Under the Skin
Aliens, you'd think, would prefer to take over the world in a flashy, action packed fashion. If aliens invade, then buildings will fall, heroes will arise, and in our final hour of impending doom, we will somehow find a weakness in our opposition that will bring about mankind's salvation - truly showing that the human spirit conquers all, even crazy alien invaders.
Surely Hollywood's portrayal of alien invasion isn't misleading?
This is not to be, however, according to Under the Skin. Instead, aliens will stoop down to petty mischief making on the level of Mouse Trap, enlisting items such as hula-hoops and gigantic bowling balls to achieve world domination. Unfortunately, if this is our second option for how mankind's doom will come about, than maybe we should just leave it to the bloodthirsty aliens. It'd be far more entertaining, at least.
Under the Skin, if anything, relies on its charm to woo over the player. Good thing, then, that it has enough charm to go around a few times. Cel-shaded visuals complement the quirky and cartoonish nature of the game perfectly, and the off-kilter art style, likewise, adds a lot of personality to the game.
Unfortunately, all the charm in the world can't make up for Under the Skin's overly simplistic gameplay. In each level, your task is to collect coins by stealing other people' bodies and inflicting mayhem upon the human population through wacky and wild alien technology... Well, it's not all that wild and/or wacky. In all actuality, it's kinda mundane and disinteresting. You have over 40 objects to cause chaos with, but they're all pretty straightforward devices that don't allow for much strategy. If someone's chasing you, lay down tacks or a hula-hoop. In high traffic areas, unleash your bigger weapons like an exploding firecracker or, if you're feeling extra naughty, a foul smelling fart. That's about all the creative strategy you need. From there, it's just a game of dodging the hostile humans and finding other people to body snatch from.
Really, the main problem with Under the Skin is that the fun factor wears off after a couple hours. There's just not much depth to the game that'll keep you glued to your TV. Well, that and by the time the fun factor wears off, the game is over. You see, Under the Skin can technically be beaten in less than an hour. On my first play though, my timer came in at 63 minutes, and I assure you I'm not an omnipotent gamer. Granted, there are a few fun multiplayer modes and you can always keep playing the story mode to unlock new characters and multiplayer stages, but even then, there's not all that much substance. Plus, on the higher difficulty levels, the game can be sickeningly cheap, where one small misstep can cost you the entire game.
Under the Skin, for all its charm, just isn't engaging enough for the $40 price of admission. It's a decent rental or bargain bin buy, but not much more than that.