December 22, 2011
Like its predecessors, Mass Mayhem 4 is a side-scrolling Flash game that encourages the player to cause great havoc, and that’s accomplished that by destroying anything in your path, including vehicles, bridges, buildings and even people. Mass Mayhem 4 has a take-no-prisoners approach to gaming.
That approach isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Companies like Rockstar Games have become legendary using a similar attitude on the Grand Theft Auto titles. The potential problem with Mass Mayhem 4, however, is that the avatar is essentially a terrorist. Causing havoc includes blowing up passenger planes, knocking down bridges during rush hour, turning malls into rubble and so forth.
If you can look beyond the insensitive subject matter, Mass Mayhem 4 is a lot of fun, and the versatility of this game has a lot to do with that. There are forty objectives overall, and each of those objectives allows you to achieve them in numerous ways. Mass Mayhem 4 lets you play it your way, a style that has nice synergy with the frenetic shoot-em-up gameplay.
At the start, players can define their avatar by choosing a head and body. Heads range from young to old, and include a wide range of races and accoutrements, such as hats, glasses, jewelry and so on. By changing the body, the player has a wide choice of outfits. By default, that outfit is a black suit, but the game offers an array of color combinations and clothing types.
Once that’s settled, the game begins with the player jumping from a low-flying military plane into a civilian area. The need to cause havoc is immediate, and the player will rack up points as he makes his way east toward the game’s first core objective: a tunnel system beneath the town.
What makes Mass Mayhem 4 fun is the diversity. Each of the forty objectives is different, and even by the end of the game, none of the levels feels like retreads. There is some graphics reuse, but this is a non-issue in light of the creativity of the level design.
Another important factor is weapon selection. The player starts the game with a bazooka and an inexplicably multi-use bomb strapped to the chest. As he progresses, he’ll acquire an assortment of bombs, mines, grenades, guns and handheld weapons. Each of these weapons feels quite different in use. Paired with any particular task and the result can be quite different.
Mass Mayhem 4 is one of the hottest games of December but not for everyone. Some might even call it tasteless. But thick-skinned gamers will want to give this game a go because good platformers are rare these days, and there’s not another quite like this one.