Final Exam Review: A D+ Effort

by David Sanchez November 27, 2013 @ 11:52 am

Final Exam - PS3 - Feature

Beat ’em ups have the potential to be ridiculously cathartic and entertaining or ludicrously dull and uninspired. Final Exam is clearly meant to be the former, but sadly, it leans toward the latter. The game comes equipped with all the right tools for success, but ultimately, it fails to utilize those tools in a meaningful manner. The end result is a 2D action game that’s best avoided, because there’s a wide array of much better offerings.

You select your character from a group of old high school pals who’ve returned to their scholarly stomping grounds only to find that the entire town’s been ravaged by monsters. You’ve got a powerful brawler, long distance expert, and balanced characters to choose from. It’s cool that each protagonist offers something different, and depending on your preferred play style, you’ll definitely notice what makes each character stand out.

Final Exam - PS3 - 1

Sadly, while the stars of this monster-filled quest stand out from one another, Final Exam doesn’t stand out from the pack of dull beat ’em ups out there. The combat relies on standard button mashing, and though you do have a few different special and regular moves, the bulk of what you’re doing the majority of the time is tapping away on the attack button. The game also lets you pick up guns to shoot bad guys, but this hardly makes up for the dull mechanics. In fact, firing weapons is pretty underwhelming, too.

You traverse stages and battle enemies while tackling multiple objectives along the way. These tasks are simple, and they basically move you from one point of the stage to another, all the while forcing you to take on lame enemies along the way. You’re literally running from left to right and right to left the entire time, reaching an area, hitting a switch, and then moving on to another similar objective. There’s simply nothing noteworthy or remarkable about Final Exam.

Final Exam - PS3 - 2

Boss characters will pop up along the way. These aren’t too challenging, though they do change things up a bit and require a different approach fr0m the regular grunt enemies. Overall, these encounters are easily some of the better parts of Final Exam, though that’s not exactly a tall order considering the rest of the game just isn’t all that interesting. Even then, other brawlers have delivered much better boss encounters.

Final Exam attempts to offer light RPG mechanics to offset its otherwise overly simplistic mechanics. Defeating enemies grants you experience that can eventually be used to level up different attributes. You can increase your character’s speed and combat abilities, and doing so actually does provide noticeable results. Still, this decent mechanic doesn’t exactly make the game any better due to the uninteresting nature of the core mechanics.

Final Exam - PS3 - 3

As is the norm in these types of games, Final Exam includes co-op multiplayer. This won’t exactly make the game any more fun to play. If anything, it’ll let you be bored while in the company of other players. That’s actually kind of sad, because most beat ’em ups are at their best when you’ve got other folks involved. That’s not the case here, and it all goes back to the basic design of this game.

Tired gameplay mechanics, obnoxious sound effects, and serviceable visuals make up Final Exam. In the end, there’s really no reason to spend money on this game. If you’re in need of a fun beat ’em up, I could list a myriad of better options. This game isn’t sinfully bad, but it is kind of bland. So you know what? If you really want to play a modern beat ’em up that’s a lot of fun, go check out Double Dragon Neon if you haven’t already. Final Exam is the type of game that’ll soon be forgotten. Hell, it probably already is.

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