Time to go bananas in My Friend Pedro – a super-stylish, quirky and unorthodox ode to films The Matrix and John Wick as well as OllieOllie and Sunset Overdrive. Oozing with inspiration like the gooey cheese as you slice into baked Camembert, My Friend Pedro is a bombastic and ostentatious treat that’ll easily impress while it lasts although it’s lacking in proper substance beneath the surface.
The impulsive pleasure you’ll find when you click R3 to slow down time and witness blood sploshes ripping out of enemy torsos never gets old. The frenetic and energetic beats of the gameplay and all of the bells and whistles you learn from the outset give you many tools with which you can pull off awesome manoeuvres and bamboozle your enemies with high-octane movie-like shiznit. Slowing down time to chain combos together is the kind of compulsion that you get when you eat chocolate, you just want to keep racking up kills and maximising your combo counts so you can be pleasantly graded at the end of a level. Nothing beats the madcap tempo of firing some introductory rounds into goon torso in slow-motion as you witness their guts puncturing and claret splatting uncontrollably out of them, then proceeding to jump up and grab the zip-line hook, riding along whilst spraying Uzi fire at surrounding enemies, then getting off to kick a grunt with a skateboard, then rolling it down a path to cause more ballistic mayhem all over the place, running over hapless unaware foes. My Friend Pedro is mayhem incarnate and is a blast when it’s in motion.
My Friend Pedro does a sound job of throwing new caveats at you in every level. You start out learning and acclimatising yourself to the game’s move set, but gradually the levels become more unpredictable with tougher enemies, meaner traps and a greater demand on your timing and reflexes become the norm. Later levels become particularly devilish as electrical booby traps will do their best to catch you out and you’ll go from fighting recently divorced nerds to recently divorced nerds clad in armour attire and besuited futuristic assassins armed with snipers.
Unfortunately what grows stale fairly quickly is the game’s sense of whimsy because besides the talking banana, there’s very little charisma to speak of because your character avatar is a blank slate who can pull off amazing acrobatic feats, twirling, zip-lining by hanging upside down and using environmental objects like skateboards as platforms to create bullet-riddling carnage, but he’s nothing more than a flavourless action man who is partially responsible for relieving some of the zip My Friend Pedro tries oh so desperately hard to convey to its audience. Like Sunset Overdrive five years before it, My Friend Pedro is slinky and is cool as can be, but the characterisation comes across as skin deep and that stops it from achieving higher heights.
The cut and dry story about some censorship mistress and a banana who encourages you to kill everything in your way – and this is why the sense of agency in My Friend Pedro is paper thin – you are goaded into doing the bidding of your potassium packed pal. Maybe it’s too trite and mean to expect a videogame featuring a banana puppet master to exude a rich narrative and characters you can relate to, but without some decent expositional backing, you may as well play My Friend Pedro while sporting a perfunctory pout. Doesn’t help that you play as an enigmatic and masked figure who looks like a fancy dress burglar than a badass – the moves don’t match the man making them which is unsurprising but quite disappointing.
Boss fights are highlights you won’t soon forget, including a level that sits your kiester on a motorcycle as swarms of henchmen come speeding along in their cars and motorbikes as they try valiantly to put a stop to your destructing hi-jinx. This particular boss battle is a delectable opportunity to wrack up a juicily inflatable combo and it feels awesome and empowering as heck to pull off. The final boss is the only let down because it’s basically an acrobatic duel with weapons and lacks the utter bonkers showcases prior to it.
There’s nothing spectacular or noteworthy about My Friend Pedro’s graphics. The best example of the game’s capabilities maybe glinted at by the dream-like levels in the later stages of the game – the colourful landscapes look vastly pleasing from the boxy room-to-room jaunts with their unflattering concrete and metal looks that compare favourably to the flatness of the game’s general visual identity. The audio is similarly low-key and unspectacular, the guns go blam-blam and the bleats of the banana talking to you give the game its comical charm, though the music jives nicely with the urbanistic and free-flowing vibes of the gameplay.
Like a popcorn popping Hollywood blockbuster, My Friend Pedro offers a bullet-bonanza ballet that’s hard to ignore thanks to its slick moves, combining a great sense of fast food action gameplay that escalates in challenge as you grow accustomed to the many flourishes it adds throughout. Regrettably the characterisation and story falls short, but in all likelihood these fundamentals won’t matter if you’re looking for an action-packed thrill ride, and boy does My Friend Pedro offer that in spades. If you demand something more in-depth or intricate you won’t find it here, but everyone else will find that My Friend Pedro scratches an impulsive itch that’s able to impress with its penchant for grace and unabashed style.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.