Smashing, Bashing, Geek-Face Mashing Fun
It isn’t very often that a game puts you in charge of a whole team of players that have such a complete disregard for the safety of so-called ‘Geeks’. You are allowed your own stadium for sports practice, you have you very own blacksmith and mini games to get stuck into. Oh, and I think I forgot to mention that you are also given the much-relished opportunity to repeatedly smash a tragically stereotypical geek into parts of the atmosphere that traditionally require breathing apparatus for survival. It’s a good job that breathing isn’t on the list of things that our geek will be doing for much longer, because well, he won’t needing oxygen for much longer.
Anger management is a very personal thing, and the form it takes is different depending on the person whose anger needs controlling. For some, a stress ball will suffice. Many have to take up some light to moderate exercise to exorcise their demons. Some people even swear by controlled breathing techniques, relying on the power of the lung to get them to a level of chill that pill simply won’t achieve for them. What happens when all of these techniques fail, however? When exercise and pneumo-centric techniques of stress relief simply won’t cut it, then I suggest you direct your simmering fury towards the flash-based world and see if ‘Berzerk Ball 2’, the newest distance-based geek-smashing game from Berzerk Studio, can do you and your ever-building levels of anger any favours. Two years have passed since the release of this game’s predecessor, and the guys and gals at Berzerk Studio seem to have produced a title that manages to provide quantities of entertainment that equal the level of anticipation felt for the sequel. Get your clicking finger at the ready, and prepare to nullify the traditional sentiment that violence solves nothing: in the game of Berzerk Ball 2, violence solves everything.
Release Date: 15/12/2012
Available on: iOS, Android
Spoilt for Choice
You begin the adventure at the selection screen where you are presented with a generous team of six geek-haters and nerd-crunchers, each possessing a generalised hatred for alternatively-dressed individuals with inappropriate ponytails/love for computer code/affinity for massively multiplayer online games, and names that are as ridiculous as they are unusual. From Etienne to Marcus, Lachhh (that’s three H’s and is not a misspelling) to Ballon, and even the inexplicable Bed and V-P, these exotically-named gentlemen and lady form the basis of the entire game, acting as your team of perpetrators who are responsible for the wonderfully excessive violence. The customisation of your geek is also an option that is given to you, and is one that anyone with a grudge against these forum-dwelling, eternally-dissatisfied, borderline members of society would readily take up. This selection of characters is simply the tip of the sizeable iceberg of choice and variety that floats below the surface of all of the action (in metaphor form only; there isn’t any water in this game). After making this choice, you are afforded the opportunity to enter the main arena where the main bulk of bashing and smashing will take place.
Indicator meters are used to determine both the angle and the power of your shot; the needles on the gauges undulate rapidly and are stopped by simply clicking at the appropriate moment (which is preferably within the white zones of the meters), with the combined angle and power being the deciding factors of your geek’s initial trajectory. The similarity to any other distance-based launch-em-up game all but ends after this initial hit, however. From here, what determines the final distance you achieve is a combination of factors that are unique to this game; these include the various stat points of your character, the number of flying creatures/floor-dwelling, crawling creeps, the number of power smashes available to you, and finally, your experience level. There are two kinds of basic smash move that you are capable of within the game: the ‘Meteor Smash’, which is performed by clicking when the geek is comfortably at cruising altitude, and the ‘Hell Raiser’, which is achieved by clicking when your geek is nearing the ground. Both moves are essential for the lengthy (yet decidedly unsafe) passage of the Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast through the environment: ‘Hell raiser’ provides the altitude of the geek, whereas ‘Meteor Smash’ injects momentum into his unfortunate journey. Using these two moves appropriately will result in considerable distance, and therefore experience points rolling in.
A Smashing Experience: Amass to Progress
That’s right, your progress is based on experience points, and it makes for an enticing system of in-game development that will have you as addicted to the game as US TV fans are to the extraordinarily breathtaking Breaking Bad. Experience points are gained through simply playing the game: the further you get your geek to travel, the more experience points you will reap from your efforts. After each round of geek-launching, the experience points are tallied up and go towards your ‘Team XP’; if you collect enough experience points to shift your team up a level , your active character will also step up a level, to a maximum of four level increases per team member.
