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[Review] Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon

Ugly Americans is a game based on the Comedy Central show by the same name. It’s set on a bizarre world where demons and abominations far outnumber the human population, and everything from the Apocalypse to a giant ape with OCD can happen, all in a day’s work.

The game is very simple and straight forward: it’s a brawler with two-stick shooting mechanics, so as you kill man-birds (a half human, half pigeon thing), zombies, and some rocker demons, you’ll be making your way to the right side of the screen. Levels are packed with enemies and it’s not particularly difficult to get overrun by them if you’re not careful. Luckily every character has a special attack that will deal a great amount of damage to all enemies; you can do this every once in a while when the special bar is refilled.

Since this game works out as a shooter, you’re better off keeping your distance from everything else on the screen, because you don’t have a melee attack (and that basically means you’re screwed if something gets to close). You have a nice selection of weapons (more like projectiles) that have different properties like exploding or piercing, so you should plan accordingly before entering a level. I wish you could carry at least two at the same time, in order to safely manage all situations. You’ll also be able to carry babies around, each provide you with different bonuses.

You can play as one of the four main protagonists of the show, each one has a different special move, but play like all the others. As you kill things (this is a word you’ll see a lot in the game), you’re awarded with experience, and every so often, you’ll level up. You get one point to spend for every level, but you can only choose which attribute you want to raise after the level is done (by finishing it or dying).

In this modern day of leveling, where most games allow you to raise every stat as you see fit, there’s an interesting old school feeling to this game, because every character has different caps for each attribute. This means that while one of them might have a super strong attack and lots of health, his special bar refill time and movement speed will be extremely slow. It’s a feature that works well once you find out your preferred play style.

Since you’re part of the Department of Integration (something to do with all the different species living together), your missions are referred to as case files, however there are not that many. This is an extremely short game (easily finished in 2 or 3 hours) that should be played in short sessions, because it gets repetitive pretty fast. Levels aren’t particularly difficult (if you’re careful) but boss fights are a pain, it takes many tries with various strategies (alternatively you can grind a lot) in order to get past them. Every case has a hidden file that unlocks everything from more powerful weapons to videos.

Graphics are the same as you’ll see on TV, but animations are inexcusably terrible. For a game based on a TV show I’d expect great cut scenes (they show up in between missions to explain the story), but I was greatly disappointed. Mouths stay closed as the characters speak and body parts move just because it’s not supposed to be a static image. The original voice actors dub the game, but I honestly had a hard time getting past the obvious lack of dedication put into the animations to really pay attention to it.

On the comedy side, this is fortunately still funny at first, but the too often repeated one liners and the defecating man birds with overgrown penises get old fast. Cut scenes aren’t as funny as the original show, but they’ll suffice; reading all the information the game provides can also guarantee a laugh or two.

One thing this game does very well, better than most actually, is how it handles on-line co-op. It’s so simple, all games should be like this. If you’re connected to the PSN, as soon as you start your game, it automatically looks for other players, no need to go trough various menus or anything, simple as that. However, I couldn’t find a single game to get into, but it also has local co-op, which should be just as fun (possibly more).

In the end, Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon feels like a disposable game, not because it isn’t fun (it can be if you enjoy half hour sessions of gaming), but because of its poor design choices. This game could improve tremendously if only a little more effort had been put into it. I have really enjoyed the simplicity of the game, but simple does not mean the game should ignore obvious choices that would make it fifty times better and that’s the worst thing: when great potential falls too short.

[review pros=”Simple gameplay mechanics
Easy to navigate
Great online co-op system
Captures most of the essence of the show” ” cons=”Overly repetitive
One can only endure so much juvenile humor
Lack of polish
Way too easy to erase your saved file
Unbalanced boss fights” score=65]

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon provided by New 38th Floor Productions.