Sometimes a game has a name that makes it hard to ignore. With a name like Super Mutant Alien Assault
that is definitely the case; although maybe a little over the top, it makes you pay attention. Sometimes, though, the game doesn't always live up to the name. At heart, what you'll be playing is an action based shooter, but with only 12 levels to play through, does the game manage to stay interesting and engaging?
Super Mutant Alien Assault It's hard to avoid a game with a name like that
sees you take control of a defence droid (there's a choice of four when you unlock them all). It's your job to save some humans that are travelling across space in cryosleep after a group of aliens suddenly appeared and attacked earth. In order to save these humans, you'll be travelling across the three ships that carry them, each with four levels. You're getting a pretty standard save the world kind of story for a game that doesn't really need it. Apart from moving between the ships in the levels, you'd be forgiven for forgetting the actual story behind what you're doing.
Each ship's four levels will consist of three normal levels and then a boss fight in the last one. Your basic job is to destroy all of the enemies in the area, but you usually have extra objectives on top of this. The most basic level objective is to simply survive, but you will also find yourself keeping your eye on pressure points to make sure that they don't explode, as well as the hyperdrive levels where you have to transport fuel between two tanks. You are introduced to each new level type with a short tutorial on what you'll need to be doing to complete the level; this helps with some of the more obscure levels, including one where you must roll a ball into a slot whilst avoiding the enemies. The mixture of level types makes the game more interesting and means that there's more variety to be found here.
Whilst each level looks similar, the procedurally generated layout is never quiet the same and some are a little easier to manouevre around than others. The levels are incredibly small, filling the screen and nothing else. The 2D pixelated style of the game is reminiscent of something like Metroid
, but this space theme only increases the simularity between the levels. With only 12 levels in total, the game is really short, fairly repetitive and is over rather quickly. For a game that is priced at £7.99, this isn't really unexpected but a few more levels would have been appreciated.
A simple level layout may make it harder to avoid enemies
The game maintains a fast pace throughout, both in levels themselves to even being able to jump straight into the first level with a "quick start" option on the main menu. Standing still means that you won't survive for very long, so the key here is to keep moving and to keep on top of the enemies. In order to do that, you'll need a weapon or two. When you first start the game you won't have a starting weapon, but as you progress you'll unlock starting weapons and special abilities to use. These certainly help you out, but a basic gun or knife with which to start would have been very helpful. When you've mastered the simple controls of moving and jumping, you'll want to be on the look out for the weapon, explosive and health dispenser machines that are scattered about.
The large amount of items here is one of the game's best points and you'll have plenty of fun learning which items are the best, but the cooldown on the dispensers and the fact you can only have one of each type of item at once stops you getting overpowered while still providing you with more than a challenge. There's a huge range of weapons, explosives and abilities here for you to pick up. They vary from everything to shotguns, sniper rifles, various types of grenades, rocket launchers, and much more. Your special abilities consist of things like a pulse belt to push things away from you, as well as dodge and double jump to give you the advantage. All of these items are unlocked by beating the game's levels; even after finishing the game for the first time, the motivation to carry on and unlock everything is still there. Once you unlock more weapons, you'll be able to pick starting items for yourself, as well as pick your robot character too.
Even the simpliest of enemies in this game can cause you problems, and the enemies get tougher the further that you get through the game. Every hit that you take will knock off half a heart from your health, and getting that lost health back isn't an easy feat with only one health dispenser showing up per ship. Get ready to come up against small bitey aliens and bigger charging enemies, as well as flying bugs that will drop poisonous goo onto the level floor. The boss enemies all pose their own tougher challenge with a much bigger health bar to fight down, all whilst constantly moving about the level and trying to kill you. Some levels seem deceptively harder than others, too. While you may breeze through a few consecutive levels, you might then come up against a level that feels like hitting a brick wall. This difficulty spike seems to pop up randomly and may see you getting frustrated and be tempted to put the game down. You'll face a challenge, but despite this, with three different difficulties you should find one that suits you.
Which such small levels, it's easy to get overwhelmed with enemies
To lessen the frustration slightly, there's the option of local co-op for a friend to help you through. This definitely increases the fun factor and gives you more chance of surviving, but you feel that not including an online multiplayer mode is a missed opportunity. An endless mode is also on offer for the players who still haven't found enough of a challenge in the normal play, but it is essentially just more of the same. The overall gameplay is simple, fun and easy to jump into, but it tends to get tiring a little too quickly. The upbeat music definitely adds to the game, but there's not much here to keep you playing for hours on end.
The game's achievement list is fairly deceptive too. With only 17 achievements, you'd think the completion would be fairly easy but this isn't necessarily the case. You're offered achievements for beating the three bosses at the end of each of the groups of levels. Things get tougher when you have to beat all of the levels in a row without dying, on each of the different difficulty levels. This must be done on your own as well as in the co-operative mode. Finally, there's a few miscellaneous achievements, which include killing 6 enemies with one sniper rifle shot, as well as using the special pulse belt ability in order to throw a cooking grenade. Unfortunately, one of the achievements seems to be a little glitchy at the time of this review and seems to be unobtainable.
While there is fun to be had here, Super Mutant Alien Assault
quickly gets repetitive because of the short levels and the fact that you only have 12 levels to complete. The choice of difficulty offers a challenge for those who want it, but the game is easy enough to jump into and play for those that simply want to shoot aliens. Unfortunately, a lack of online multiplayer feels like a missed opportunity and random difficulty spikes means that the game gets frustrating. If you are looking for a simple and fun shooter to keep you entertained for a couple of hours then you might find some fun here. Apart from that, there's nothing here to make the game stand out that much, so don't feel too bad if you give it a miss.
- Large choice of weapons, explosives and abilities
- Simple level design
- Short amount of levels means it gets repetitive quite quickly
- Lack of online multiplayer
- Strange difficulty spikes in some levels
The reviewer spent approximately 5 hours slaughtering aliens and getting slaughtered a lot herself, unlocking 7 of the game's 17 achievements. A download code for Xbox One was provided for the purpose of this review.