As a fan of party games in this household, I noted the lack of a certain ‘Gang Beasts‘ that I’ve often referred to in other reviews, but never actually pumped anything out. Eww.
Besides that, the PS4 section is a little weak, and there’s an embargo on some of the other titles in my pile.
If you haven’t heard about Gang Beasts by now, then you either don’t have any friends, or you don’t have the internet. Not that the game is a phenomenon, but it’s one of those titles that put out a divide. The infamous Marmite test.
Gang Beasts, released by Double Fine – of Full Throttle fame, is a multiplayer beat ’em up that relies on physics. Well, doesn’t every fighting game, but in this case, the main characters handle like rag dolls and are as responsive as a sloth in hyper-stasis, on opium.
Turn Left, LEFT!
Let’s address the elephant in the room now, should said pachyderm be the controls: Gang Beasts will test your patience. You’ll get frustrated but laugh it off with friends, trying to disguise that little tick in your left eye, or you’ll launch the coffee table, paint the walls with faecal matter and stamp on a turtle. I don’t know why I added that last one. I like turtles. Ish.
The controls then are…simple. Tease the left analogue stick, and you’ll move your character about and then wiggle, bash and smother the rest of the controls and hope for the best. On paper, you can punch with either arm, head butt and jump, but the real gem is being able to grab hold of other players or objects to stay in the game.
When it comes to players, you scoop them up as if they were a Gang Beasts-style character sculpted from a water bed, lift them up and drop them into the abyss. Like Soul Blade (classic reference), you can win a match with a ring out. It isn’t exclusively about picking up players as you can land a wobbly haymaker on them and knock them out.
Pick Up Techniques
Of course, your opponent can retaliate by squirming about, repeatedly punching you or even landing a headbutt. Still, the best defence is err.. a defence, as you can hold on to dear life by grabbing them or a breakaway object such as a fence, taking them with you for the draw.
This is where Gang Beasts shines. Unless you’ll playing against a plant, chances are each match you play will be unlike the other. Yes, it does get repetitive, and there aren’t enough modes, a.k.a. variety, but, depending on who you play with, there’s a lot of replayability in the game as it’s so unpredictable.
Some items can be picked up and used as make-do weapons, but using your fists count as well as you can essentially knock the other player out and drag them to their doom.
Solo Outings And Long Waits
If you plan on playing Gang Beasts on your own, I don’t recommend it. There’s no campaign mode or background history of the fight locations, any over-sized bosses to beat or coins to collect – it’s a series of deathmatch type games made to play locally with friends or online.
It’s unfortunate then that the online play is very hit and miss – for a couple of reasons. First is obvious: the loading times and the lag. This goes with the territory with online play, but I found that Gang Beasts took a while to find other players in the lobby, then once it got going, the framerate would drop. I never usually notice this.
The second problem is that should you get a decent connection, these battle royales can last for a long time. A lot of the time, other players can’t finish the match. There will be instances where only two players remain, and each time one throws the other out of play, they somehow manage to hold on or come back. This scenario goes on and on and on until a countdown timer appears.
Now, if this is with your friends, you can shout abuse at one another, attempt to steal the controller off them and sabotage their efforts, or at the very least, interact with them. It’s not the same with Gang Beasts online. But, you can have friends join you in a match and team up against other players. That’s the redeeming aspect.
What’s On Offer?
We’ve concluded that having no friends is a lonely issue and worse when it comes to lag with strangers, but are there any other modes in the game different than hitting one another? Well yes, but the concept of the game is to hit the other player or at least wind them up by grabbing them at every opportunity.
A summary, if you will, here are the other modes other than the main game:
- Gang Mode: This is team battle; officially gang up and biff the other players, one holds the other one down while you nut them. It’s colour-based too, so you don’t need to don an item of blue or red as your whole team will change colour.
- Waves: A survival mode if you will. Join other players and take on a wave of enemies one by one. We often found that we’d start in the underground section, getting knocked onto the tracks by a Trump-like figure and subsequently taken off into the void by a speeding train.
- Football Mode: Why? What seems to be a common theme with a lot of party games is a football (or soccer if you’re that way inclined) mode with an oversized ball. There’s a dedicated kick in Gang Beasts, but after you’ve played this once – at the most twice, you’re unlikely to come back.
In all honesty, I’d wager that you’d stick with the main game and Gang Mode at a push. Waves is ok, but it’s better to play against one another. While I’m sure your Sun Tzu approach to combat is admirable, to get the other player to carry out your plan – scrap that: even doing the task yourself if so sketchy and unreliable in Gang Beasts you just have to go with the flow.