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March 5, 2018

Mercenary Kings Reloaded Is All Flash And No Bang

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Written by: Scott Beaulieu
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Sometimes, a video game can come across like an old girlfriend; extremely pretty but wears on you quickly. The same can be said for Tribute Game’s release of Mercenary Kings Reloaded. Released in 2014, the original Mercenary Kings was far from a polished project. Tribute Games decided to go back to the drawing board and put out a newer version of the title with more missions, more weapons, and two more playable characters. Its Co-Op run and gun gameplay and simple platforming remained the same from its previous incarnation. However, just adding a new sight doesn’t improve how the gun shoots.

The biggest asset that Mercenary Kings Reloaded has to offer is its art direction. Reminiscent of SNK’s Metal Slug, each and every pixel and animation is fluid as it is eye catching. Character and environments were animated by Paul Robertson, whom you may remember as the one responsible for the art of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Robertson’s artistic flair is made apparent through Mercenary Kings Reloaded‘s  colorful backdrops of jungle scenery and war-torn city scapes. Sprites are bouncy and well animated, giving life to the player character as they mow down nameless mooks with endless gunfire. One-eyed snipers and large mechanical enemies litter the landscape and load the body count. The Reloaded edition carries alongside it newer sprites for it’s firearms and knives as well.


While Mercenary Kings Reloaded is extremely easy on the eyes, the rest of the game seems to cast a stale pall over its colorful atmosphere. With four characters to play as, the game takes place over 16 different levels, each with six to ten different missions to play. Missions run the gambit from rescuing hostages, to gathering materials, to just slaughtering the forces of CLAW. This is where Mercenary Kings Reloaded suffers the most. Missions force you to explore the same maps several times, which begins to grow stale after the third run. Paired with that, each mission outside of assassinations have little to no guidance, which lends itself to frustration as you try to beat its fifteen minute timer. Controls can be stiff at times but otherwise work well as you hop over spike traps and shoot baddies. The reloading mechanic does take some getting used to, and feels like a unneeded pause to its otherwise fast gameplay.

If Mercenary Kings Reloaded was released back in 2014, it would’ve been met with much more acclaim and admiration, not unlike Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World that came before it. However, after four years of various other indie titles of the same genre paving new ground after it, not much can be noticed in its improvements. If you can get past its repetitive gameplay, it’s a beautiful game that shows real art talent. Mercenary Kings Reloaded was released on February 6th, 2018 for Steam, PS4, Vita, XBox One, and Switch. This review was played on the Nintendo Switch version.


About the Author

Scott Beaulieu



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