Awesome or Naut?! (Awesomenauts review)
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Awesomenauts is a purely multiplayer game based on the Defense of the Ancients (DotA) concept but implemented in 2D. Players are on one of two teams and are tasked with destroying the opponent’s base before they destroys yours.
In contrast to similar style games in 3D, Awesomenauts had to come up with a slightly different set of gameplay mechanics. In this case, ROMINO has introduced several things. First is all attacks are aimed with the analog stick. Second, since this is a 2D game, jumping and platforming can be brought into play creating multiple paths to the enemy’s base. MOBA has taken an extremely simple concept and run with it. Unfortunately, they’ve released a very limited game to this point, consisting of only a couple maps. Each one has their own distinct look but only minor variations in playability.
What Awesomenauts nails down to the T are its graphics. Maps are beautifully put together in a cartoon fashion. Each character has a unique personality, voice, and appearance as well as a different set of abilities that are customized to make unique builds. Before each match begins, players select their character and their load out, which consists of three abilities from each category (each of the three attacks and general character attributes) which will appear from the vending machine in-game allowing players to buy upgrades. These are purchased using the in game currency of Solars, accrued as they spawn on the map and from killing opponents. As you complete matches, you will earn experience points towards levels, each one unlocking additional abilities for different characters. Be warned about leaving a game part way through, no XP will be earned in this or the following match. Just a penalty for being a quitter!
The first time you play the game, players are introduced to all the basics in a tutorial. There, you’re given some back story into why you have to kill your opponent and destroy the other team’s solar collector. While they’re an entertaining set of cutscenes and combat tutorials, it’s a shame it’s the only time there’s any story to the game. In some ways it would have been better to have no story than teased at something that could have been amusing.
Combat is relatively straight forward in Awesomenauts; each character has three class-specific abilities but always starts off with the one basic attack. Attacks are targeted using the left analog stick, so as you run you can shoot up, down, straight or at an angle. While the control scheme is fluid, there’s no way to target diagonally while standing still. The other two abilities as well as upgrades are unlocked through the store/healing chamber in your team’s base. These can consist of super attacks or stealthing. It’s certainly useful to have an upgrade strategy planned out.
Since the game is entirely multiplayer, there’s been quite a bit of effort put in to make sure combat stays balanced. It’s very refreshing that this game doesn’t have to start off with the maximum number of players on each side; instead empty slots are filled with bots until the cap is reached. As players enter/leave a game, bots are swapped out with their real counter parts. In general the bots aren’t bad, but they don’t go out of their way to exploit the obvious routes. By this I mean that if all the upper level turrets have been destroyed, the bots won’t constantly be trying to attack through the gap in the enemy’s defense. Having the AI bots take random paths, rather than the path of least resistance, not only detracts from the realism but gives fully human teams a distinct advantage
For those not interested in online play, you’re in luck. Practice games are available which drops you into a game of all bots and even gives you the standard set of XP at the end of the match. Unfortunately, the bots’ difficulty setting is non-adjustable, which means those looking for a bit of a different challenge (or at least a different AI tactic) will find this game mode loses its appeal fairly fast. However, that just gives you incentive to invite a friend over and play split screen. Player 2 can join in on both local games as well as online, meaning you can team up or duke it out while trash talking the person on the couch next to you in all its surround sound, better-in-real-life glory.
Overall, Awesomenauts is an entertaining game but I think lacks a bit in its lasting appeal until it adds more maps or game types. Perhaps we’ll get lucky when the promised DLC is delivered. Sherrif Lonestar is looking forward to seeing you online… to pack your Solar Collector with a stick full of dynamite.
AwesomeNauts Receives a 3.75/5
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