Posted by Nathan Michalik
Awesome or naut?
It's the year 3587, and two robot armies are in a galactic struggle for power. It’s up to the elite group of combatants known as the Awesomenauts to determine the fate of this cosmic clash.
Gameplay in Awesomenauts revolves around a series of three-on-three battles as each team attempts to break through the enemy's defences and destroy the opposing base. Along the way, players will encounter turrets, local wildlife and fierce opponents, and accumulate money by killing enemies and grabbing coins, letting you purchase upgrades for your Awesomenaut.
One of the main obstacles you'll encounter before reaching the enemy base is the turret. These target the closest opponent and deal massive amounts of damage, so to get past you'll need to hide behind smaller grunt enemies: once all the opposing turrets are destroyed, you’ll have a direct shot at the enemy’s base.
There's essentially only one game mode: a three on three battle. You can choose to play with up to three friends on a single console or with other players online, or any mix of the two. Private matches can be set up as well as an option to join a quick match to throw you directly into battle. Typically, battles last around five to ten minutes, but with two well-equipped and skilled teams it could last much logner. After each battle, you earn experience points that allow you to level up and unlock abilities, maps and characters.
Strictly as an online player versus player affair, success will require teamwork and strategy because an unorganized team is almost certain to lose to a team with even the most simple of plans. One of the potential pitfalls with the balance of Awesomenauts is that once one team starts to do slightly better it becomes extremely difficult for the losing team to come back. This becomes increasingly frustrating with team members who refuse to listen, or against much higher level rivals, though of course this is a problem with countless other online games too.
While the game supports an offline practice mode, playing with CPU characters is a nightmare: they often shoot at nothing or run in the completely wrong direction. You can call out commands, but more times than not, the NPC teammates will completely ignore those commands and ‘herp a derp’ around the map.
With six characters, there are plenty of different play styles to suit different gamers. Each character has their own strengths and weakness as well as two different skill sets you can select from. For example, Lonestar is one of the more long distance damage classes who can either select an offensive skill set or obtain the ability to throw dynamite or a defensive skill set and summon a giant bull to push players back.
The characters and their skills are well balanced; no single character will give a player a huge competitive advantage, vital to any game like this. While the characters unlocked at higher levels are stronger than the earlier characters, they still have weaknesses that can be exploited by a skilled opponent.
There are only three maps, each with its own style and layouts. They're well designed and offer enough variances so that they do not feel repetitive: the final map you can unlock offers a giant wind elevator to launch you to the top of the map quickly, for instance.
The graphics are bright, smooth and match the game’s theme well. With one of the best XMB theme songs among PSN titles, the in-game music is catchy and well made.
The simplistic combat paired with strategic gameplay offers a fantastic experience for those gamers who are either new to strategy games or just wish to play a quick game with a few of their friends. Even though frustrating at times, Awesomenauts is a great addition to the PSN’s strategic game line-up — as long as you keep the moronic NPCs off your team.