What do a space cowboy, a giant worm, and Totalbiscuit have in common? They’re all part of the AWESOMENAUTS!
Who are the Awesomenauts, and why are they assembling? Well, Awesomenauts is a fantastic little lane based side-scrolling shooter that involves destroying your opponents turrets as you battle your way through to try and destroy their drill core. Seems simple, right?
Well, this game is exactly that and there is nothing to complicate matters as that is the only mode in place. That isn’t however a horrible thing. What Awesomenauts Assemble does is simple, but it does it well. The maps are what define the modifiers to the match, having a mini boss that will give you a bonus of solar, some environmental threats, or a nice redesign of turret placement that will change your gameplay strategy.
Each map has that special modifier, and that might lead to you wanting to pick a different character. One has giant thrusters, so you might want to pick a quick character so you don’t get converted into crispy bacon. Some might favor more heavy hitters so you can quickly push into the enemy’s territory and win the match.
The unfortunate part to this is it isn’t a big enough change. This is more of a neutral point above all else. The maps don’t favor specific characters that would force people to play only a select group, which is a good thing. However, it makes each map seem a little monotonous and feel like each map is made from the same cut of cloth. Nothing is drastic, and you can probably squeak through anything without too much difficulty.
Does the map selection make up for the lack of game modes? Not really, because there aren’t a huge number of maps either. There was definitely a moment of fatigue playing through and just wishing for something different. I wished there was maybe a game mode like Capture-the-Flag or just something special that wasn’t the same ‘destroy the core’ style gameplay.
My final issue is with the amount of DLC. There are a few characters locked behind the DLC payment options, but thankfully the majority are unlocked through filling the experience bar. That bar will fill up multiple times for a single match, which will lead to a tremendous amount of content being opened before you get to the content. There are also announcers that you can purchase, but you really won’t notice the announcers and it would be up to you to purchase the cosmetic side of things.
Now, those are the only downsides of this game. So what are the upsides? Well, the characters that you can unlock are fantastic and have their own little quips that don’t get on your nerves, for they aren’t thrown out like most games do. The characters are voiced by wonderful actors that fit each character, and the game really feels like it’s balanced for gameplay, and not for some rush to the final character that we find many games doing for overall game progression.
Another great thing about Awesomenauts are the upgrades for the characters. These can really turn the tide of battle, allowing you to get high damage, high speed, or even a life-steal that will give you an extra edge over the competition. The upgrades are unlocked by leveling up your overall level, and will allow the earlier characters to reach their full upgrades before any of the later characters. You then have to purchase the upgrades from the in-match shop using Solar. This is the currency gained from killing creeps and heroes, and can also be picked up from respawning pickups.
The balance here is that you can only select three of the five upgrades per move, making each choice one of strategy. Do you go for the support run? Do you try to tank it? Do a little bit of both? That’s all up to you, and you get the opportunity to play to your strengths and buff your weaknesses.
Each Awesomenaut has a simple attack and two special attacks that fit to each character’s style. Some are heavy hitting attacks with massive cool-downs, while others are quick and do very little damage. The regular attack will be ranged or melee, depending on what the character is focused around.
Now, each character has a different style of jump, some allowing flight or hovering, while others are one offs. This is what counts as the special attributes of each character. It isn’t an unbalancing effect, and it really does make you decide if you’re going to be the quick, agile player, or the tank that slowly crushes the opposition.
In the end, Awesomenauts is a fantastic game. There isn’t much to say about it, for the game is shallow, but the shallowness has been fully exploited and polished to a point of admiration. The game could use more content, just to spice it up a tad, but what is there now is a fantastic game to enjoy with, or without the company of your friends. There’s a variety of strategies that you can embrace, or your can blaze the trail and place your play-style above all else.