" is simply a matter of launching at a never-ending series of monkeys who appear throughout the environment.
All of these modes provide some fun, but only for short periods of time -- you'll be dying for variety in the way of a another destructible area or new game modes within a half an hour. Fighting for top medal spots is difficult (and sometimes frustrating) enough, but finding out top honors only unlocks a more difficult level of play on that same mode is infuriating. It's obvious that more content (environments and possibly game modes) is in the works; just looking at the empty selection screens screams "microtransactions." I haven't felt more like I was playing half a game than since I'd purchased Lumines for Xbox Live Arcade.
The multiplayer modes may be where the game shines the most, as sitting next to and trying to outdo a friend's destruction can be good fun. The "Fun With Explosives" mode is particularly entertaining -- explosive boxes are placed throughout the environment, and slamming in to one will cause your character to go flying. With any luck, you'll bounce back into another box, causing a chain reaction, not unlike a ball bouncing inside of a pinball machine. It's in this mode that Brad (and other explosion junkies) will find their nirvana. It's unfortunate that these multiplayer modes (which also include is "HORSE" and a "Bowling" game) are local only; kicking back and playing some quick games online with friends could provide a fun, quick diversion between games of Warhawk.
With Pain, what you get is pretty fun, but there's just not enough. Still, $9.99 is truly only a fraction of what you'd pay for a full retail title game, and I guess that's exactly what you're getting. If you're looking for fun in small bursts (the lack of variety may have you bored in under 30 minutes), or you're willing to expand the game with future content (there are already two launch-able characters available, Santa and Cookie, for a dollar a piece), you may find the value in a little Pain.
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