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Awesomenauts Review (Xbox360 XBLA/PS3 PSN)
Awesomenauts is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game looking to carve a spot for itself in the MOBA genre. The game flaunts a quirky 2D 1980’s-cartoon-inspired art-style and straightforward, objective-based online multiplayer action. Playing out almost exclusively online, apart from the initial tutorial, players are pitted against each other in a colourful 2D environment with one objective: “destroy the other team’s drill-core.”
You’re thrust into the tutorial as Sheriff Lonestar, a space cowboy and part of the mercenary group known as Awesomenauts who are employed by an unknown alien corporation to ensure that the mining of Solar, a valuable and scarce material in the galaxy, goes ahead uninterrupted. On the opposing team you’ll find three other mercenaries with the exact same orders, and it’s a battle to make it to the other team’s drill-core and destroy it before they destroy yours.
That’s about as much story as you’ll be getting from Awesomenauts. It thrives in its simplistic nature, offering straight-forward battle versus friends or enemies.
During this battle you and your friends will be helped by a steady stream of helper robots, emanating from a small door near your drill-core. Regardless of danger they’ll keep pushing forward towards the enemies’ turrets, raising their powerful shields when they get close so you can take out the massive, screen-size death guns from cover. You’ll be thanking these little buggers more often than not because without them, the turrets are a force to be reckoned with.
Once you’re through the tutorial the “Xbox Live Battle” option opens up, which is essentially where the entire game plays out. You’re up against other people, trying to destroy their drill-core with a choice of six eccentric characters from the Awesomenauts line-up. Sheriff Lonestar from the tutorial, a reengineered creation of the semi-intelligent cow people of the Bovinion system; Froggy G, a wisecracking frog hailing from the ghetto marshes of Ribbit IV; ex-Soviet space-chimp Yuri, who was accidentally swallowed by a wormhole during a routine mission and ended up super-smart, to name only a few of the wonderfully bizarre characters, each with their own distinctive special abilities to suit your chosen play-style.
Each character starts off with a basic attack and the ability to unlock special attacks with collected Solar currency. Solar drops from fallen enemies and robots but is also scattered around the battlefield for the player to pick up. Each character has two special attacks to unlock, ranging from holographic bulls that rush opponents, to spinning water attacks; each attack is specially designed for that specific character. This is a good thing, but it also means that the higher level unlockable characters can be a bit overpowered compared to a starting character, i.e. Sheriff Lonestar versus Yuri the crazed ex-Soviet jetpack monkey with an absurdly powerful death ray.
It’s all about balance in the end, and while that balance does exist to an extent, you’ll sometimes find yourself dead in the proverbial water if you go out on your own. Awesomenauts is a game that rewards sticking together and, if your team happens to have one, hugging your healer like a mad man. Going one on one with another player can often mean certain death at low levels.
Strangely enough, Awesomenauts almost didn’t see the light of day, with its publisher, DTP Entertainment, filing for insolvency mere days before the stated release. What this means for the continued support of this multiplayer-based game is as of yet unknown, and should be taken into account by would-be players. There’s currently no word from the Awesomenauts developer, Romino Games, as to whether or not the publisher’s financial troubles will affect current plans to keep the gaming experience fresh and updated.
The publisher’s money woes aside, Awesomenauts is a very fun 2D side-scrolling game that does a good job of capturing the essence of the more well-established MOBA games and distils it into an easy to pick-up-and-play package. If you enjoy battling friends online or with up to four players in splitscreen in a quirky galaxy far far away for complete domination of their natural resources, Awesomenauts may well be right up your.. what’s the space equivalent of alley?Awesomenauts Review (Xbox360 XBLA/PS3 PSN),