By collecting these experience points, you are not simply levelling up for the sake of levelling up, however; the experience points format is simply a system of upgrade that allows for performance-based progression through the game by giving you one ‘stat’ point for each level that you manage to climb. These stat points can be distributed at the player’s discretion to any one of nine different ‘skills’ or ‘attributes’ that form the basis of your hitter’s aptitude for gaining the largest distance possible. By skills, I am referring to such physical qualities of your hitter like power, stamina and efficiency, but also secondary qualities that indirectly affect the velocity of the geek such as how well-oiled your geek is (so that he loses less speed when hitting the ground), the number momentum-boosting creatures encountered that prolong your geek’s journey, and the vigour with which the geek bounces off the ground. These variables serve to make the game more fun to play, while giving the player an incentive to invest more of their time in doing so. While the act of gaining stat points is admittedly improving for the sake of improvement, it cannot be denied that the road to the upgrading of your team is ridiculously entertaining and wildly addictive.
Yes, Let the Rage Flow Through You
While flying through the air, you will inevitably collide with various airborne creatures that look like flying molluscs (who are a long way from home considering that they traditionally hail from more watery surroundings) and land-borne creatures called ‘creeps’ are seen when bouncing on the ground. As geek-boy flies haplessly through the air, he amasses bits of scrap metal which you accumulate in the form of screws (the in-game currency of Berzerk Ball 2); each collision with a live creature also results in the ‘rage’ meter filling up a tad. Once the meter is full, you will be able to perform a ‘power smash’, which sends your geek packing with such speed that he momentarily ignites and becomes aflame after receiving the most over-the-top, comically-ridiculous beat-down you are ever likely to see outside the realm of Mortal Kombat.
The increased distance that you are able to reach as a result of your smashing efforts allows you to unlock various games in the ‘challenges’ section. These are effectively a collection of six mini-games that can be accessed from the main menu; these involve various activities based mainly around firing your geek into the air for varying purposes, including directing your geek into a selection of targets, smashing him through walls and keeping him gliding in the air for as long as is viable for your level of skill. Achieving certain distances and fulfilling a number of different requirements (distance, speed etc.) also rewards you with precious metals, (a kind of secondary currency within the game). Gold, Silver and Bronze can be brought to the blacksmith (located in the ‘forge’ section of the map) for manipulating into a selection of items and weapons whose quality is dependent on the metal which they are ‘forged’ from. The variety of weapons and items to be acquired in this manner is simply astounding, and keeps what would otherwise be repetitive format incredibly entertaining and fresh. After all, it is truly a game that is designed for the player interested in the long-haul experience, and the provision for weapons and items is one of the main facets of the game that injects variety into it.
Is that a Machete I See?
The distinguishing factor of Berzerk Ball 2 is undoubtedly its arsenal of weapons that form part of the festivities of the entire experience. Gained through exchanging bars of precious metal or through the colliding of your geek into ‘spider items’ during your journey, each weapon has a power rating that varies according to the metal it is forged from or at which stage in the game you collect them; its power is instrumental in the speed your geek will reach when travelling through the air. Each weapon also adds varying numbers of points to your skills/attributes when equipped. The weapons range from fairly conventional (if a little brutal) items like blood-stained machetes, lead pipes and swords to more progressive tools of facial disfigurement such as guitars, axes and grim-reaper scythes. Regardless of their physical appearance, the weapons serve their function as attainable items that can be won through perseverance with the game. In the same manner, lucky charm items are also available for purchase, forging and acquiring during the game; these items do not affect your power, but increase various selections of your stat points by differing amounts. These items range from lucky 8-balls to silver ankhs, two of which can be equipped at any one time in the same manner as the weapons.
Making progress in the game is as simple as click, launch and repeat, and you even get to experience a little change of scenery should you reach certain distances. The surroundings change to an icy wilderness after 40,000 and 200,000 undesignated units of distance will get you to Nuclear Apocalypse. I was saddened to learn that these changes of scenery aren’t backed up with changes to the gameplay physics, but considering the rich selection of weapons and items that are available, I feel this small flaw can be overlooked. Some of the challenge games can feel almost impossibly difficult as well, though I’m not sure they should be criticised for being too challenging. The main drawback which could potentially dishearten new players is the relatively large investment of time that is required before you start to unlock enough features to start making noticeable progress in the game. The sheer quantity of weapons and items as well as the constant supply of new features and functions makes it worth your while to persist in playing, however, and the fact you can customise your geek before you launch him into a world of distance-based pain, or pain-based distance, depending on your outlook on life.
I find it difficult to find any significant fault with Berzerk Ball 2: being given an abundance of weapons to smash a massively annoying geek across large distances is an idea that almost brings tears of joy to my eyes. As far as alternative anger-management treatments go, smashing a geek over ever-increasing distances with a choice of weapons which are in turn held by a choice of six characters is about as off-the-books as it gets. You won’t hear about this one from your GP, and even House would have an issue with its outrageousness, but give Berzerk Ball 2 a try, and you might just be able to save yourself a trip to the doctors.
Quantatively Speaking: 90/100
Berzerk Ball 2 is developed by Bored com Arcade.