by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Game show craziness
I have always been amazed by some of the crazy game shows on TV – particularly those of the Japanese variety. It would seem that some people will do almost anything for a prize. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a game-show style of multiplayer game that has players controlling jellybean-like characters with arms and short legs – the titular Fall Guys - and guiding them through a series mini-games akin to courses in the TV show Wipeout, or for those older gamers amongst us, It’s a Knockout. Each competition begins with sixty competitors (all online) and during the course of the five rounds, players are gradually eliminated until one is crowned the champion. The colourful mini-games (there are 24 in all at this current stage) take the form of three different styles – Race, Survival and Team events.
The first mini-game is generally a Race event, requiring players to reach the end of the obstacle course before other competitors. The obstacle courses are quite varied, with Gate Crash having a series of doors that slide up and down, requiring some timing of your run to get through. Dizzy Heights has players jumping from one spinning platform to the next until they reach the finish line, whilst Hit Parade has players balancing on beams, moving through spinning doors, dodging giant swinging balls and then navigating a slime covered incline.
Survival mini-games are a heap of fun, and basically require gamers to not fall off platforms. Roll Out has competitors travelling along a giant cylindrical beam that has five sections spinning at various speeds, each with a range of hazards. Walls, gaps in the sections, and upright poles can cause you to fall off and be eliminated. Block party on the other hand, has players navigating through gaps in a set of walls and over jumps whilst on a reasonably narrow platform. Miss a jump, or get pushed too far by a wall, and you’ll be falling into the pink goo below. One survival mini-game is somewhat different to the rest though – Perfect Match. In it, players stand on a 4x4 tile set, each with a depiction of various fruit that become hidden moments before a picture of a fruit is flashed on a screen. Players must then scramble to the tile that had that fruit depicted underneath, in a game of memory.
The team events are interesting. Games include Egg Scramble, which has gamers collecting eggs for their team, Fall Ball that has players trying to score goals with a giant soccer ball akin to Rocket League, and Team Tail Tag, which has players running around trying to grab a tail off other competitors and be left standing with one as the time runs down. If you have a team that knows what they’re doing (and working as a team), you’re more than likely going to qualify. But the result can often be hard to swallow if you’ve been randomly selected in a poor team and are eliminated despite your best efforts.
But in the end, it will come down to Fall Mountain (or occasionally Hex-A-Gone or Royal Fumble) with around six to ten other competitors who are aiming to be crowned the champion. Often, it is a relief to actually make it to the final phase, but then there is a sense of angst as a competitor reaches and grabs the much sought-after crown moments before you attempt the leap. Each of the rounds are reasonably quick to play out, and if you do get eliminated, there is often a new game starting shortly after being taken back to the lobby.
Apart from the being crowned the champion and receiving the accolades that accompany it, performing well in the matches grants players with in game currency that can then be used to customise your Fall Guy. Different coloured uniforms, some with different patterns, as well as a range of zany costumes can be purchased. Pirates, chicken costumes and even rainbow Unicorns can be seen running through the courses. The colourful costumes are purely cosmetic though, and do not affect the gameplay at all.
The colourful nature of the crazy costumes matches the course design beautifully. Each course and mini-game is well designed, giving gamers of all skills a chance to qualify - even when you do start in the back row (although I found that the See-Saw course is so much easier if you’re in the front row). Fall Guys comes with simple controls that allow younger gamers to take part just as easily as experienced gamers. With just one button for jumping, one for diving and one for holding and grabbing, anyone can jump into a game with ease. And waddling through the inflatable-style courses, jumping over spinning bars and diving across the chequered finishing line is effortless and enjoyable.
Ultimate Knockout, Ultimate Fun
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is one of the most enjoyable online gaming experiences. With simple controls, heaps of fun, replayable mini-games and customisations (paid or won) that do not alter the gameplay, and a catchy background tune, Fall Guys has everything that causes addictive play. Indeed, even when you are eliminated, there is the immediate urge to hop back in and try your luck again. The only thing that lets Fall Guys down is the inability to play local matches against friends on your couch. The vibrant levels, with their inflatable-like obstacles and moving platforms wouldn’t be out of place on a TV game show. Indeed, I’m now looking forward to the Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout TV adaption, where players must don Fall Guy suits and compete in a similar series of wacky and enjoyable events. Until then, Fall Guys will be my multiplayer game of choice.
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Great level design, simple controls
No local multiplayer which would provide localised fun