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Apr 12 2014
By: Da_Almighty_Guy PlayStation MVP 18768 posts
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[REVIEW] Mercenary Kings

[ Edited ]
4 replies 276 views Edited Apr 12, 2014

Game Title: Mercenary Kings

Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up

Platform: PlayStation®4

ESRB Rating: M

Developer: Tribute Games

Publisher: Tribute Games

Release Date: April 1st, 2014

Review Author: Da_Almighty_Guy

 

Mercenary Kings is a game that attempts to rekindle that old idea of 2D sidescrolling games in a classic pixelated style. The game itself is rife with gunplay, tons of enemies, and highly enjoyable boss fights, as well as entertaining dialogue. However, while it does harken back to the days of old with skill-testing gameplay and a lower emphasis on overall story, Mercenary Kings seems like it can’t decide how long it truly wants to be and often fills the game with repetitive missions in areas you’ve explored dozens of times over. Does the game stand well, even with this glaring feature?

 

In Mercenary Kings, you play as either King or Empress, mercenaries that are on the hunt for Commander Byron Baron and his own personal army, CLAW. When initially going after him, the Kings are defeated and later brought back to life by the Mandrake Project, a scientific breakthrough that allows for the cloning and reproduction of any and all life forms. Back from the dead, the Kings set out for Mandragora Island in hopes of stopping Baron and ending the threat of a Mandrake outbreak.

 

Mercenary Kings is something of a hybrid of many game mechanics meshed into one game. Holding base at Camp Crown, you are given tasks that send you through many different areas to do a certain objective and, occasionally, extra secondary and secret objectives. As you progress through the game, you are able to customize your basic pistol into a weapon of your own creation. Because it allows for nearly any combination of parts and ammo types, the gun customization is absolutely breath-taking, although not to be taken lightly, as you must scavenge for materials and earn money before you are able to create and purchase these items. No matter how you want to play the game, the gun customization will follow you, allowing for almost limitless options ranging from assault rifles, shotguns, snipers, and even trombones and toilets.

 

These weapon customizations will come in handy as you progress through the game, as the enemies progressively become stronger and stronger, taking more damage before finally falling. If your gun can’t quite cut it, you also have the ability to equip two different items at a time in order to help you out in a jam. These items range from health kits, hand grenades, and even riot shields, so careful planning needs to be taken into account before going into a mission. Careful planning with items and gun parts can help lead you to victory against enemies you wouldn’t think would be possible on a weaker setup and less planning. To further increase your character strengths, you have bionic mods that will enhance some of your abilities, while also having a downside. Just like regular items, these mods must be thought about before going into a mission. You may not be able to take more raw damage even though you’re dealing higher raw gun damage.

 

This wide selection of customizable items is topped off with your own character color palettes and objects for your in-game tent. While not super extensive, you are able to adorn your tent with a banner, an ornament (which is displayed on top of the tent), and your own custom weapons on a gun rack. The more you play through the game, the more options you will be able to choose from, including some very odd character colors and several silly items for your tent.

 

So now that we’ve gone over much of home base, what is the gameplay like? On the surface, Mercenary Kings plays a bit like Metal Slug: you run through a 2D environment shooting up any enemy that gets in your way, while attempting to complete your current mission objective, which can include rescuing hostage, gathering a certain amount of a certain material, or defeating or capturing a boss. However, with the huge amount of weapon and item customization, which can be compared to a game such as Borderlands, depending on what you choose, the way you traverse these levels will vary, allowing for any and all playstyles to succeed and enjoy shooting up the enemies.

 

If you enjoy playing with friends, you’ll be thrilled to know that Mercenary Kings includes both 4 player online AND offline Co-op. You’ll be able to play with your friends and shoot up your foes all the while your friends help to enhance the experience. The 4 player offline Co-op is also a nod to the days of old, which Tribute Games seems to be going for with this title.

 

As for story, Mercenary Kings is not renowned for its narrative, but the most enjoyment of the story was found within codecs after you have completed a mission. While putting on a serious attitude, the words spoken by the characters, as well as their looped speaking animations, make for some humorous banter. The main story itself is not anything super special: you fight the CLAW troops in hopes of stopping Commander Byron Baron from unleashing his Mandrake army onto the world. You could say that this fairly simple story tries to emulate older games that also did not rely too heavily on story, which is the kind of feeling I believe the creators were trying to elicit from the player.

 

The main things that Mercenary Kings does right gameplay-wise are the art, the enemy variety, and the music. The pixelated style of the game is absolutely gorgeous and is a pleasure to look at. The enemies, although you will fight the same enemies over and over again, are well varied and all require some thought as to how you will approach them. The soundtrack to the game is absolutely phenomenal and I am personally guilty of listening to it while using my computer. Yeah, it’s that good. If there’s any artistic value you remember from this game, it’s the amazing soundtrack.

