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Naughty Bear Review

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Not as fluffy as you remember

★★★★★

While there’s nothing like a gimmick for earning videogames some much-needed attention in a crowded marketplace, a clever conceit is useless without decent gameplay to back it up. And while Naughty Bear delivers a comical take on console violence and plays fast and loose with genre conventions, its promising premise is lost in a frustrating mess of awkward controls, repetitive challenges, and grotty graphics that look like something from the early days of the N64.

Essentially a homage to Rockstar’s Manhunt – but with human victims replaced by sickeningly-cute teddies – Naughty Bear casts players as the titular plushie as he uses a huge variety of weapons to slaughter enemies face-to-face, or subtler devices of mental torture to drive his foes insane and send them to an early grave.

But while it’s hard not to smile when driving a nervous teddy to the brink of suicide – or when the game’s clever storybook presentation makes it feel as if the brutality has slipped from the dark subtext of a childrens’ fairy tale – the experience is undermined by a raft of problems.

For starters, the fickle in-game camera has a mind of its own, and will often jerk in the wrong direction when you’re trying to line up the perfect headshot, stay hidden in the woods, or carefully set a trap. Your cuddly rivals, which the developers claim are driven by their own personality and motivations, often exhibit inconsistency in their behaviour, which can be deeply irritating when unpredictable moves scupper your intricately-planned strategies. And while there are a huge number of missions to crack across a wide variety of environments, the action always boils down to the same clichéd slaughter, making Naughty Bear a bore long before you get to face-off against the final boss.

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