Unless you avoided the never-ending beta of PlayStation Home, which the vast majority of PlayStation 3 owners did, LOOT Entertainment may be an unfamiliar name. Although they worked on the PlayStation 4 version of The Last Tinker (you can read the review here), their first in-house developed title aims to return players to the days of 4-player split-screen multiplayer mayhem. Fluster Cluck, yes that is the real name of the game, is a multiplayer shooter that is truly obsessed with chicken (referred to as chikkin in-game).
Although there is both career and multiplayer options, the career mode will take you through each of the 10 maps and then promptly drop you back to the title screen. The actual game mechanics are explained in a somewhat humorous opening cinematic for the game, complete with an over-the-top narrator obsessed with chikkin. The game sorely needs tutorials once you reach the title screen, especially since you are able to skip the scene entirely. As a lowly Chikkin Koop employee, it is your mission to raise through the company ranks (level up), gaining new job titles and unlocking additional accessories, spaceships, weapons and more.
Naturally, you’ll be flying one of the handful of different stylized spaceships available, each with varying stats, although the differences are marginal at best. As with everything else in the game, you’ll unlock new ones, mostly with different paint jobs. While the character you choose doesn’t have any stats, you can compliment your ship by equipping an accessory. I used one that resembled a shapka that gave an additional point to my damage stat. If it actually did anything, I was able to tell, but kept it equipped just in case. Weapons aren’t ship specific, and feature different firing styles, such as a firing in a single fire or in a spread like manner.
In classic multiplayer fashion, you are pitted against three other characters in maps that contain open areas, narrow passages and multiple vertical levels, but are quite barren. The larger maps feature pipes that can teleport you another location, making traversing the maps easier, but also problematic. Due to the instant teleportation when you enter a pipe and the fact you bounce off of other players, you may bounce constantly into and out of the pipes if other players are in the vicinity or blocking the pipes. Attempting to gain as many points as possible, each map contains a converter, a place for you to bring an assortment of things to be converted into chikkin. Different themed environments contain a wide selection of innocent things to turn into delicious poultry, including cows, camels and zombies.
As you attempt to use your tractor beam to lug these objects across the uninspiring maps and turn them into chikkin, the other players will attempt to make the process more complicated by trying to destroy you at the same time. If you are destroyed, you will drop anything you are carrying, allowing other players to pick it up and get the points for themselves. For ultimate humiliation, your smoldering wreckage can be dropped into the converter for additional points. Special weapons can be picked up to give you a temporary edge over the other players by offering shields, a tracking missile, additional health and even turrets.
In order to stop players from camping the converter and trying to steal points from other players, the game will slowly label anyone a “camper” if they stay near the converter. Once labeled, the points you gain in the match will be significantly decreased. At the end of the time limit, the points are tallied up and the one with the most points wins. The points are also used to level up your character, so even if you know you are going to lose, it is important to keep fighting for every point, that is if Fluster Cluck keeps your interest for that long. At both level 20 and level 40, the more enjoyable “classes” are unlocked. Think of it as the 100cc and 150cc speeds from Mario Kart. Helping to provide a challenge even on the lowest class setting, the game’s difficulty ramps up tremendously when set to the highest setting, if you are forced to play alone. When I first unlocked Business Class at level 20, I was amazed at how much faster pace the game played.
Hoping to relive the glory age of split-screen multiplayer, Fluster Cluck needs to be played with friends. The multiplayer game modes, Deathmatch and Chikkin Hunt may be simplistic, but there are team versions of each one allowing for a 2v2 experience instead of free-for-all (FFA).
Regardless of game mode, Fluster Cluck is a shallow experience with barely enough there to keep you playing more than a single match. The music and sound effects repeat often, forcing me to turn the volume down after a dozen matches. LOOT has already stated they will be looking into Share Play for taking the local multiplayer online, so it is encouraging to see a studio support their product post launch.
Note: The Fluster Cluck review was written based on a digital PS4 version of the game.