Review: Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon
Ugly Americans is a TV show about a social worker and a couple of other humans who inhabit and attempt to reform a wide variety of different monsters in NYC. Backbone Entertainment and 345 Games brought the show to the video game medium, and, surprisingly, the world hasn’t ended because of it. Back when I learned of this game, I wasn’t excited for it in any capacity of the word ‘excited’. If anything I was curious of why it came to be and how awful it looked in its trailer. I’ve put a decent amount of time into Apocalypsegeddon and can truthfully report that it is not a bad game. Well, that depends on what definition of ‘bad’ you want to refer to. This is the point of the review where I’ll ask anybody who is unable to purchase the game without a guardian’s consent to leave. In layman’s terms, the rest of this review, much like the game itself, will not be safe for work or young children. Hide ya kids.
I have only caught parts of Ugly Americans on Comedy Central and what I watched didn’t thrill me. That means that some of the humor in the game was lost on me during my playthroughs. I found myself laughing quite a lot, actually, as did Brad. You see, the game is mission based, except instead of completing missions you complete case files. There are 11 case files total, including 3 boss fights. Anyways, back to the humor. The first case file is titled “Suck my balls”, and features man-birds who constantly heckle you as they charge you with their wangs flopping about below them. On one hand it’s a disturbing site that you wouldn’t want anyone in your house walking in on. On the other hand, though, I couldn’t help but laugh as the man-birds shouted, “cocklicker!”, “suck my balls”, and “gobble my knob” to name a few of the sound clips. Wait a second, did I forget to flesh out the gameplay details? Pardon me.
Apocalypsegeddon is a four-player twin-stick shooter. Instead of just shooting one stream of unidentifiable bullets, there are over 25 different projectiles that pop-up in the place of destructible in-game objects. They range from baseballs to a “mating bone”, which looks as ridiculous as it sounds. The projectiles have affinities to certain characters, so while the crystal ball is fine for Mark to use, only Leonard gets pierce damage when he wields it. The four playable characters are Mark, Callie, Leonard, and Grimes. I’m not too familiar with the show, but I quickly realized what role each character played. Mark’s an effeminate do-gooder, Callie is his evil demon girlfriend, Leonard is an old drunken wizard, and Grimes is a military type who’s obsessed with being hip. The characters’ utterances throughout the game are pretty funny. Grimes shouts things like “bring it on! Like the movie!” while Leonard lets out a “fuck yes” whenever his special attack recharges.
All of the demon/zombie/man-bird killing in Apocalypsegeddon will be yielding you experience points which can be used to upgrade different stats for your character at each level’s end. The different statistics include Strength, Vitality, Speed, Special Attack Recharge Rate, and more. The system works like Castle Crashers in the sense that each of the four characters starts at level zero but remains at whatever level you get him to by playing as him. After beating the game a couple of times, three of my characters are above level 25 and one is above 35. What’s nice about leveling up in the game is that even if you fail a mission you retain all of the experience points gained up to that point. The game is legitimately difficult, so it’s likely that you’ll die often. If anyone else on your team is still alive, he can revive you by pressing triangle near your downed character. When all characters are dead, you’re brought back to the level select screen.
In addition to the different projectiles, there are a few orphan demon babies to collect throughout the game. They’re basically passive buffs that you can equip at the beginning of each mission. It’s a good idea, but I found all of the babies in a very short amount of time, taking some of the fun out of this particular collectible. Come to think of it, the entire game is a bit short. Brad and I zoomed through all of the case files in a few hours. The boss fights are decent yet uninspired. There are a handful of cutscenes that play before certain missions. They’re funny, but they’re not fully animated. I bumped into a few people online who all said they wished Backbone had gone the extra mile to make the cutscenes look like the show. In a game that boasts the original writers, animators, and voice actors of the show it’s based upon, disjointed scenes felt out of place.
Apocalypsegeddon has mixed online and offline cooperative play, which means a friend and I can be on the same couch and connect with others on the PSN. The netcode is surprisingly smooth, but there’s one thing that bothered me quite a lot. You can host a game and hold slots for friends. Cool. You can easily invite friends from the in-game lobby. Nice. When one person joins your game, though, a 60 second timer starts counting down. When the timer hits zero the game starts and whoever didn’t press X to ready up gets kicked from the game. Brad, Chris, and I had a rough time trying to all get into a game before the timer blocked the game out of existence. The whole ordeal resembled a scene from Scooby-Doo, except it was decidedly less funny. Drop-in co-op would have been a nice work around the timer, but as it stands the timer is a real pain in the ass, one that is especially useless if you’re trying to get friends together to play the game.
Apocalypsegeddon does a lot of things right. It’s nice to see character progression in a twin-stick shooter. The projectiles system is also a nice bit of novelty. The affinities add a bit of direction to the pick-your-own-projectile system, which is surprisingly welcome. They could have done more with the orphan baby collectibles, the boss fights, and the cutscenes. If you’re at all a fan of the show (or the twin-stick shooter genre), it’s worth checking out. I had a good time during my multiple playthrough run with the game, but I doubt I’ll revisit it until DLC releases.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Character progression
- Graphic one-liners
- High level of difficulty
What I Dislike:
- Multiplayer timer
- Single player