 

While Mercenary Kings does have many redeeming qualities, it does have its fair share of problems. The most noticeable thing that everyone will notice is the logic behind the respawning enemies. Enemies tend to respawn whenever their spawn area is outside of your camera view, which can prove very irritating and even frustrating for people wanting to backtrack. Speaking of backtracking, Mercenary Kings is full of it. Whether it’s going back through the level because you missed something along the way or playing a different mission on the exact same level, you will be going through the same environments many times, having to kill the same enemies time and time again, which will eventually begin to feel tedious and boring. Due to this, the diverse amount of enemies will begin to feel boring and old very quickly.

 

Much like the base enemies, the bosses too will begin to feel repetitive. As you continue playing through the game, you will notice that taking damage and walking through them while you are in your invincible frames can be a cheap, easy way to get to the boss’ weak point. To top this off, most bosses will change location if you take too long to defeat them. Once they move, you will need to find them in a different part of the level. However, even though they are off screen, they are still in action and have the chance to move even if you are not actively fighting them, effectively wasting your time as you simply try to get to where they are. Nevertheless, the bosses are a fun way to spice up the combat in-between the general enemies of the game. The repetition, I feel, hurts the game the most, as many people will probably quit before a large amount of progress is made.

 

The Good:

 

  • Beautiful art style
  • Fantastic music
  • Gameplay is fast, enjoyable, and encourages replay in order to master
  • Story takes a second role, but brings enjoyable conversations to make up for the lower amount of focus on story
  • Bosses and enemies are a joy to fight.
  • Customization is super varied and almost completely unrestricted, allowing for limitless possibilites.

 

The Bad:

 

  • Game can feel repetitive and tedious at times
  • Respawning enemies designed to challenge the player, yet comes off as an annoyance
  • Bosses move, causing unnecessary stress and frustration
  • Game starts off fairly slow. Made up for with a great pick-up in speed and fun near the middle and end

FINAL VERDICT: 8/10 - GREAT

 

Mercenary Kings is a game that harkens back to a time when games were simplistic and required extensive time, dedication, and repetition in order to master, and does so with a beautiful coat of paint in terms of art style and music that is a joy to listen to. While the repetition may feel way too overblown and unnecessary, along with some frustration along the way, the game is a pleasure to play and I believe that Tribute Games has done a great job with Mercenary Kings.

 

If you’re itching for a more retro-styled game, I cannot recommend this game more.

 

 

Mod Edit: Updated label. Please click here to learn more about labels. -Super_Nova2k13

 

 

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Welcoming Committee
Registered: 05/22/2013
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Re: [REVIEW] Mercenary Kings

Apr 12, 2014

Very nice review, DAG! Good job in explaining what's good about the game and what isn't so red hot about it. Looks like it wouldn't be one I'd pick up. Not a huge fan of respawning enemies and backtracking. A little bit of those two goes a long way. I look forward to seeing more of your reviews.

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PlayStation MVP
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Re: [REVIEW] Mercenary Kings

Apr 12, 2014

Box9Missingo wrote:

Very nice review, DAG! Good job in explaining what's good about the game and what isn't so red hot about it. Looks like it wouldn't be one I'd pick up. Not a huge fan of respawning enemies and backtracking. A little bit of those two goes a long way. I look forward to seeing more of your reviews.


 

Thanks a bunch! This is my first review of a game, simply because I enjoyed it so much and felt so compelled to actually reviewing it. :smileyhappy:

 

I can pretty much guarantee that if any games get me like this in the future that I may review them. This one was really to see how well I could review a game. :smileytongue:

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Re: [REVIEW] Mercenary Kings

Apr 12, 2014

Da_Almighty_Guy wrote:

Box9Missingo wrote:

Very nice review, DAG! Good job in explaining what's good about the game and what isn't so red hot about it. Looks like it wouldn't be one I'd pick up. Not a huge fan of respawning enemies and backtracking. A little bit of those two goes a long way. I look forward to seeing more of your reviews.


 

Thanks a bunch! This is my first review of a game, simply because I enjoyed it so much and felt so compelled to actually reviewing it. :smileyhappy:

 

I can pretty much guarantee that if any games get me like this in the future that I may review them. This one was really to see how well I could review a game. :smileytongue:


You're welcome! You're really good at it. Next time it might be cool to have some screen shots in the review (if possible) to help show some of the game play. Other than that, it was a good read.

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First Son
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Re: [REVIEW] Mercenary Kings

Apr 12, 2014

Could not agree more with this review. Everything was spot on and well written. 

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