18th Nov2013

‘Final Exam’ Review (PS3)

by Paul Metcalf


Playing games can be a complicated experience sometimes, sometimes we want to play first person shooters, sometimes we want to play sports games and sometimes we want to play something that will make our brain work overtime. Then of course there are those times when we just want to beat up wave after wave of monsters just for the hell of it…

Welcome to the game that is Final Exam.

Final Exam takes a school reunion and sticks it into an apocalyptic fight through what appears to be hell.  With a selection of characters ranging from the jock to the nerd you have the choice to play these characters and then do one simple thing, get smashing some monster skulls.  With a nice slice of humour and plenty of horror tropes Final Exam is another addition to the 2.5D platform game with a focus on having fun and not getting into the over-complicated mess of having to deal with emotions.

In a way it’s easy to compare the structure of the game to Left 4 Dead, especially in some of the level designs, from subway systems to dark carnivals I don’t think it’s doing Final Exam a disservice to say there are favourable similarities to the games.  Add to that a strong co-operative mutliplayer mode and the basic structure of the game is in place.  Now the more important thing is how does it play?

Final Exam is easy to start playing and with a learning curve that helps the player get used to the controls it’s not long before you are concentrating on the more important aspect of the game, fighting the demonic enemy.  These come in different forms and often attack in waves, and at random points in the levels sometimes go out for an all-out attack on you, which is basically a survival style where you have to destroy all the monsters to be able to continue.  Levels are quite expansive in design and with the cartoon style graphics the tone of the game is kept humorous and entertaining.  I particularly liked the way the monsters are introduced, instead of just throwing them all into the level each time one is introduced we are given information about them, including how to defeat them.

The information given can be very useful, especially when each creature is actually quite diverse in its style of attack, whether it’s the average grunt style monster that just wants to bash you till you die or the spitter dog like creature that likes to stick to the ceiling it’s useful to know their weaknesses.  To combat these enemies we are given around twenty different weapons, but these have to be obtained throughout the levels.

To deal with these enemies and survive the “horror” of fighting the monsters experience points must be built up, which can then be put back into strengthening your character.  With the obligatory skill tree style upgrade system attack and offence skills can be upgraded to toughen up your character.  This adds to the fun, especially when you start racking up the higher combos, nothing like getting experience points for a 36-hit combo.

For the most part the levels themselves concentrate on missions which are often fetch quests or survive waves of enemies, sometimes you do meet other characters that need your help but for the most part the objective is simple, find your way to the end of the level and do what you have to in order to find your way onto the next.  It’s a simple style in ways but also one that is refreshingly fun.

What Final Exam does right is to recognise how fun horror can be if done right.  It’s not a horror game that looks to scare, or one that looks to cover the screen in blood, rather one that looks to celebrate the b-movie feel of comedy horror.  With a story that may be basic at best, it’s not strong on the narrative but it definitely makes up for it in the action.  Whether it’s played as a solo game or with friends there is plenty to get done in Final Exam, but more importantly plenty fun to be had.

Final Exam is available now on PC, Playstation 3 (PSN) and Xbox 360 (XBLA)

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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