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Monday, September 5, 2011

Review: Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon (PSN/ XBLA)

Ugly Americans is a silly show that we in Australia have been largely protected from. The first I’d heard of it was when the PSN/ XBLA release, Ugly Americans Apocalypsegeddon, landed on the digital shelves.

In the interest of giving the game a fair go, I went and tracked down some episodes of the show, to better understand the comedy that it purports to have. It doesn’t really have any; it’s incessantly juvenile with shoddy animation, gross out moments that teenagers grow out of quickly enough and groan-worthy silly plots. The good news is, for the fans of that, then Apocalypsegeddon is going to go down a treat.

At core, it’s a dual stick shooter, with all the trappings that you come to expect from that genre in the modern era; there’s online multiplayer, there’s various upgrades for each of the unique characters in the game. Surprisingly enough, though this is clearly a low-budget cash in, the game actually works as a dual stick shooter. The controls are tight enough and it’s easy to go about your business as necessary.

It is of course very, very basic and repetitive. There are better examples of the genre on the download services (Dead Nation, for instance). Here, there’s only a handful of enemy types, and the variety between those enemies is pretty limited. Bosses are plentiful, but never require intelligence to beat. The game is difficult at times as a single player game only because it was built with multiplayer in mind.

And if there’s a group of Ugly American fans together playing this one, there’s fun to be had. Animation style resembles that of the cartoon, though the 3D game doesn’t always gel aesthetically with the flat characters that the cartoon is meant to feature. Environments are quite bland, but again they work – it’s easy to see where to go (left to right), where you can’t go, and where the enemies are. There’s no interaction with the environment, other than to shoot up the occasional mailbox for cash. It’s limited, but in being so unambitious, it’s also playable. That’s more than can be said about other licensed games on comedy shows – does anyone remember the South Park cart racing game, or the Family Guy game?

The humour, such that it is, is also present. In spades, in fact. Each of the characters has their own voice samples. It might even be amusing at first, but by the end of the first level, you’ve heard them all all too often and an option to turn these samples off would have been appreciated.

Perhaps digital downloads are the future of licensed games; those basic but functional, cheaply produced titles that only fans will find value in. Cut other the retailer, and you’ll be able to make the games even more cheaply, to the point where they’re entirely disposable.

There’s not a memorable thing about this game, but there’s nothing really broken about it either. I’m not a fan of this style of humour, but other people evidently are. They’ll probably get a kick out of this.

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Review: Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon (PSN/ XBLA)
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