You can’t dismiss Blood & Bacon Fatfree as just another wave shooter on Xbox Live Indie Games — OK, maybe you can. But whereas you shoot human zombies in many XBLIG wave shooters, you shoot pig zombies in B&B Fatfree.
You start by selecting one of two default characters, a black guy or a white guy. If you’re one of those Social Justice Warriors, you can leave your pitchforks at home — the black guy doesn’t run faster or jump higher than the white guy. Their differences only appear to be skin deep. I have admittedly had more success while using the white guy, but I don’t know if that says anything about me or the game.
Between every wave, you get your weapons and talk to a farmer, who hangs from the wall of a barn via pitchfork impalement (he’s missing a leg, too). I’ve gotta hand it to the guy(s) who wrote and performed the farmer’s lines: wondering what the farmer will say next is often my only motivation to complete a wave. With the farmer, B&B Fatfree captures that feeling you get when you watch a shitty horror movie with your (hopefully not sober) friends.
B&B Fatfree is definitely more smart-assed than smart. The first thing I hate about B&B Fatfree is something I’ve hated in the Grand Theft Auto series: the “I’m getting tired” running mechanics. As in most Grand Theft Auto games (I’m told V corrected this nonsense), you can only run for so long in B&B Fatfree before your character slows down from fatigue. This abomination of a mechanic is done for two reasons: (1) to give an illusion of realism, even though I can run for a longer distance than any of these fictional sons of bitches; and (2) to annoy you. To make things worse, B&B Fatfree requires you to run frequently from charging zombie hogs, so if you’re low on health, surrounded, and fatigued, not even raw firepower will save you. The game also follows that dumbass trend of pushing the right analog stick down in order to run. For the love of God, can we put an end to this madness? Holding analog sticks down as if they’re buttons is stupid, especially since a proper run button works and feels better in everything from Super Mario Bros. to Arkham Asylum. Anyway, I’ve found the best way to conserve your character’s stamina in B&B Fatfree is to click the right analog sporadically so that you move in nervous bursts of energy like a fucking squirrel. A dodge button could’ve nicely balanced out the god-awful running mechanics, but developer BigCorporation might’ve bungled that idea, too. (A video game character should get dizzy and fall down after a couple of dodges, right?)
Another problem in B&B Fatfree involves perspective. If you’re in the default first-person mode, enemies will ram you from behind and push you across the stage. Oh sure, you might not see a thing in front of you and check your back and spot a charging hog, but as soon as you kill that one, another one is probably going to be IN YOUR ASS. These bastards come out of nowhere. Unsurprisingly, you’ll see them disappear near the tree line and run through buildings. The option to switch to a 3-D third-person or top-down perspective might help a little with these Houdini hogs, but you might as well stick with the default first-person setting. Your aiming in the third-person perspectives is not as good, and a well-placed shot can mean the difference between a mindless moonwalk of shooting and an instant kill.
Like Dead Pixels, B&B Fatfree does a good job of diversifying its zombie hordes. You have regular zombie hogs, midget zombie hogs, big zombie hogs, skeleton zombie hogs, armored zombie hogs, and more. The most infamous variation is the giant pig boss that pukes and shits on you. This boss is a lot more fun (?) than it looks and sounds, as the fight requires virtually no strategy and punishes you for not being able to run more than a few yards at a time. The game can also be quite redundant in how it utilizes its creatures. For example, I’m more than halfway through the game and have encountered multiple waves where the goal is to kill 15-25 midget zombie hogs, even after new types of zombie hogs have been introduced.
B&B Fatfree tries to break up the redundancy with inconsistent success. Even though you face wave after wave in a single setting, the game incorporates strategic elements like a meat grinder that feeds on blood (not as useful as it sounds, though the machine can also give you extra ammo and such), an electric fence that fries enemies, and a water pump that heals you. B&B Fatfree is far behind other wave shooters in terms of weapons, but this limitation is partly made up with items that make you fast/agile or turn you into a dangerous melee freak.
The game also has different rules for certain waves. My favorite is what the game calls Revenge Day, which pits you against a huge number of enemies and gives you one-hit kills. If the entire game were as fun as the Revenge Day waves, B&B Fatfree would be gaming bliss. In contrast, the game is at its absolute worst when you have to fight a wave in pitch-black darkness, with only a small flashlight to let you see. It’s almost like BigCorporation couldn’t figure out a better way to make the game challenging, so throwing in darkness stages seemed like the right way to go. Not being able to see worth a damn and not being able to run worth a damn are indeed a deadly combination.
I didn’t have much fun playing this game solo or cooperatively. But what really annoys me is that the game tries to force coop if you’re online. That is, you don’t get to select single player or multiplayer at the start screen. You get to start the game and hope some random asshole doesn’t drop in on your game. Although the game does allow you to kick players out of your game and make the game “private,” why should I have to access an in-game menu to do this? I’m old-fashioned: give me a single-player/multiplayer option at the start screen. Simple. And while you’re at it, don’t make me press the select button to bring up a restart level/settings/etc. menu after I die. Why not automatically bring up a menu after the player dies? So the player can press the reload button and watch his or her corpse reload the gun for a chuckle. “Fatfree” obviously doesn’t mean “no bullshit.”
B&B Fatfree might be worth $1 for a few laughs, but it’s laughable that B&B Fatfree and the slightly more expensive ($3) Blood & Bacon are among the highest rated games on XBLIG. (As far as I know, the only difference between B&B Fatfree and B&B is that the former has about half the levels of the latter.) B&B Fatfree might be better than the abysmal Dawn of the Fred, but it’s less fun than Zombie Estate, which isn’t that great anyway. B&B might be the “bloodiest game on Xbox Live” as it gloats on the title screen, but we’ve all seen blood in games, haven’t we?