Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon Review
By Ned Jordan
Ugly Americans the show, awesome. Ugly Americans the game, not so awesome. Now if you disagreed with me on that first point, you should stay away from this game. Far away. You won't understand the humor, the references, or just what the heck is going on. All you'll have is a twin-stick shooter that's a little south of average. On the other side of the coin, I still can't send you Ugly American fans running to download the game without laying a few caveats on you first. But let's start with the good news. The game's story is right in line with the series' humor and could easily form the basis for an episode. Further enhancing the Ugly Americans experience are the voiceover work in the cutscenes and the sound bites during gameplay, which are provided by the show's cast. So far, so good, but the series vibe is seriously hampered by the crummy cutscene animation. Even calling it "animation" is a stretch. It's like watching a poorly buffered online video over a slow connection or an episode off of a DVR on its last legs. A character's mouth will move once every fifty words or so, characters will only occasionally move and then only awkwardly – it's painful to watch.
When it's time for you to play, you'll have your choice of playing as Leonard, Mark, Callie, or Grimes. Sorry, no Randall. If all of that means nothing to you, reread the opening paragraph. Each has their own particular strengths and weakness in your typical categories such as speed and damage, and each has unique special attack with AOE damage. If you're a drunken wizard fan, sorry, Leonard shouldn't be chosen outside of co-op. He's underpowered compared to the other characters, which I suppose in some unintentional way is appropriate but that doesn't mean that you'd want to make a difficult game even more so.
Each of the game's levels proceeds like an arcade brawler. The screen locks in place and you're bound to the area until you defeat all of the local enemies. You're then free to move along until the screen locks again, and so on. The fighting is pure twin-stick shooting, but you can pick up a variety of oddball weapons such as baseballs, snow globes, propane tanks, and boomerangs, each of which has unique damage, rate of fire, and flight path. As you dispatch enemies you fill the meter that powers your special attack, which can be fired off with a quick tap of a bumper.
Enemies are all pulled from the series, so you'll fight birdmen and demons as you make your way through the game. The zombie level came across as odd to me since these zombies act like your typical lurching brain-chompers and nothing like the zombies in the TV series. Randall would be appalled. The enemies spout phrases taken from the show, but they'll drive you crazy by repeating the same couple of phrases continually throughout each level.
If you're intent on playing the game solo, you'll have your work cut out for you. Enemies can move off of the sides of the screen, but you can't, and they use this to their advantage to block you in. Playing solo you won't have anybody to help you out of the trap, and it's game over at one death which forces you to play any level that you failed all over again from the beginning. Not that the co-op game makes everything peachy – you'll have a greater chance of finishing the game, but sticking it out to the end is going to take some willpower too. You face different enemies in each level, but they're not that different when you get down to it, and in each level it can be a slog wading through hordes of cloned enemies.
This is a game that's best targeted to those who can't get enough of Ugly Americans and have three other friends who feel the same way. Otherwise there are plenty of twin-stick shooters available on XBLA that are a lot better games than this.
Final Rating: 55%. A rather ugly game for anyone but the rabid Ugly Americans fan.