The Quarter Bin

Videos, Reviews, and Previews For Comic Fans

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – PlayStation 3

Posted by Luke Brown On August - 5 - 2010

In a little over a week, Edgar Wright’s movie based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim books will be in theaters nationwide. Just before the movie hits, Ubisoft will release Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a downloadable side-scrolling beat ‘em up on the PlayStation 3. After playing a preview build for the last few days, I know exactly two things. One, even on the lowest difficulty setting the game is extremely challenging. Two, while it can be frustratingly cheap at points, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is still pretty fun.

If you didn’t know already, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a bit of a throwback title. The characters from the comic and the worlds they travel to are all rendered in wonderfully pixelated high-definition graphics. Even the opening credits with the Ubisoft, Universal, and Oni Press logos are done in this style. Sarah already talked about how good the game looked in her E3 preview, so I won’t talk about that too much today. Once you actually start up a game, you and up to three other friends can pick either Scott, Ramona, Stephen Stills, or Kim Pine to play as. From there, you’re transported to the world map, which like the character select screen, pays loving homage to, among other classic titles, the Super Mario Bros. games from the cartridge generation. As the game follows the plot of the comics, you’ll travel to different locations on the map for each one of Ramona’s evil exes. Even though there’s nothing groundbreaking about the game’s progression, moving from point to point to fight a bunch of thugs over and over again doesn’t really get old.

When it comes to the actual combat, everything is pretty simple. You have two standard attacks (strong or quick), and you have two types of specials. Every character has a unique attack he or she can use when getting overwhelmed, and every character has a different assist/attack from Knives Chau. For example, calling her in can restore your health with a kiss, or leave your enemies hurting thanks to a flying dagger attack. You’re also able to level up and learn new moves (up to level 16), and though the system isn’t very deep, it’s still enjoyable. As fun as it is to fight the random assortment of enemies you’ll encounter, it can be equally frustrating. It’s almost impossible to play the game on your own. Without a partner, you’ll struggle to complete even the first level. Part of that lies in some cheap enemies, and part of that lies in the fact that partners can revive each other when they’re down. Resuscitation is incredibly important in this game as you’ll be getting knocked out quite a bit.

Even though the game scales how many enemies there are based on how many people are playing, it’s still quite difficult to go it alone. That said, it also took every bit of all three lives for all four characters to even reach the third boss battle, let alone defeat him. The difficulty curve is incredibly steep, partially because the game is actually challenging, and partially because the game is kind of cheap. A lot of enemies have unblockable attacks, and when there are dozens of them on screen at once, you can easily be overwhelmed. The game verges on frustrating instead of difficult on more than once occasion, and may turn off more casual fans. In addition to the leveling system, there are items you can purchase that will upgrade your stats, but the stores are more confusing than they are helpful. You don’t see the stats of the items you’re purchasing until after you buy them, so you have absolutely no idea what the item you’re spending money on will do for you. Perhaps this is something that only translates to the preview build, but if that’s the way the inventory and shops are going to work in the final game, that’s one very important section that will be incredibly broken.

After playing through the first three levels of the game, I can still say I’m really looking forward to the final version of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It’s going to be difficult to beat alone, but with a little help from my friends, and a lot of time to replay levels in which everyone dies, I think I’m up to the challenge. I did try out the game’s zombie mode, which was just a time trial to see how long I could last against a never-ending wave of zombies. It’s okay, but it’s certainly not the reason you’ll be buying the game. There’s just so much to like about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that I’m willing to give it a little more leeway, but I hope the final product is tuned just a bit better for the general public who’ll be interested in the game because of the movie.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World will be out on the PlayStation Network on August 10, with an Xbox Live Arcade version coming later this year.

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