Leafmure Alumni, you have been cordially invited to attend the alumni party of the century—but don’t forget your firearms and baseball bats. Final Exam takes us back to our class reunion, but there’s only one problem–monsters have invaded and are killing everything in sight–especially you.
Mighty Rocket Studios and Focus Home Interactive’s Final Exam is a 2.5D sidescroller with a heavy side of hack and slash. With a total of eight chapters to wreak havoc across, you’ll travel from the subway all the way to the high school to annihilate your enemies.
Final Exam gives you the option of going through the game through a series of difficulties; starting you off with three types of difficulties–Easy Peasy, Regular and Tough–with the option for an even harder difficulty after completing the game on Tough, called Rock Hard.
You’ll need to chose one of four characters to play as (or play as all four through various playthroughs), as you head back to school for your final exam. Pun intended, by the way. Each character has their own set of skills, statistics and weapons that they’re good at. Cassy–the fear-no-evil street dancer who’s the balanced one with an emphasis on hand-to-hand combat. Brutal Joe–the former star quarterback who is not only bulky and strong, but also has a knack for hand-to-hand combat. Sean–the bad boy who is an expert firearms specialist. And Nathan–the geeky tech junkie who is an ideal explosives expert.
Rank up your character with Character Points and Skill Points, giving you the ability to make your character a complete bad@$$ and being able to focus your power on things such as precision, life, strength and explosives.
There is a wide range of weapons you can use to attack your foes: everything from baseball bats to flamethrowers to firearms to chainsaw to cleavers and machetes, grenades and rocket launchers–all of which you will have to hunt down and locate within each chapter to unlock. Search high and low because some of these are fairly hard to find. You’ll also need to locate other hidden objects (ones that resemble soda cans) that are placed around each chapter (you’ll know them when you see them). They can easily be missed if you aren’t paying attention.
As for the monsters, expect to come across a few that will probably irritate you to no end. Some fly, some come at your with speed and some are just plan ruthless when it comes to attacking you. A few of these beasts that you will encounter are Kamikaze–a fast-paced monster that will run up on you and explode, sending acidic slime everywhere and damage you, if you are within its proximity. The Tank may be big and slow, but if you don’t have the proper timing down you may lose the majority of your health when this one gets a hold of you, so watch your back.
Along your journey, you’ll come across non-playable characters that you will need to help in order to progress further. Many of them will run and hide when a monster approaches them, so you’ll need to protect them as much as possible. Luckily, they stay out of the way and can’t be killed until they are no longer needed in the mission. They usually just cower away like a little school girl and stop what they are doing when they see a monster running towards them.
If you are one of those gamers who enjoys playing video games with the company of a friend, then you’ll be happy to know that Final Exam offers exactly that—both two-player local co-op and four-player online co-op is available. I personally felt that co-op is the best way to play Final Exam, as you can cover more ground in the chapter with multiple people.
My only complaint about co-op was if you have the same character as another player, it almost became harder to focus on which character is yours. Although, this isn’t really a huge complaint against the game, it was just one incident that I came across where I got extremely confused when there was a total of three of same character on the screen at once. If this happens to you (and it will), just focus on what you’re doing and you’ll be fine.
After completing the game, you’ll unlock Time Attack for an opportunity to rack up the highest score that you can possibly muster up in a seven-minute timeframe. What more do you want other than being able to bash a monster’s face in with a baseball bat or spill blood on the walls with a chainsaw or cleaver? And yes, there is plenty of blood to go around.
Now that I’ve given you a little backstory of what to expect out of Final Exam, it’s now time to talk to you about how I felt the game played.
For the most part, the game was fast-paced and decently entertaining and co-op was really fun (as it generally is in any game) but my biggest gripe about Final Exam had to be its repetitiveness. Unfortunately, in each chapter you will come across a lot of backtracking in order to accomplish your objective. From going over here to grab boards to help construct a ship or traveling over there to help rescue a little snot-nosed bratty kid who wants a triple dose of sugar-coated gumballs. I even felt that defeating the enemies using the same moves over and over was very repetitive, but all-in-all, Final Exam was still entertaining.
The artistic style and artwork behind the game was well done. The visuals gave me a feeling of the many old-school retro games that I grew up playing as a kid, with an updated look for the new breed of gamers that exist nowadays. I grew up on Pong on the Atari 2600 so its really great to see how far games have come over the past thirty years. But unfortunately, graphics don’t make a video game….
I’m not too sure how much replay value is in Final Exam; you might be able to play through the game a few times to try to collect all of the weapons, be a trophy hunter or an achievement junkie. You also might want to try to accomplish some of the challenges within the game, like getting gold rating in every chapter–it’s harder than you think. If you are one of those people that want to try to obtain a gold rating in each chapter, my suggestion to you might be to use as many combos as you can. The more combos you use and the more enemies you hit that are around, the bigger your score will be.
Overall, I enjoyed myself. It wasn’t the greatest game that I’ve ever played (and it didn’t leave me feeling “Ermergerd!!!) but I had an entertaining playthrough nonetheless. And isn’t that what video games are about—having fun? You’ll definitely have fun here–although how much of it you have is entirely up to you.