Welcome to another tag team review from the 2O2P writing staff! “Veteran” writer Jay (Anotherdae) downloaded this title for the PS3. Joined by Jaycee (LOKI619), a longstanding contributor from the 2O2P forums, who played this title on the Xbox 360. The game at hand is Awesomenauts, which dropped on May 1st by developer Digital Entertainment Pool.
Welcome to Awesomenauts
Awesomenauts is a new downloadable title available on XBox Live Arcade and Playstation Store. It is the future, you are a mercenary for hire, now go and destroy!
Sounds like a good pitch, right? Awesomenauts sports some fun graphics and 2D game play, a throwback to a simpler time. The concept is simple, red factions of mercs battle blue factions in a multiplayer beat’em up. As a mercenary hired by one of the factions you must do what it takes to protect your base and infiltrate the enemy's.
I’m buying the pitch so far... It has a lot of the ingredients of a fun game. The game is set in the future, it has robots, there is some degree of gun/weapon customization, each character has unique abilities and there are elements of tower defense built in. You mine a liquid metal called Solar that is used to buy better weapons, abilities, etc., and, although it offers 2 v 2 combat, it goes a step further by offering 3 v 3 player action! It’s like a ménage à trois but in a video game. What could go wrong?
The opening scene instantly brings you back to your childhood when you would watch Saturday morning cartoons. At first glance, the characters seem likeable - almost like deadlier versions of Yosemite Sam and Marvin the Martian. Unlike Yosemite Sam or Marvin the Martian however, they don’t grow on you as quickly. You may have to play this game a couple of times before you find a character you like. This is where the game starts to lose you.
Agreed, the variety is good, with an array of character types from your heavy hitters, shooters and up-close-and-personal knife experts. Each of which is customizable during a match. Leveling up is slow going, and you start each match in your weakest state. Your first few matches are strictly for learning purposes. Understanding all the upgrades takes time and the other online players strike you down hard. The problems begin with the character choices. The more powerful characters are harder to unlock. It’s so unbalanced you can easily find yourself out manned and out gunned in no time.
Leveling up is indeed a bit of a pain. Somewhere in the world, some poor soul is about to throw his controller through his TV as his little level 1 character is killed over and over and over again. Be prepared to spend a lot of time respawning when you first fire this game up.
Did we mention the music? The rock anthem that plays when you fire up the game, “Awesome, Awesome, AwesomeNAUTS”, really tests your patience. You need to be either very young or a few sheets to the wind to get into it.
No!!! Not the grating music!!! I’d rather watch the Voice over and over again then have to put up with this game’s music. I learned to appreciate the mute button on my Xbox TV remote. It’s like listening to 8-bit in HD. It doesn’t work.
Conducting a match
Gameplay is reminiscent of some other PSN titles such as Crash Commando, Fat Princess and even Shank. Awesomenauts borrows a little from each of these titles and throws it into a match without any hope of survival. The game category is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA); think, Super Smash Brothers with a larger game map. The goal for your team is to take out the enemy’s base before they destroy yours. Taking out tower defense cannons isn’t a matter of proper game play but rather, repetition.
Repetition. Yes. This game is about repetition. The only other Xbox Live Arcade game that I played that tested my patience like this is Battlefield 1943. Lather, rinse, spawn, die, respawn, repeat.
At least in Battlefield 1943 as your skills get better your matches tend to get better. With Awesomenauts experience doesn’t count for much, if at all. Best to workout your thumbs because this is a button masher. Having a good multiplayer team is a necessity as you need to gang up on enemies and defense towers in order to achieve anything. Multiplayer can be 3 couch co-op/split-screen with a total of 6 players online. There is some strategy involved in leveling up. Do you need a stronger weapon or would more health better suit your cause?
This isn’t a game of skill. Repetition, as Anotherdae mentioned, is what this game is about. It helps you level up. This is the kind of game that you pull up on your mobile phone or tablet and play five to ten minutes of in between meetings. A game that if you play enough of in small increments, you may eventually get to the point where you might have some fun with it. Had this been a mobile app and if it cost $0.99, I could totally see myself enjoying it. It isn’t a game that you would grind on your console.
Get some friends
Multiplayer is a great addition to this game as it has no campaign mode. There are only so many times when you can play “practice mode” until you grow tired of this game. At the end of the day though, this game is best enjoyed with a group of friends, a lot of beer, and some great, non-game related stories or jokes to share. The fellowship of having a few friends around makes the grind to level up enjoyable.
It is a good game for some casual couch co-op with some buddies. Throw a few back and battle for the lower rung of the leaderboard (You’re not going to get very high on the leaderboard, let’s face it). I don’t think many will pick this game back up after a night or two. Awesomenauts feels like an incomplete concept; like someone created a tower defense game then changed their mind last minute. The unbalanced play is the most unforgiving part that, if modified, would make the game more enjoyable.
I’m not sure about the title being Awesomenauts. Perhaps if the title of the game were Awesomenauts with Friends I’d agree because, as a stand alone game, it does feel incomplete. Throw some friends in multiplayer and a little bit of time leveling up and this game is on! For hardcore gamers though, it may leave you wanting more.
And a bigger gun! For the record, this is getting a “Skip” label as per the 2O2P review scores. While its price tag ($9.99) and cute-but-deadly characters are attractive, the game doesn’t hold the attention it should for a console game. There is some fun to be had but I just can’t recommend it. We should mention, Awesomenauts is part of the PS Plus offering for the month of May.
Welcome to the team LOKI619!
Thanks Anotherdae! I had fun writing this review. Perhaps if we had played this game together on the same platform, it would have been more fun. I would say this is a “SKIP” as well. Even with friends, this game will not hold your attention very long. If it comes out on your mobile device for $0.99 though, game on!