Having started out as a joke prototype from an internal one-month game jam, Goat Simulator has been a major talking point amongst the PC community. Over a year on from its original release, the goat has arrived on pastures new, as it makes its debut on the Xbox One.
According to the game’s publisher, Double Eleven Limited, Goat Simulator is a “completely stupid title with in-game physics that bug out all the time”. The studio even encourages you to spend your money on something else, such as a hula hoop, a pile of bricks or a real-life goat.
In normal circumstances, you wouldn’t think twice about keeping your hard-earned cash firmly in your wallet yet, weirdly, it’s these over the top physics that make Goat Simulator incredibly likeable and charming. No kid-ding.
The main objective (a term that should be used very loosely) in Goat Simulator is to cause as much destruction as you possibly can, while in control of a goat. Points are awarded for destroying things in style, as players rack up combos and multipliers to increase their score. Think of it as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, except instead of being a skater, you’re a goat, and instead of doing tricks, you wreck stuff.
Built on the Unreal Engine 3 (the same engine that was used for Gears of War and Borderlands), the Xbox One version of Goat Simulator takes place across two areas: Goatville and Goat City Bay. Each one is an open sandbox area that is crammed with challenges, collectibles and secrets.
Scattered throughout both of these levels are numerous references to pop culture, which add to the humour and charm of the title. Such references include a cameo appearance from music producer Deadmau5, collectible Minecraft blocks and a fully playable Flappy Bird clone, among others.
In addition to racking up points, players are also tasked with in-game goals, such as getting hit by a car, propelling the goat skywards and running up the side of buildings. The reward for completing such goals is modifications for your goat known as mutators, which add to the sheer ridiculousness of Goat Simulator.
Activated through the start menu, mutators allow players to totally transform their goat with an array of abilities, from jetpacks to animal skins and space goats to the ability to summon goats from the sky. The vast majority of mutators can be stacked to heighten the chaos.
This anarchy is heightened even further with the unpredictable physics. Every single jump, head-butt and lick can lead to your goat spiralling out of control across the map. Not even the sky is the limit, as you can probably just bug your way through it. Other side effects include frequent frame rate drops and AI clipping through walls.
On the surface, Goat Simulator is an incredibly dysfunctional title, but that’s the beauty of it. The developer has purposely left the non-game crashing bugs in for sheer comical value; this was never intended to be a highly polished work of art, and it certainly wouldn’t have the same appeal if it did.
That’s not to say that Goat Simulator doesn’t come with its problems. The ridiculousness of the physics wears thin after a few hours of gameplay, as simple tasks quickly become vexatious. This proves particularly frustrating for gamers looking to complete the in-game goals and achievements.
Furthermore, any attempt at introducing structured setups in the world appear to crash and burn almost immediately. Both Goatville and Goat City Bay are littered with races, timed high score challenges and multiplayer objectives, though these are highly flawed to the point where their inclusion becomes extremely questionable.
Yes, you read that correctly. Goat Simulator contains support for up to four players in split-screen. It’s the same sort of mayhem as the single player, escalated to four times the madness. Unfortunately, the multiplayer doesn’t extend to Xbox Live, which comes as somewhat of a disappointment considering its inclusion in the PC release. Fingers crossed this is rectified in the future with downloadable content.