Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon Xbox Live Arcade Review
Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon is a overhead 3D top down horizontal shooter in the same vain such as other Xbox Live Arcade titles like Ghostbusters Sanctum of Slime, Wolf of the Battlefield Commando 3, and Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team. It is based on Comedy Central's Ugly Americans animated series, which is known for its distinctive animation style, bizarre humor, and unusual premise. Ugly Americans is set in a universe where humans, demons, monsters and myths have co-existed and lived amongst each other for several decades. But much like immigrants to a new county these monsters don't always gel with human society or culture. It's New York City's department of integration's job to make sure these new citizens don't break any human laws or taboos. The main characters in the show are Mark Lilly a naive caring social worker, Lenard Powers a lazy wizard and co worker of Mark, Callie Maggotbone Mark's demon supervisor and girlfriend, and Lieutenant Grimes, a gung ho former street cop who now busts monsters that fail to fit into normal society. All of these characters are also playable in the game. As far as overhead shooters go, Ugly Americans isn't particularly great, but fans of the genre or show might enjoy it.
Although there are nearly 10 minutes of cut scenes in Ugly Americans there isn't really that much story to speak of, most of it being jokes and hijinx between the characters. I feel that reveling what little story there is would give away the main plot twist, so I'll only summarize the basic premise. The discovery of another Maggotbone heir, once again hastens the arrival of the Apocalypse. The coming Apocalypse seems to rile up the already unruly menagerie of citizens of the melting pot of New York City, with zombies, demons and Man birds terrorizing the streets. It up to the Department of Integration to put a end to this madness, which is where the Marc and his friends come in to save the day. There are few characters missing from the game you might expect to see, such as Randall, Marks ne'er-do-well zombie roommate, or any members of Marks support group, with the exception of Doug the koala man who appears in the game over screen, and at the initial start up screen in the PlayStation 3 version. Some of the quips in the game are really funny, even laugh out loud funny, but like most comedy are less funny upon repeat viewings. Still I would say that Ugly Americans is the funniest game I've played a long time.
In the game you play as one of four characters, Mark Leonard Calley and Grimes. Each of them have different base stats and strong suits. Marc for instance has more health, Calley speed, Grimes strength, and Leonard's special attack does the most damage. While playing the game killing enemies will help you gain experience points and you can use experience points to upgrade one of your character stats such as damage, health, speed, special attack and chance of getting a critical hit. This mild RPG element reminds me a bit of Castle Crashers. Also affecting your stats are the weapons you pick up. In the game every character has a launcher gun, that can fire various projectiles and objects such as lamps, baseballs, knifes, dumbbells, hammers or rubber chickens. Using different weapons will affect your character stats positively or negatively. In addition to this certain characters have favored weapons that dramatically boost their stats usually balancing out an initial weakness. There seems to be about 3 to 4 unique weapons per level in the game with the exception of the boss stages. Further altering your stats, you can also adopt monster babies that are carried on your characters back which will grant you additional abilities such as reflecting damage or doing more damage when you are near death. All of this sounds well and good but the problem is that the game doesn't open up and let you use most of these abilities until after level 5, which is initially is the hardest level in the game. Most of the time when you reach level 5 you'll probably be about level 12 or 15 in experience stats but in order to beat it you'll have to be at least level 30 or 40 or have a very smart and helpful co-op partners. This is because you simply cannot do enough damage and kill enemies fast enough to survive by yourself. Ironically this level is the one included in the demo and by level 6 you'll have access to much better weapons, that meatloaf I've much easier to complete. There are about 12 levels in the game, three of which consisting solely of boss fights. Besides the aforementioned difficulty hump at level 5, the game could probably be beaten in three hours, making it pretty short. Most levels consist of walking a few feet down the street and then fighting a large mob of man birds, demons or zombies. This leads me to another problem with the game, the lack of enemy variety. Sure there are different colored zombies, demons, or man birds but they all have the same attacks and yes some take more hits than others to kill, but they are all still essentially the same. Occasionally you'll run into a large demon punk or a demon with a ax but it doesn't help break the monotony much. The television series has a countless number of enemies and monsters on it , and it's a shame that werewolves, vampires, robots and other such creatures don't make an appearance, it seems like a missed opportunity. Also repetitive is a lack of level variety. It seems like there's actually only about four levels in the game, the park, the city, hell's city, the rich area of hell. The city stage for instance is played multiple times the only difference being the enemy patterns and the lighting. Gameplay itself is fun but repetitive due to the aforementioned flaws. The game does offer a decent amount of replay value due to its both offline and online four player co-op and the ability to replay the game with a new character starting off at level 1, although still retain whatever items can be collected during or prior to play through. I didn't notice any lag or slow down when playing online and it seems like the netcode was fairly stable. Although I've yet to play four player online game as it's currently very hard to find someone else on in the game. It will be nice again offered drop in-drop out co-op so that you wouldn't have to leave the match to search for more players.
Character models in the game are cel shaded and generally aren't too detailed. Levels themselves are sparsely decorated with only a few statues, or plants along the path. Most of the time it seems like the game could run on the original Xbox, albeit at a lower resolution of course. This isn't to say that the game doesn't look good, it's just not impressive. Cut scenes in the game use actual animation from the show giving it the authentic of an episode. Oddly however have much less frames of animation than found in the TV show, and it is especially noticeable when a character attempts to walk across the screen with only two or three frames animation. Most of time there is no attempt at lip-synch. I'm not sure who decided to do that but it seems pretty cheap and lazy to me.
The left analog stick moves your character, the right analog stick aims and shoots your currently selected weapon. The R trigger activates your screen clearing super attack, assuming it's charged, and pressing RB allows you to pick up a new weapon. The controls are basic and simple and I don't think it can be improved that much.
Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon is a competent overhead shooter that I found to be quite enjoyable. However the repetitive nature of gameplay and steep learning curve I feel could turn off most players. Fans of the show and overhead shooter connoisseur's might find the game to be a 7 out of 10, such as myself. But most people will probably only play the game once or twice and find it to be a 6/10.