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Awesomenauts (Xbox Live Arcade) Review

Posted on May 20, 2012 AT 06:32pm

MOBA (Multi-player Online Battle Arena) games are few and far between these days, so when one is released, it brings in some attention. That’s the case with Awesomenauts, developed by Ronimo Games and released through dtp Publishing for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Taking frantic battles and mixing it with 90′s cartoon silliness, the game manages to be intense while still being playful.

Awesomenauts is a three-on-three battle royale, played mainly through online multi-player. Players can choose from one of six unique characters, each with their own specific skill sets. While it’s not difficult to get the grasp of each one, skill with each characters special abilities and attacks could be the difference between victory and defeat. Enjoy running into battle, taking on everyone? Try out Leon, the French chameleon, who will give you love, in exchange for your cheese and money (translated from his theme song). Like to heal and play a support role? Give Voltar (omniscient brain-in-a-jar) a whirl. There’s also the prototypical tank (Clunk), a dynamite throwing space-cowboy (Lonestar) a rapping frog (Froggy G), and even a monkey with a jetpack (Yuri).

These skills are key to winning the game, with three abilities of each main type available to players. More are available as level increases, but at the beginning of each match, everyone in the game starts off at level one, getting a new level every one hundred solar (the game’s currency). As solar accumulates, players can purchase upgrades, and improve their character, hoping to gain the advantage. Each match starts off even, with skill and strategy being the key to victory. This balance is done extremely well, and keeps things fresh with each new match.

Gameplay is very well done, with responsive controls and interesting abilities. The main objective is to destroy the opposing team’s base before they destroy yours. In your way are enemy drone, characters, and turrets that fill the arena, attempting to kill you. This is more of a challenge that it sounds like, with players stopping at nothing to take each other out. The only drawback to how the game works is movement speed, which is something that is very rarely touched upon. Without a movement speed upgrade, players move across a wide map at a pretty leisurely pace, with it taking nearly a minute to get from your base to any action, even if it’s only halfway across the map. While not a game-breaker, this could have easily been fixed, and can get frustrating after getting killed and wanting to get right back to the action.

The balance online is well done too, with matchmaking usually spreading the human/bot ratio out pretty evenly (when there are less than the six player maximum for a match, a bot replaces a human participant). While the bots aren’t the smartest, they do a good job. With the AI taking on the skill level of the average character, this dynamic isn’t crippling, like it would be in most games. It doesn’t help much, but  a disconnect and bot replacement won’t always spell doom for your team.

The graphics are terrific, taking an older style animation (such as from the early nineties cartoons) and integrating it seamlessly. The graphic style is actually pretty helpful in cramped battles, allowing for players to see what’s going on, even when things get chaotic. It also helps the flow of the game (and really shines during the hilarious intro).

The game, while not without flaws, is very well done. The gameplay is unique, entertaining, and allows for tremendous replay value, while the style of the game brings back an older style that works seamlessly with the game itself. Add that to balanced online matchmaking and battle systems, and you get a game that completely lives up to its title. Awesomenauts, in a word, is awesome. Recommended for anyone who enjoys online play, intense battles, and unique gameplay.

The Good: Fun, Intense Gameplay| Balanced Matchmaking and AI

The Bad: Occasional Server Disconnects

The Ugly: Long, Horizontal Maps Make Movement Speed Too Slow

Score: 8.3

Russ Pirozek, known as "Noobcrawler" to some, is a gamer and comic book fan who sometimes gets around to writing for DigitalNoob.com. He's also awesome. If someone looked up "awesome" in the dictionary, his picture wouldn't be there, but that's because he's too busy being awesome to pose for a photo.

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