"War, huh!, what is it good for?"
Well for one it's been the inspiration for some great games in recent years, whether you support Medal of Honor or the Call of Duty franchise. It's also given us, despite it's subject matter, several examples of tongue in cheek action.
A-Men 2 is obviously, the sequel to the original game, that gives us that 'Worms' like feel to the proceedings. However the enemy doesn't exchange shots with you, there's no turn based battles here. Instead you'll have to exercise the grey cells as you figure out the right way to eliminate enemies and get to the extraction point.
On a side note, this game is now available as a package that means that the original Army Men game is now riding shot gun. Playing the original game may not be a bad idea, either to refresh your memory of the first game, or teach you how to play the second, as there is no real tutorial for it; it kind of assumes that you are playing Army Men 2 because you have played and enjoyed A-Men 1. There are question mark icons on the map that give you hints as to what to do and what you can do.
Each squad comes with different types of soldiers, from the spy, who can disguise himself, the engineer who is needed to build ladders and bridges to enable men to get to different levels of the map, and the rifleman whose sharpshooting skills come in handy to blow up explosive barrels, break ropes that drop rocks onto bridges and the troops crossing them, etc.
There are other troop types on offer here but we won't give away everything, heck no. You know what I am going to say here, go and find out what other units are on offer for yourselves!
You'll start by working in pairs, for instance the opening mission has a spy coupled with a rifleman, the next level, a spy with an engineer, and as the game progresses these pairs are mixed and matched. And you'll need to maximize the potential of each individual unit as they work to get past the enemies and get to that extraction point.
Now we get down to the nitty gritty as we say.
This game requires thought, go in all gun ho and you'll find yourself failing, and having to go through a level more than once.
Perseverance is key to success. This game will either drive you on to try and get through to the next level or have you tearing your hair out in frustration. It's comedic, yes, with each character having a unique perspective on the job they have to do and on life in general, but it doesn't distract you from the fact that this game will try your patience.
Even with experience of A-Men 1 there is a fairly steep learning curve here, so be patient young Jedi.
It puts me in mind in some ways of another title I have still to review, The Bridge, in the fact that this is perhaps not the game for the casual puzzle gamer, because casual puzzle games such as (and yes I know it's not quite the same thing) Bejeweled 2 you can dip in and out of, no to get through each level requires an almost Sherlock Holmes style intuition and wits to get through.
Take time to study the level, and work out what goes where and how to interact with it, and if you get the timing right (and timing is so crucial) you can get from point A to point B and get out of the battlefield courtesy of the helicopter that collects you at the completion of each level.
The presentation style is colourful, without having to worry about textures, shading etc. The music, although not ground breaking, is more than adequate and the voice acting is up to the job although there is nothing worth a games BAFTA here (and that's not an insult, just a fact).
Controls are responsive, and respond well to button pushes and the back screen can aid you in zooming in and out of the map, which as said is worth doing so you can get an overview of the map you are facing. There is no competitive multiplayer here, it's just you against the game, and that's a meaty enough challenge in it's own right.
So is this game worth your time, let alone worth your money?
If you want a challenge, then yes it is.
If you want to tackle tough puzzles and exercise the braincells, then yes it is.
However, if you don't like frustration then no, it isn't.
If you don't want to face the prospect of having to try the same level over and over, then no it isn't.
All in all it's a Marmite game, some will love it, some will tolerate it, and others may well just hate it. Fans of the original A-Men will probably be all over it, and this is, I feel where it's firmly aimed at marketing wise... and that probably has influenced their decision to now bundle it with the original A-Men.
I admit I had not heard of either game until the review code, but would I have been tempted to buy this on the off chance?
Possibly if I thought I was getting another 'Worms' type game, otherwise no, I don't think so.
It's not a horrible or terrible game, it is from my viewpoint, entertaining in it's own right but does not have that, "Come on, have another go!" factor that has me reaching for the Vita to try and get through to the next stage.
Others may disagree with me, but I liked it, but the frustration factor, learning curve and the fact it just assumes that you have played A-Men 1 before trying A-Men 2 just gave me the impression that I had been dropped right into the middle of proceedings rather than at the start.
This strikes me as a bit of a bad move, an actual tutorial may well have been of use here.
I cannot fault it's tongue in cheek humour, it's presentation, but it's lack of intuitive game play (especially in later levels) left me feeling more frustrated than entertained, and that's a shame because underneath the shell there's a very good game fighting to get out.
It doesn't quite make it, and so what I feel we have here, is an OK game, but not one that succeeds in grabbing your attention and makes you want to keep on going until the end in just a few sessions. It's one of those games that I finished playing and thought some days later, heck I must get on with that, unlike other games where the time seems to fly by and you have finished it whether you wanted to or not that quickly. I also feel that for me, it lacks that "I want to play through again" because I am sure I could have scored better on that level factor. Once played through, I don't feel an urge to pick it up and retry it.
That's a shame in some ways. All in all it's an OK game.