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Final Exam (PS3) Review: The Grade is Posted in the Main Hall

FinalExam-4

Final Exam is a 2.5D Side Scrolling brawler that prioritizes violence against mutant creatures. Two player Co-Op for local and 4 Player online, Final Exam shows that even the side scrolling brawler genre has something new to offer in today’s gaming industry.

While they were going to their old high school for what was supposed to be the party of their life, four long-time friends end up in a ghost town full of monstrous creatures. Short, simple, and to the point just how I like it. The story is nothing to throw rocks at of course, but it does have this story of college horror movie project feeling to it and that’s respectable. The game isn’t trying to make this a story driven experience, that’s why I can respect the story and have it be a positive for the game rather than a negative.

You can play as four characters in Final Exam, each represent a specific class archetype but when playing solo, being the football character is the best option. Each character has unique skills and proficiencies when it comes to stats and weapons. Like the football guy, he is proficient in melee weapons and having a lot of HP. While the nerd is more toward throwing objects etc. Picking a character that fits your playstyle is obviously the best way to play this game but it doesn’t hurt to go out of your comfort zone. The character variety is surprisingly different given the simple early on presentation.

You have your basic combat all hammered out. Light attacks and heavy attacks, upon spending some “CP” you can earn other ways to get combos like aerial juggling and slams. Obviously melee attacking is the main way to dishing out damage, but the fluid combat allows you to mix throwables like grenades and gunplay almost seamlessly to generate massive combo numbers. I was genuinely surprised with how smooth the combat is. You can be unleashing the beast on three enemies, but a new enemy shows up behind you about to attack, so you drop the current mutants and dash over to the attacking mutant and open a can of whoop-ass before it breaks your streak.

This is a point driven game, and getting high combos is the way to play; there is a catch though. If you get hit, your combo disappears and the points do not register. You can manually register the combos by pressing the Down button on the D-Pad to make sure you get that 200 hit combo under your belt. I found that guns do the best job with gaining distance between mutants while retaining your combo. Which is what I assume the inclusion of guns was for.

Level progress rather well and the pacing is nice. The difficulty is high enough to offer a challenge but easy enough to play the game by yourself. Certainly some areas are designed for more than one person. There is a level where you drive a float that is modified with cannons, machine guns, and a flamethrower, but to use them all you have to be in the seat for that weapon. So it is difficult to juggle all the weapons while trying not to die. Those kind of levels also break up the game into something that isn’t but beating the snot out of monsters. Variety is good, and in this game it is welcomed.

The game is paced well, but when playing by yourself you will find yourself playing maybe one or two levels before switching the game off. It doesn’t keep you interested and that’s a letdown. The game is heavily focused on multiplayer gaming and that is not a bad thing, but it shouldn’t have to be the main way to have fun. The second issue with Final Exam is that it doesn’t have much content to offer. Replay value is almost non-existent. The most you can get is to max out all the characters, get the weapons, and beat your high score. All of which are rather easy. Especially when playing with more than one person.

Final Exam drives home the 2.5D Brawler home with a great combat system and unique character development skill tree, but falls in replay value and game content. It leaves you wanting more and feels there may be something missing. For the price, you get a nice game to play with friends, so in that respect, this game is worth it. You can get it on PSN and Steam now. I give Final Exam a 7/10.

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