Fat Princess is genuinely hilarious, and despite some AI and connection issues, it's a whole lot of fun too.

User Rating: 8.5 | Fat Princess PS3
Fat Princess has been in development for quite a while now. Update after disappointing update and there were still no signs of the game coming out any time soon. But it's finally here, and despite a few lingering issues with matchmaking and bot AI, it was totally worth the wait. From the moment you start playing the game you'll be bombarded with humorous menus, with single player being titled "play with yourself" and bots being referred to as "imaginary friends". The humor in Fat Princess is part of what makes it such a fun experience, but it certainly helps that it looks great, sounds great, and is great. With another patch or two the experience could be greatly improved, and this could very well become the best PlayStation Network game of the year.

The game offers you five unique classes to play with, including the mage, priest, ranger, warrior and worker. All classes play differently, with some being more strategic and others being more offensive. The priest, for example, can heal teammates, and once upgraded, can drain health from enemies, but can't kill them. This means priests will have to work together with other teammates to get the job done. The warrior, on the other hand, is a slow but powerful unit who can take out enemies at close range easily, but without backup he still won't last long. The cool thing about classes is that you can switch between them at any time by simply picking up the hat of a fallen comrade or enemy, or from a hat machine in team bases.

Most classes, as listed above, are equally fun to play as in their own ways. The worker can build structures and run fast, as well as bust down enemy structures faster than other classes, as well as upgrade class hat machines, but he's somewhat weak in combat and doesn't have much health to spare. The mage is good for turning enemies into chickens, but sadly, not much else. His attacks all feel incredibly underpowered, with a freeze attack that lasts about three seconds at most and a fireball spell that takes so many shots to kill someone it's practically useless. Moving on to the ranger, you have a class who's somewhat slow in his movement but is also incredibly effective with charged attacks. He starts with a weak bow that can be charged for a more powerful attack, but once he's upgraded you'll get a slow but extremely powerful blunderbuss that can blast weaker classes to bits with a single shot up close.

The game comes with a good amount of features, including online play with four game modes and nine maps, a survival mode called "Gladiate", a story mode and a single player skirmish mode. For $15 this is a good amount of content, but a lot of the single player content (most notably the story mode) is seriously hindered by AI issues. It's often impossible to capture the princess due to dumb AI that won't follow you when you need it to and enemies that will gang up on you and kill you instantly. And since teammates don't have the brain cells to go and bust into the enemies' castle on their own, your only option is to go it alone or try and get some of them to follow you. This really hurts the story mode because in addition to making some levels infuriating, it also makes you care less about strategy and more about going rogue to get the princess or capture control points. It's not a good representation of the strategy usually involved in online matches.

The gladiate mode lets you select a class and then enter an arena with it to fight against wave after wave of enemies. This mode is great for practicing different class abilities, but your score will also go on your statistics page for bragging rights. The "mess about" mode lets you set up a custom single-player game to get to grips with controls and objectives, and it's a good way to pass time if multiplayer is having issues (which, by the way, it is). If you can't connect to multiplayer due to issues or some fault of your connection, then there's a good amount of single-player content here. If the AI is somehow fixed then the single-player will be much more enjoyable, but even in its current state it's good – if not frustrating – fun.

There's some light character customization here that lets you customize your character's skin, eyes, hair and beard, but there's not much to it and because you'll be wearing a helmet most of the time it really feels kind of pointless. It's a nice feature to have, but with so little options available it feels like it has a lot more potential than what you see when using it. Plus, it's kind of lame that changing the character from male to female only changes the voice, seeing as it's extremely difficult to make a character actually look like a woman.

The online play is where the fun is really at. You can take your character online against up to 32 other players, and there's a much greater feeling of accomplishment in winning against real opponents than there is against the stupid bots. There's some definite lag here, with frame rate jumps and occasional clipping errors, but it's so minimal that it's hard to really care. The game runs smoothly most of the time, even when things get hectic, though there's some rare slowdown. If you're one of those who was in the beta and experienced tons of slowdown and lag, then fear not, it's not present here. However, finding a match can be quite difficult due to matchmaking issues, and when it does find a match there's a good chance the game won't be full and you'll end up with a few players and a bunch of bots. It's unfair, and frankly, it's not that fun.

It's fair to say that Fat Princess is one of the best looking downloadable game released so far. It's technically impressive, retaining a smooth frame rate with some solid texture work and lighting, but what's really fantastic here is the art. Fat Princess is insanely colorful, trumping even the likes of Super Mario Galaxy with its insane color palette. The game also boasts a cartoon style with outlines around characters and objects and 2-D plant life scattered about the maps. Speaking of maps, they're quite large and look great. They're nicely varied, with volcano, desert and jungle environments, among others. And fortunately, the sound can keep up. There are some hilarious taunts available, as well as cute voices from units and excellent narration. The music is very fitting, with tunes that are happy, epic and stupid at the same time.

Fat Princess is hilarious and fun, and one of the PlayStation 3's best downloadable games yet. If you can forgive some connection issues and the idiotic AI, then you'll have a blast with this game, and the trophies and unlockable character options, as well as the promise of DLC, should keep you coming back for a very long time. Sure, the combat is a bit shallow, but that just makes it easily accessible, with a good amount of team strategy involved to add depth to the experience. Hopefully some patches can help fix some of the lingering online, AI and balancing issues, because this is an excellent game, and those are the only problems holding it back from even greater praise. Fear not, as Fat Princess is definitely worth your cash.