In a world where every other action game offers a standard assortment of multiplayer modes as an added value, Fat Princess boldly focuses its experience squarely on a clever capture-the-flag variant. Is the resulting game worth it, or is Titan Studios merely trying to feed you empty calories?
The red and blue teams have been at it since time immemorial, and in Fat Princess, they have a renewed reason to fight. If you’re curious why, you can play through the Legend of the Fat Princess mode, and have the story told to you, such at it is, through amusing storybook sequences. But don’t expect to take much away from it beyond the basics of each game type. Though the survival mode can be fun if you’re just killing time, Fat Princess is meant to be played with lots of other real people.
Up to 32 players, in fact, though if your connection isn’t up to speed, expect the game to force you to trade some living bodies for AI bots. The premier mode is rescue the princess, a capture-the-flag variant designed to guarantee that your teammates will actually play defense--no small feat, especially when you’re talking about pick-up teams. Each team starts a match with the opposing princess in its castle, and the object is to bust in, rescue your own, and hold her in your throne room till a clock ticks off.
The twist is that the enemy can feed your princess slices of cake, which are scattered across the game’s eight maps, and the more substantial her girth, the harder she is to carry to safety. Most players, in our experience, recognize this need for constant feeding. As a happy side-effect, you’ll find that your base is seldom undefended.
Frankly though, Fat Princess’s playerbase isn’t the best at coordination, which often makes it more gratifying to play the modes that don’t require as much talking. In team deathmatch, you’re simply out to kill any and all members of the opposing team. Each death costs your team a point, and the first to hit zero loses. Invasion is Fat Princess’s answer to the capture points game. You simply occupy the outposts scattered across each map, and watch your opponents’ score whittle down. Just like team deathmatch, it’s comparatively forgiving for a team of lone-wolf players.
There’s also a straight capture-the-flag mode called snatch ‘n grab, which generally plays out like rescue the princess. In other words, if your team isn’t communicating, expect to either get trounced by one who is, or endure a lengthy stalemate. Finally, there’s a soccer mode that feels more like a diversion—albeit an amusing one—than anything else. If our experience is anything to go by, it’s also the least played mode.
It’s no secret that Fat Princess had a bit of a rough start. A patch released recently has gone a long way toward relieving the connection and lag problems players have been experiencing. As a result, it’s a lot easier to join games now, and lag is much less frequent. In all, the online experience is smooth and relatively hurdle-free.
It takes a while to learn how all the pieces of a good team fit together, but from a mechanical standpoint, Fat Princess is as simple as they come. Of the five classes, four have self-explanatory roles. The warrior is good at hitting things and getting hit, the ranger shoots, the wizard blasts and freezes, and the priest heals and drains life. The fifth, the worker, is the most involved, and often the most crucial.
As a worker, your job is to gather resources and build the assorted structures that will help propel your team to victory--literally, in many cases. From simple ladders you prop against enemy walls to a catapult that can hurl your team across the entire map, the worker turns lumber and ore into the engine that powers war.
A worker’s most important job, though, is to upgrade the hat machines that power up each class. Each class has an advanced form that upgrades its capabilities immensely. Upgraded warriors, for instance, get a powerful polearm that allows them to quickly clear the distance between them and their enemies on a full charge. Wizards, meanwhile, get ice magic to complement their fire attacks, including a devastating area-of-effect freeze.
A well-rounded squad of players working in tandem can have a dramatic effect on a match, even if their team as a whole is incompetent. When you’re in such a group, you’ll have a blast playing Fat Princess. It’s just too bad that this teamwork doesn’t emerge organically all that often. Until the playerbase gets a clue, you’re best served by joining games with a few of your friends in tow.
Cutesy characters committing wanton acts of violence is nothing new, but it’s hard to fault Fat Princess for rehashing the motif. Titan Studios embraces it wholeheartedly, and the results are great. The storybook styling keeps even the most oppressive maps—we’re looking at you, hot sauce—from wearing you down, and the bright primary colors make the blood look extra gooey, and the cake super enticing.
The music is nice and understated, which is good, given how long matches can last, though the announcer’s voice can start to grate, especially when he starts reciting old internet memes.
There isn’t much like Fat Princess on any platform, and though it’s clear that it can grow in any number of ways, the game is already hectic and fun. Highly recommended if you’re interested in a clever twist on the multiplayer modes we’ve grown accustomed to over the years.
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation Network.