Playing through the first few minutes of Eat Them!, it's hard not to smile. The crisp cel-shading and comic book style narrative hit you like a refreshing ker-slap! in the face. Not since Rampage have we had such a great time using massive monsters to (ahem) selectively re-configure a city. Well, Fluffy Logic's Eat Them! is bringing this back, and it's still fun as hell.
Above: Shouldn%26rsquo;t there be more snacks %26ndash; er, people %26ndash; on the streets?
Eat Them! Is a simple yet beautiful arcade style smash 'em up where you take control of a Godzilla-like monster tasked with lowering the land value of a city by kicking over office buildings like a fiendish sand castle-wrecking toddler. Power is replenished by eating the local citizens, and an ever growing military presence will serve to distract as you terrorize said citizens. Mission objectives range from causing a certain dollar amount of damage within an allotted time to racing between checkpoints causing as little destruction as possible.
There are also a few other mission types such as prisoner escort or an entertaining zoo animal roundup, but these are too sparse to add notable variety to the short three hour campaign, which effectively boils down to wreaking havoc for a high score. While all of this may sound a bit too one-dimensional to keep your attention longer than a toothpaste commercial, Eat Them! does have a few tricks up its sleeve to keep you coming back.
While you have a handful of horrifyingly bizarre monsters to choose from at the start of the game, much of the re-playability of Eat Them! lies in playing Dr. Frankenstein, creating your very own abominations from body parts unlocked during the campaign. Each part will affect your monster's speed, damage, jump, and power usage. Though some of these parts don't offer much beyond aesthetic and statistical changes, some can radically alter your experience. For instance, instead of just bashing away with two hammer-fists, you can take a slightly more tactical, ranged approach by replacing your monster's arm with a nifty rail gun or rocket launcher.
Above: A lot of TLC went into creating Mr. Sunshine. Fear Mr. Sunshine
The multiplayer mode is another fun aspect to Eat Them!, allowing you and up to three friends to play through the campaign in a single-screen, zoom-in zoom-out fashion (though race missions are split-screen). It is offline only, though this style of arcade play is more suited to a single sofa anyway. The game's biggest issues lie elsewhere...
Ironically, eating "them" is one the most taxing and frustrating aspects of the game. In order to refill your perpetually draining power bar (which falls very quickly) you'll need to press R2 to reach out and take from the snack bar that is the city's streets. Unfortunately, the people tend to scatter in different directions when they see you coming, as if this wasn't the first time their city has been invaded by genetically modified monsters.
Also, you might assume that 10 and 20-story buildings would produce more frightened evacuees at street level, but the roads can get surprisingly bare when you really need some fuel. As far as the actual action of picking up people goes, you'll whiff a lot - the game never gives you a good feel for your monster%26rsquo;s pick-up range. When a mission comes down to a matter of seconds, and you've got a pesky attack chopper shooting at your head, the last thing you want is your 12-eyed, four-legged freak of nature to look uncoordinated.
Above: Zebra basketball is fun %26ndash; too bad there aren%26rsquo;t more of these creative missions
Despite these niggling flaws, Eat Them! offers something surprisingly fresh, fun, and satisfying for only $10. Now available on the PlayStation Network, it's worthy of your cash.
Jan 5, 2011