By Crispy Gamer

Fat Princess - PS3

What's Hot:

Frantic pace; Cute cartoony art style; Mix of action and strategy

What's Not:

Connectivity issues

Crispy Gamer Says: Buy

At first, I didn't know what to make of "Fat Princess."

I'd seen her sizable assets a few times and wondered if she'd know how to work those curves. But after playing around with her a bit, I've decided she's cheeky.

The twisted fairy-tale structure, renaissance-fair music and bawdy humor in her menus all teem with self-referential nerdiness. Instructions tell you to "press (square) to burninate with fireballs," and the auto-generated names for nonplayer characters -- like Caketos or Solid Cake -- will offer up some titters. A dialog box quotes Sir Mix-A-Lot: "Oh my God, Becky. She looks like one of those rap guys' girlfriends." ("Baby Got Back" also plays over the playable end credits, where you can slay avatars of people who worked on the game.) "Fat Princess" is OK with being slightly dorky, and you should be OK with it, too -- because there's a surprising amount of depth to be found in the game's folds.

Developed by Seattle-based Titan Studios, "Fat Princess" is a tale of two kingdoms that go to war once their kings' daughters get addicted to frosted desserts. A prince named Albert comes a-courting to both lands, and each monarch decides to kidnap the rival princess so that Albert will only meet his own tiara-wearer.

The game layers action-adventure elements on top of a real-time strategy template. In the main mode, Rescue the princess, you've got to keep the enemy's princess in your castle while getting your heiress back to the base and onto her throne for 30 seconds. The objective in Snatch 'N Grab is to abscond with your enemy's princess from its base multiple times. Invasion plays more like a land-grab, with teams trying to control as many outposts on the map as they can to reduce enemy morale to zero. Gladiate mode lets you face down an increasing number of enemies in an arena, and measures how long you can stay alive. Whether in multiplayer or single-player, the game makes you feel like your individual effort contributes to changing the tide of battle.

Your avatar works as part of the kingdom's army and can assume one of five upgradeable classes with special skills. Mages can throw bolts of fire or ice, Priests can heal or leech life energy, and Rangers wield muskets or bows. The spear-wielding Warriors take care of the up-close and personal melee combat. Finally, Workers chop down trees and mine metal ore, and assemble and upgrade resources like hat machines and catapults.

One of the cooler aspects of "Fat Princess" is the ability to change classes instantly. Class status gets granted by donning special hats, either from hat machines inside your base or scavenged from fallen comrades or enemies. This keeps the conflict fresh and flexible, and allows for on-the-fly adjustments to your strategy.

And you will need to adjust rather quickly. In one online game I played, our team went from a near-win situation to losing the game within a few short minutes. Deciding whether to repair castle doors or finish the catapult that instantly vaults you into the enemy base could win you the game. Some players will need to keep feeding the princess cake so that she stays heavy and hard-to-carry, while others will storm the opposing base. It's very fast and ferocious, but the heads-up display and voiceover announcements help keep individual players aware of their resources and princess' status.

In "Legend of the Fat Princess," the game's single-player story mode, you'll play through some of the game types across six maps. But the fleshiest part of "Fat Princess" is the multiplayer, which supports 16 players on either side. "Fat Princess" may not be as deep as a "Warhammer" or "Civilization" game, but the way you approach strategy will make a difference. Superaggressive attacking might mean slower upgrades if no one is tasked to mining resources and building new hat machines. Focus too much on upgrading, and your enemy will be knocking down your castle doors pretty quickly.

Certain tasks -- like carrying a particularly buxom princess or taking over outposts -- go faster if teammates help out. Communication is key when playing with other people, because these battles can go on for a surprisingly long time. So, it was annoying to experience a bit of lag in a few online games, and even more frustrating to suddenly get dropped.

Win enough games and you'll get rewards, like new beards and new skin colors with which to customize your tiny, squeaky-voiced avatar. "Fat Princesss" fits in with the weird, boutique sensibility that seems to be thriving on PlayStation Network. While an indie vibe shines through its cute, chibi-esque art style, those cute little body parts are strewn about in puddles of bright red blood. You'll laugh every time a high-pitched death scream wafts over the battlefield, but I gasped the first time my avatar was beheaded.

The way that "Fat Princess" balances smart-aleck humor, supple strategy and wince-inducing violence genuinely surprised me. It reels you in with the cuteness, keeps you interested with the gore, and hooks you permanently with the idea that you can always execute a better battle plan. This is definitely war -- albeit one fought for absurd reasons -- and you should sign up.

This review is based on downloadable code supplied by the publisher.

Article: Copyright © iHaveNet

Video Game Review: 'Fat Princess' -- PS3

Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services