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Polar Panic Review (XBLA)

Posted by Christophor Rick (TheSuperGuido),

Polar bears are big, scary big! But in this puzzle game from Eiconic and Valcon Games you become the bear and have to squash the hunters who are after you. This is done in a sliding block fashion where you can crush them with ice blocks or detonate them with explosives. There is also a less action-packed part of the game which is simply puzzles that you have to solve in as few moves and as fast as you can.

http://www.polarpanic.com/images/HDR-Home.png

The game offers three modes of play Story, Survivor and Puzzle. Story Mode offers little in the way of a story. An evil corporation wants to pillage the resources of the polar bear’s environment and perhaps the bears themselves so you must stop them. Survivor mode is just that, last as long as you can against wave after wave of hunters. Puzzle mode has pre-made arrangements that you have to sort out to get to the next level.

Survivor mode is very cool. Fast-paced, non-stop action that can get pretty intense at times as more and more hunters keep showing up and if you don’t manage to clear them they literally are around every corner. But that also gives the opportunity for big points as one block could squash a half dozen or more of them. Another cool thing, and this is totally minor, is that as soon as you finish a game, you get a global ranking. You don’t need to go search the leaderboards to find out how well you did against everyone else playing. I like that as it saves time. You’re offered five levels and four difficulties (easy, normal, hard and insane) so it’s great fun for all levels of experience and expertise.

Puzzle mode is a classic sliding block/tile/item mode where you want to solve the puzzle as quickly as you can in as few moves. Sometimes it’s not exactly obvious so you’ll go through some trial and error to get through them. Again there are global rankings on each level and you know where you sit right after you finish a level. I’ve been shooting for sub-100 on all of the levels but some are pretty crazy and if you stop playing people be top your scores eventually. There are 50 levels total and each is scored moves and time.

Story Mode takes through Polar’s (the bear) hunt for revenge against the evil corporation. It consists of chapters that are broken into five stages. There are perhaps a dozen levels. You’ve got a time limit per stage that you must deal with as well as collectibles like snowmen to smash, powerup items and cages to unlock to save your fellow bears. All of this counts toward your score and achievements of course. The game only has two difficulties which is fine because if there was a Hard difficulty on the Story Mode it would be simply impossible to succeed. Some chapters have boss battles where you’ve got to figure out how to beat them.

The graphics on the game are quite good and while the game screen is small on sub-46 inch screens, it’s still very playable. Sometimes though I can’t see if the hunter has a club or a gun which is a problem as they attack differently. But it’s a minor annoyance and there’s a brightness setting to help with that. What is more of an annoyance is when the game respawns you right in the path of danger with no time to react and therefore you lose another life. Also the control scheme could be a little better as many times death is because of what seems an error in control stick processing. I don’t know how many times I’ve pushed to go up or down and because I wasn’t spot on I slip around a cube to my death.

Another thing that is annoying is the amount of work that needs to be done per Story Mode stage and the very little time you are afforded to do it all. I don’t think I have yet saved a single friend from a cage because there’s just no time to do it dodge/kill the hunters, destroy their spawn points, crush the snowman and get to the exit. This is normal and while it obviously shouldn’t be easy, it also shouldn’t be almost impossible.

The sound is well done with a good range of effects and an only slightly redundant http://www.gamersdailynews.com/images/awards/GDN_Silver_Award_LORES.giftheme song which can of course be turned off if need be. It’s got a sort of action movie feel to it and at times the game is seriously action oriented which adds some suspense and keeps you wanting to play.

Overall it’s a very well done game that offers a lot of gameplay for the money. With the multiple modes it makes a lot of variety in the gameplay so you’re not just sliding blocks around. You’re doing a half dozen different things and control blips aside, it’s quite good fun really.

The game is also available on Playstation Network.

 Our Rating for Polar Panic Review (XBLA)
8.5
Replay
A lot of reasons to come back and play again and again including online leaderboards, multiple modes, etc.
8.0
Graphics
A bit on the small side but extremely well done and a great representation of the content.
7.5
Sound
Good range of sound effects. Rather redundant soundtrack but it can be turned off.
9.0
Gameplay
It�s fun, it�s fast, it�s even furious. It�s also a little finicky which makes it troublesome at times.
6.0
Multiplayer/Online Content
Only Survival mode has multiplayer and of course the online leaderboards.
8.0
Overall
A few caveats but overall a lot of bang for the buck. You�ll certainly find something you like in Polar Panic, whether you are a casual puzzle-based gamer or more action oriented.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0
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