Kick The Buddy: No Mercy
No rest for the wicked.
The Kick The Buddy titles are to videogames what the Saw films are to cinema - a sort of torture porn that leaves you wondering whether any sense of revulsion you feel says more about your own enjoyment of the experience, rather than the content you're actually consuming.
Presented with a sandbox arena that contains a loveable - if a little overly-chatty - rag-doll, your task is to do nothing more than inflict as much damage on the main character as possible, for which you're rewarded with more cash to purchase increasingly brutal instruments of torture.
There are the grenades, for example, which explode one after another and send Buddy flying around the screen as they explode in quick succession. Cans of insect spray can be used on his face, while he chirps in agony before choking, and eventually vomiting. If all this sounds a little distasteful, it actually is. There's more slapstick humor to be found in using objects such as toasters, for example, but you may well find it a pretty grim game at times, and more so than even "realistically" violent mainstream games.
No Mercy has a campaign of sorts and it's mission-driven. You'll be tasked with feeding Buddy in the early days, pop him in the toaster until nicely crisp, or simply hurl god-like powers of lightning into his body. Complete enough of these and you'll eventually level up, earn money and work your way through the host of explosives, firearms, paper-shredders and so on that make up the game's weapons.
Regardless of your own position when it comes to taste, No Mercy loses out a great deal when it comes to its assumptions that you have some familiarity with earlier games in the series. There is little to no tutorial for even the basics of the game, and even navigating between menu screens and objects is an exercise in frustration at first. This may be a sandbox game of exploration and unlocking at heart, but the newcomer is left to wander somewhat aimlessly in the early days. That certain objects are only available for premium currency in this paid-for game also can't help but leave a nasty taste in the mouth too.
Despite the cartoon styling of both the game's environment and objects, not to mention the target of your sadistic aspirations himself, this certainly won't be a game to everyone's taste - and it's also one that parents will want to think twice about before handing over to their children. For fans of the series though, it's very much more of what they love about the games, and for those players that will probably be more than enough.
What's Hot:An outstanding physics system, a huge variety of objects to play with, and a decent enough mission system.
What's Not:The tutorial is very thin, and certain objects are only available for rare premium currency.