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For: PS Vita   Also on: Android, Xperia Play

The end of the world as we know it

Product: Panic! | Developer: Thumbs Up | Developer: Green Hill | Publisher: Ripstone | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Action, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Panic! PS Vita, thumbnail 1
When life on Earth comes to an end we hope it happens quickly, and not under a flood of sickly, suffocating slime. That's the unappealing scenario predicted by Panic!, a PS Mobile release from Thumbs Up Games.

In Panic, you have to avoid this messy end by saving innocent bystanders from the relentless onslaught of the alien ooze.

Holding your PS Vita (or other PS Mobile-compatible device) vertically, you have to divert the path of the slime by collapsing buildings, blocking off potential routes, and channelling the green gunk away from vulnerable humans.

Slime ball

Panic is played entirely using the touchscreen. Buildings can be demolished with a single tap, and the resultant rubble can be removed with a second touch.

To block off routes through each level you can cause structures to fall in one of four directions by swiping with your finger. Other commands - such as telling all survivors to leg it away from the oncoming ooze or selecting a bomb to drop from the skies - are mapped to on-screen buttons.

Success in Panic! comes when the slime reaches the city limits at the bottom of the screen. Depending on how many people you saved and how much damage you inflicted on the landscape, you'll be given a star rating - with one star being the worst and three being the best.

It's certainly a straightforward concept, but sadly Panic!'s execution is as sloppy as the slime it showcases.

For starters, the touch controls are horrendously inaccurate. Swipes are mistaken for taps and taps mistaken for swipes, making the process of terraforming the landscape a hit-and-miss affair.

This problem is exacerbated by the need for split-second decisions - the slime moves at such fast pace that you need to react incredibly quickly.

Secret of the ooze

Another issue is the overall performance of the game's graphics engine. While Panic! isn't ugly by any means, it's hardly the most visually advanced title we've seen on PS Mobile so far. Even so, it struggles to maintain a smooth frame-rate and this issue becomes worse on some of the later levels, where there's a lot of on-screen activity.

At the core of Panic there's a very neat concept, but the final product is just too rough around the edges to allow that idea to truly shine.

It's great to see PS Mobile games offering smartphone-style experiences for PS Vita fans, but they need to be of a better standard than this to tempt people away from their copies of Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush.
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 12 December 2012
Panic offers up a decent enough setting, but its inconsistent touch screen interface and jerky visuals prevent it from living up to its promise
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