Lollipop Chainsaw PS3 review: a few cheers for an undead hacker lagging behind the leaders

Lollipop Chainsaw PS3 review

I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. Well, there were moments during my playthrough of Lollipop Chainsaw when I was angry – sometimes at the imprecise combat, more often at the pointlessly crude dialogue – but mostly this just feels like an opportunity badly missed.

When Suda51 says he’s making a game about a zombie-slaying, chainsaw-wielding cheerleader who leaps around with her boyfriend’s severed head attached to her miniskirt, it’s time to get excited. Sadly, the excitement only lasts until you first take control of your scantily clad heroine, at which point you immediately realise that this is no Bayonetta-beater.

Third-person combat adventure games are a frightening bunch to try to take on. As well as the hair-wearing witch, there’s Kratos and his epic-scale struggles, Castlevania’s depth and pacing, not to mention a returning Dante who looks reinvigorated by his youth.

It’s a genre where quality levels are sky-high – and the core combat mechanics so refined – that any flaws shine bright like a 1,000-watt bulb in Buffalo Bill’s well. Like watching rice pudding slide down a windowpane, Lollipop Chainsaw is a bit slow and a bit sticky. There’s a slight but noticeable delay between your inputs and the action on-screen – a disconnect that kills that all-important sense of fluidity.

Your move set also makes it difficult to target the enemy you want to attack, making crowd control (several sections feature a more powerful enemy accompanied by underlings) and taking on high-score challenges problematic. Main character Juliet’s range of attacks is a particular bugbear, because it’s an issue that slowly gets alleviated during the course of the game.

She has nothing more than quick pom-pom strikes using square, chainsaw swipes using triangle, and low attacks mapped to X, but until you buy upgrades there’s precious little opportunity for chaining these into meaningful combos. Once you’ve unlocked a wider range of offensive options (bought at shops using coins awarded for zombie kills) things do improve slightly, but why do I have to play for five hours in order for the basic mechanics to get to where they should be from the start?