Between some great rap songs and plenty of publicity for his love of marijuana, Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion (that's what he calls himself now), has left a little mark for himself in pop culture. Now he's looking to leave his mark in video games, just as he kind of did years ago appearing in a Def Jam fighting game for Xbox and PlayStation. But with Way of the Dogg, he plays it a bit more mellow, leaving the fisticuffs to the on-screen characters while players input commands as they appear, following along to his music.
It's a novel idea, and, let's be honest, Xbox Live Arcade isn't exactly brimming over with Elite Beat Agents clones. However, something gets lost in the execution along the way, and in the end, Dogg never really entertains like it should. Instead, it drags on like a really bad concert.
In the game, you don't play as Snoop, but rather America Jones, a guy who knows his way around a good street fight. In the beginning, you face off against an adversary while learning the ropes to the prompts that appear on the screen. However, just when you think the fight is yours, he turns the tables and levels you. To make matters worse, your girl Sierra is inexplicably killed, and now justice is on America's mind.
Enter the D-O-G-G, who's ready to teach you in the ways of kung fu and help you get your revenge. As you progress through the game, you'll face a bunch of stereotypical characters, from a cop that can't stay on the right side of the law to a master of martial arts who won't be denied a fine battle. It all seems to be like a set-up to a good Blaxploitation sort of game – only it never really becomes "good."
Part of the problem is the way the screen clutters with too much going on. Prompts appear all over the place, rather in a designated area, so too often they mesh with what's happening in the background. If this were a touchscreen game, that'd be okay, but it's not, and, as a result, you can sometimes miss whole segments.
Another problem is how some lines are strung together with commands. Some require you to tap a button continuously; others holding. And there are also situations where you have to combine button presses with directional pushes on your analog stick. Not only does it add further to the confusion, but it's not very fun. Worse yet, because the game has been plastered inexplicably with a Teen rating, a lot of the bad lyrics are bleeped out, which can further throw off your concentration. That's too bad, because the song choices in Way of the Dogg aren't bad at all. 505 Games probably should've gone Mature with it. Or, as Snoop would say, "Matizzle." (Just a guess.)
You can get through the campaign in a good couple of hours (not a very good replay value), even on the harder difficulty settings. Outside of that, all you have to turn to is a multiplayer mode, which is just single player-mode over again with multiple button commands. Honestly, you'd be better off playing a real fighting game.
The graphics do have some stylish touches here and there, but with the interface being a mess as it is, it's just hard to get into the game at all. At least the music's heart is in the right place, and Snoop sounds like, well, Snoop. Just chillin' and all.
The idea behind Way of the Dogg is novel, and in the hands of the right development team, it would've been as much of a trip as, say, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. But, as it stands, it's just something that's best left dropped. And not like it's hot.