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Penguins Arena

Published by frogames
Price $19.95
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

Seems that these days, global warming is a concept that you just canít escape. Itís everywhere from TV to newspapers, billboards to pop music lyrics, and this week itís also the direct cause of our weekly review game. With the melting of the polar ice-caps, Sedna, that wacky patron goddess of the Penguins has decided that there is not enough living space for everyone and that only one of the four tribes of penguins is needed to carry on the gene pool. What better way than to sort out the penguins from the chicks than by a massive snowball fight!

The combatants stand ready I customised my penguin with cool sunnies and a Superman belt

The 4 tribes battle for dominance over a dozen or so landscapes in a cute looking first person shooter. Hurling a snowball at, or punching opposing penguins does not harm them per se, but hit penguins will be pummelled over the landscape to a varying degree. If they are pushed off the island then their team will lose a ticket and the unfortunate penguin will be re-incarnated back on the island and straight back into the fray. When one of the teamsí tickets reach zero, they are eliminated and the last remaining team win the round. Repeat ad nauseum.

The control setup will be very familiar to any player of modern first person shooter games with the mouse used to control direction, aiming and shooting, and the WASD keys for movement. Space is used to jump. All controls are configurable and the y-axis of the mouse is reversible.

Even after being eliminated, you can still lob snowballs from penguin heaven The big bomb is the projectile of choice

The game can be played solo against computer controlled bots (which can provide a significant challenge) or in a multiplayer mode over a LAN or the internet. One client sets up as a server and others connect to the game. Thereís no need for a dedicated server, and the game can be played happily on the machine serving.

Even at the highest resolutions and best graphics settings Penguins Arena runs extremely smoothly in either full screen or windowed mode. The landscapes are artistically designed and visually pleasing. The game is colourful and bright, and the 3-D models and animations are top notch. Sound effects are plentiful and of excellent quality, and as is the case in many indie releases, the music is fitting in style, but somewhat repetitive (probably due to an effort to keep the download file size reasonable).

The biggest drawback that I can find with Penguins Arena is the overly simple gameplay mechanics (even for a deathmatch style FPS) and the resulting lack of long term appeal. There are some pickups scattered around the icy landscapes like a bag of fish that can be thrown in rapid succession, bombs that have an area of effect, and claws that can temporarily increase your penguinís grip on the ground. All of them are quite useful at the right time, but even so, throw your strategy guide out the window and be prepared for some lightning quick and twitchy combat. The game is quite fun to play for a while, but there's just not enough content to keep you coming back for more. Perhaps a King of the Hill style mode or even the old favourite Capture the Flag variant could have added a little longevity to the title.

With no other modes of play bar deathmatch, only one class of penguin and all four teams being identical in all respects except colour, the game loses out badly in terms of score. I can see a place for it as a warm up game at LAN parties since it takes a minimal amount of time to configure and connect, but ultimately it just gets a bit monotonous. After one or two rotations of the maps (and one round only takes a minute or so) youíll be looking for something else. There is very little depiction of violence, and no blood or gore at all. Perhaps a good game to keep the kids occupied for a while?

Although the game stopped responding once in Vista after alt-tabbing out to the desktop, no game breaking bugs or glitches were otherwise apparent and the game has a very solid and robust look and feel to it. Although I doubt that Penguins Arena is going to set the world on fire, it does leave me with the feeling that itís not going to be Frogamesí best release and I will certainly be keeping an eye on what these guys come up with next.

Graphics 94%
Sound 90%
Playability 68%
Longevity 38%
Overall Score 67%
Bronze Star

Published on 01 Feb 2008
Reviewed by Steve Blanch

Keywords: penguins arena review, frogames reviews, frogames games, penguins arena scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.