2D domination for a modern age.
I'm a bit wary of online-only titles. What if I can't connect to the Webbernet? What if I have no friends? Why do I have so many concerns and why don't I just play the damn game already and stop typing the thoughts that enter my mind? Thank you, voice in my head, I'll download Awesomenauts and give it a shot!
In a flurry of claw-swipes and short-range gunshot wounds, Awesomenauts is the embodiment of a two-dimensional landscape with Fat Princess battlecries… minus the munchies. First, you choose one of the variety of characters, each with a specialty, and choose from a group of 20 power-ups to offer your fighter in the middle of battle (three can be chosen from each category, so only 12 are available during a match). With six fighters, it's surprising that each does feel genuinely unique, but they all stand on their own.
It's a cliché among games of this style, but it does appear to be a cartoon. As its primary focus is online play, the single-player "Practice" mode is easily beaten most every time it's played. I guess that works for a warm-up, and if you've downloaded the game, the assumption is you can play it online, but it's something to be wary of if you're like me and your connection is in jeopardy. The single-player practice mode is just that: practice. It offers very little challenge, so it's time to find some friends.
I would've liked more maps to play from the onset, even unlockable ones, but it's apparent that this is a title that upgrades over time. With the slim pickings of battlegrounds to start (only three or four by my count) it's easy to figure out attack strategies just from the first moments of being fired out of a rocket ship to the planet below. I can understand prepping a game like this for DLC, but really? It's a bit reminiscent of what gamers went through with Ridge Racer Vita, but thankfully not for a full-price retail product.
Thankfully, there's a ton of strategy with the characters already in the game. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, almost to the point of "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock" (but with one more, maybe Sylar from Heroes?). I would've liked some matchmaking since regular players might be intimidated to play much after a few rounds with some of the devout runners I've found, but it's a satisfying win if you can pull it out (especially when the hardcore bastards constantly taunt you after killing your sprite). Rub their nose in it—I sure as hell did!
While Awesomenauts is a basic game—attack and destroy—it's a great online-only brawler to share with friends. I do worry about when the shininess starts to tarnish, as they'll need to update this consistently to keep players playing, but it's a good start especially for only 800 MS points.