As satisfying videogame experiences go, diving through the air and putting a bullet in the head of a moustachioed Mexican from a hundred meters away may not rank alongside finishing Gears of War on Insane, but it's still pretty rewarding. Pulling off the same sniper shot while flipping off a wall and wearing a hat shaped like chicken egg, however, is damn cool. What's more, moments like this happen all the time in Chili Con Carnage, both in the single-player game but more so in the multiplayer modes the game has to offer, as we realised when we took on all-comers around the IGN UK offices.
There are two multiplayer games to choose from: Hangman can be played by up to four people using a single PSP while Fiesta allows gun-toting gringos to scrap it out via wi-fi. Well, scrap it out probably isn't the best way to describe how the game plays, because neither multiplayer mode is a classic deathmatch. Instead players take turns to wrack up the highest score possible, by executing stylish kills and pulling off stupidly over-the-top moves.
In Fiesta mode, up to four players first choose their character from a hotchpotch bunch of scruffs, before selecting one of five areas - Rancho Vireillo, Peurto Indsutrial, Arena Del Tora, The Hacienda and the Jungle - to battle in. It's then a case of hitting the points limit before your opponent. However, while you all fight on the same level at the same time, it's not actually in the same arena - the number of bad guys you fight is the same but you never come face-to-face with the other players.
Here's where it gets interesting though. If you pull off a spectacular kill or a string of impressive shots, you send a load of enemies over to the other players' screens. On the flipside, if you're playing like a chump then your screen will get cluttered with death-dealing Mexicans. Executing a stylish kill really is important then, to boost your score and also make life for your opponents very hard.
As with the single-player game, the best way to earn big points is by stringing combos together. When you kill an enemy a time bar on the right fills, then starts emptying slowly as the game goes on. Pop a cap in another bad guy and the bar refills and your combo extends, and continues to do so if you keep on gunning down thugs and keep the meter filled with juice. Let it drain, however, and you lose your combo. Although it's by no means a disaster because the points you accumulated are banked, it means you've got to start building your bonus multiplyer from scratch once again, which is a right pain in the backside.
There's more to Chili Con Carnage's multiplayer than extravagant kills and fat combos too. The game is packed with power-ups and collectibles that can turn around the outcome of a game in an instant. Dropped by enemies after a classy kill, basic bonuses include weapon and combo steals, which bump up your arsenal or score depending on the one you pick up. Earthquake isn't quite as vicious as it sounds, causing everyone to fall flat on their backsides for a few seconds - meaning your combo meter drains because it's impossible to rattle off a shot. Enemy Confetti can be a combo-crippling power-up to use on your opponents if timed correctly, because it shreds all of the enemies in their arena so there's literally nothing to shoot at.
Dual Wield and Camera Twist are the two most potent pick-ups in the game, the first tooling you with a pair of pistols, shotguns, AK-47s - whatever you can lay your hands on - so you can make light work of anyone stupid enough to get in your way. Camera Twist flips the screen of your opponents, totally disorientating them for 10 seconds. And finally there's Rewind, which turns back time, meaning you can give death the slip if you're quick on your feet.
Power-ups don't play a big part in Hangman mode, which is a much more straightforward concept. Players take turns to notch up the highest score with the loser awarded a piece of gallows. When the hangman puzzle is complete it's game over.
Both multiplayer modes are pretty simple, which is true for Chili Con Carnage overall really. Senselessly killing Mexicans dressed as chickens is pretty shallow stuff, but there is something quite addictive about trying to pull off a more spectacular kill than your mate, especially if they're constantly raising the bar. Simple close-up kills soon make way for wall-climbing bulls-eyes, but even they're not a patch on multiple headshots while diving through the air - and wearing a giant sombrero, of course.
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