So after coming back from PAX East 2012, there was one game that truly stuck in my head that I had to get. That game was Awesomenauts by Ronimo Games . For those that may not be familiar with Ronimo Games, they also make my favorite WiiWare game Swords & Soldiers (highly recommended if you play local with friends). But back to the game at hand. Awesomenauts is available for Steam (PC), XBLA, and PSN. The game currently sells for $10. Now let's see what makes Awesomenauts tick.
For those that don't know what Awesomenauts is, it's a game from the MOBA genre. MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. The game is a 3v3 co-op, capture the enemy's base / protect your base from the enemy, all while purchasing upgrades for your character type of game. Currently there are 8 characters to choose from (with the promise of one more coming soon) and they range from a healer, to a stealth melee character, to a siege tank, to a stunner, and the list goes on and on. The one thing to note is that each character is very unique and has unique skills as well. You start off with three characters and once you level up your profile through playing the game, you can play as the rest of the characters and also unlock their more advanced power-ups. Despite what I read in other reviews, I would have to say personally that the initial three characters you start off with are more than capable than keeping up with the unlocked characters.
Now that you have a general overview of the game, let's get into some pros and cons of my 15 hours of Awesomenauts play-through.
- Pretty, cartoony 2D graphics
- PC version has support for the XBOX 360 controller
- Game is EXTREMELY addictive. The urge to continue to get better at one particular character is part of the draw. For instance, I am now an expert with Leon (the stealth character) but I haven't really ventured out and tried the rest of the characters. This is also a con as well (will explain later).
- Playing unlocks new power-ups for each character and new characters so you will continue to play for a while just to unlock everything
- This game really has that "one more game" draw and you will think you will quit after that game in progress, but something will happen such as you'll have a great round and want a rematch to pad your stats; you'll be on a bad team or have a bad game and want to get revenge; or you'll just be having such a fun time you won't be able to stop playing.
- Bots will fill-in when players leave the game and they actually have pretty intelligent AI
- Players can join a game in progress any time during the game and they will be provided more solar (in-game currency) to get upgrades so they are not behind the other players.
- You can customize your loadout after your profile reaches a certain level (fairly early on). Your loadout allows you to select three items from four categories before you join the game and allows you to customize which upgrades you will be able to purchase during that game. The loadout you select is automatically saved so if you choose that character for another round, the loadout will already be filled out, allowing you to join the game quickly, or make small adjustments.
- The characters are amazing. A monkey with a jet pack, a ghetto frog named Froggy G, a stealthy chameleon, a spacewoman on a snowboard, etc.
- Split-screen online play with friends on the same machine
- You will die A LOT in the first couple hours of playing the game. It's just the way it works. You join the game, not knowing which skills to purchase when, which loadout is good for what character, and just a general confusion of what strategy should be used. I know a lot of games are like this, but the game gets very frustrating very quickly because of this. There is a tutorial, but it doesn't go into enough depth to make you good enough to survive online. You can go into practice mode and play against bots, but who wants to do that? :) Also, your win % is tracked as well so you probably will start off at a 13% win percentage like I did.
- Since your win % is tracked you will more often than not want to choose your best character and not want to venture out to choose another character. As I said before you can practice offline but I personally never like to play against bots no matter how smart they are. I need the human interaction and also the human reactions to my attacks to properly practice.
- Limited matchmaking options. You can play split-screen on one machine or online with friends but you cannot pick your non-friend enemies in a game. Public game matchmaking also seems to be pretty random... not sure if there is any logic behind who you face, there doesn't seem to be any from what I have seen so far (although the match-ups haven't been that bad so maybe there is something I don't see).
- Your team will make or break you in this game. You need to 100% work together in order to win, and some people on your team might not be up for the challenge (or might be a little challenged as well if you know what I mean...). If you teammate dies, the enemy that kills you gets 60 solar and the rest of their team gets 30 solar. The term already is being thrown around in the game as we speak as we tell the players that die constantly to "stop feeding the enemy". If you have a player on your team that dies constantly, prepare yourself for a loss because the upgrades will be fast and plentiful for the other team. Surprisingly I haven't played with TONS of bad players yet, but there are still some out there that just don't generally know what they are doing (see con bullet one).
- Some characters need to be nerfed and some combos are just incredibly overpowered. I love Leon and he's an awesome character that I am really good at using, but I have a feeling he is a little too fast and powerful for his own good. Also, if you have a healer in your team with a Clunk and other big characters that have huge health bars, you MAY have a slight advantage. Nothing too broken yet, but some balancing will probably be needed as more people discover character strengths.
- Only a couple maps to play on and they are randomly selected. There are currently three maps to play on and even though they are enjoyable, there needs to be more than three for more variety.
- No cross platform play (minor con, but a con)
So I would have to say regardless of the learning curve and the early game frustration, Awesomenauts comes highly recommended by me. The game is well worth the $10 asking price if you are a fan of fun team-based co-op or just the MOBA genre in general. As long as the community remains plentiful, there will be plenty of matches to take part in and the highly addictive nature of the game will keep you coming back for "one more game".