Review: A-Men 2
A-Men 2 came across my digital desk a couple of weeks ago, and I decided I’d give it a go. I hadn’t much prior knowledge of the game (or the franchise for that matter), but I had seen a couple of promos here and there. I expected something akin to The Lost Vikings, but instead was met with a rather different game. A-Men 2 is not much fun. To be fair, part of Bloober Team’s pitch is that it has made arguably the most difficult game on Vita. I’ve been meaning to jot down my thoughts on the differences between ‘frustration’ and ‘difficulty’ in video games, but for the sake of staying on task during this review, I’ll just mention that there is a difference, and that A-Men 2 doesn’t land on the better side of the two.
This puzzle platformer, it probably does not shock you to learn, is the sequel to A-Men. There are five characters in the game, each of whom has his own set of skills. Every level in the game puts you in control of a pre-selected lot of 1-5 of the characters. The idea of the game is to dispatch of a target number of enemies, then reach the helipad for a smooth getaway. You’re in control of one character at a time, and at any point you can survey the level in its entirety or switch to another A-Man. There’s a decent amount of looking around in A-Men 2, checking out enemy patrols, figuring out what objects can be interacted with, and more. In the more intricate levels, there are Saving Machines scattered about the level. I like the idea of setting your own checkpoints in a puzzle game like this. I found that in order to beat each level, a good deal of time had to first be spent surveying, planning, and mostly dying and reloading because a guard noticed your character while you were surveying. That alone wouldn’t necessarily kill the fun in a game, but there’s something else about A-Men 2 that made the fun drain from my being as I soldiered on.
Warning: Playthrough Preview may contain spoilers.
I can only remember 1 character’s name in the entire game. I know that they all start with A, and that part of the game’s charm is supposed to lie in that joke, but Aardvark is the only one who comes to mind. This is due in large part to the fact that almost every time you switch to Aardvark, he says, “Psst, it’s me, Aardvark.” Think Worms, only with humans breaking the fourth wall and calling the player a beaver. In truth, a Google search for “A-Men 2 Aardvark” comes up with information about the animal and some pictures of planes. My point here, if it’s too dense to discern, is that the brand is not memorable. The only reason I left the voice sound effects on was that it appeased the tiny masochist in me that enjoys being annoyed/annoying. The blandness of the game is the a major reason why it isn’t fun to play.
It took me a long time to figure this out. I was confounded at the fact that mechanically speaking the game is fairly solid. There were a few moments where I would get frustrated trying to climb a ledge or find a lever, but all in all it’s a decently put together game. The music (besides for the aforementioned verbal quips) is pretty pleasant, too; the main whistle theme is a catchy little tune! Each level offers a list of objectives to incite replayability, and the puzzling is competent. The game as a whole, though, just doesn’t amount to an enjoyable experience. While most of the missions can apparently be beaten in under three minutes, I often found myself slogging through a single level for upwards of a half hour as a result of constant trial-and-error. This is not because the game is especially difficult. I’m no stranger to difficulty in video games.
A-Men 2 is frustrating because even though the game looks decent, sounds good, and to an extent plays correctly, its inhabitants are dull and its style is uninspiring. I’m not a fan of being forced to use a specific set of A-Men for each level. I understand it from a design standpoint, but to be honest I would have rather played the entire game as one character (the pilot with the hook-shot, perhaps). The guards act as lemmings, patrolling until you cross their paths, at which point they chase after you to kill. You’ve got to pull levers and push buttons to ride elevators and trick the enemies into dying, then hitch a ride from your doobious chopper pilot. Sound fun?
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Saving machine
- Hook-shot pilot guy
What I Dislike:
- Dull character
- Frustrating puzzling
- Frustrating platforming