Awesomenauts Logo - We Know Gamers

MOBA’s have skyrocketed in popularity in the last few years. While still in their infancy compared to the rest of the PC genres, these RTS hybrids have earned much acclaim, spawning entirely new communities of hardcore gamers. With this fresh trend spreading fast, Dutch developer Ronimo Games attempts to step into this small yet lucrative club with Awesomenauts.

Awesomenauts follows the standard formula of a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). This somewhat confusing terminology refers to a unique style of online competitive game that has been taking the internet by storm.

A MOBA pits two teams of human players against each other in a fight to take the other team’s base while defending their own. Teams are usually very small and due to the immense amount of multitasking involved, players will have to be flexible in both attack and defence in order to win. This process is aided by a wave of AI controlled allies that continuously march toward the enemy base causing damage in their wake. However despite their numbers these AI drones are weak and can be held back for quite some time. By contrast the players control far more powerful characters that are able to influence and change the course of the battle.
Spitfire was killed by Rob... OMG!
Awesomenauts unlike other MOBA’s disposes with the standard RTS interface that the genre is known for and switches it up with a 2D shoot ‘em-up affair. But while the perspective and control scheme may be new, the premise and flow of Awesomenauts is no different to any other MOBA out there. Experienced players of the genre will be able to jump straight into the game and immediately feel right at home.

However this new design aspect does bring its fair share of trouble to the overall enjoyment of the game. The pacing of Awesomenauts is laboriously slow and gives the impression of constantly moving underwater. It’s clunky, awkward and will tire you out very quickly. These problems in the games tempo could be easily solved if the player count was slightly higher or if the turrets had less health or if the entire speed of the game was increased.

Another major drawback is in the combat system which seems to punish players who rely on shooting at their enemies. Despite being a pro projectile, gun heavy game the act of actually shooting feels completely arbitrary the majority of the time. Shots are appallingly slow and with very limited range allowing most opponents to dodge them with ease. This flaw heavily sways in the favour of any character with a melee based attack, as these high damage moves will destroy even the thickest skinned adversaries with ease and without the threat of the enemy hitting back.

It only takes mere seconds after starting to realise that the overall presentation of Awesomenauts is easily the game’s greatest feature.

The first thing that will grab you is the intro, as anyone who grew up in the eighties to the early nineties will instantly feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia with the overall tone of the game. The visual aesthetic of Awesomenauts is essentially the combination of every childhood memory of watching Saturday morning cartoons pulled from your mind, with all the best bits mashed together. The visual direction is not only an original concept but also a very well executed creative decision by the art team.
Great Art style.
Just like any good cartoon the visuals are crisp, bright and bursting with colour. The character designs are fun and show a great amount of individual personality which helps build an extra sense of attachment to your favourite characters. The art work also does a great job of being both aesthetically pleasing without being obtrusive during the heat of the battle. Additional effects are also used to express damage, stunned states and even blindness that may be inflicted by the games various attacks.

If any criticism of the art direction could be given at all (and it is a very minute criticism at that) then it would be that the levels look way too similar to each other and that there is little effort to differentiate these environments from each other.

The fantastic presentation of Awesomenauts is also further improved by an impressive and robust soundtrack. Tunes are both exciting and memorably catchy driving further excitement into the game’s proceedings. The in-game music is also progressive and a remix of your character’s theme will blend in during a kill streak adding further satisfaction to your hard earned efforts.

Luckily for the un-initiated, Awesomenauts is the most simplistic MOBA on the market for those curious to try out the genre for the first time. But while it serves as a great introduction it is worth mentioning that Awesomenauts is just too limited for its own good.

Firstly while the cast of characters are completely different in terms of ability and tactics there are only eight to choose from, which is a rather limited choice when compared to the hundreds of characters that are available in the genre’s more meaty titles. Also when combined with a lock out feature allowing only one of the same character per team it is far too easy to be stuck in a match without access to your main combatant.
It's all out war in this arena.
Another limited asset is in the list of maps which currently stands at a grand total of three. Though while it’s true that other MOBA’s have a limited map list the arenas in Awesomenauts are bland, uninspiring and could be easily mistaken for one another. The levels are also surprisingly large with many useless or un-necessary areas which hold little significance considering the game only accommodates for six players at a time.

Despite attempting to emulate the success of other MOBA’s on the market, sadly Awesomenauts fails to capture the feel of the genre in terms of technical expertise. The game is severely un-balanced leading to poor match-ups with some much overpowered characters. These balance problems also diminish any tension from the gameplay as every match is heavily one sided leading to little possibility of a standoff or comeback.

Awesomenauts is also a huge grind at the start with a punishing learning curve. New players start out with little to choose from in both character selection and load out options. Only by further play and experimentation will these options increase. This would be fine however if there was any sort of ranking system to speak of. There is also no option to balance the teams or include a level cap on matches leading to the very common sight of newcomers being blown away by higher level players with access to far more superior characters and upgrades.

Final Verdict
For those willing to get into MOBA’s, Awesomenauts is an easy introduction to the genre. The presentation is top notch and in its defence, the game does try to change up the standard formula of the genre that it’s trying to portray. However with that being said, it won’t be long until you’ll want to cut your teeth with the bigger and more robust titles out there. As for a product of its own merits Awesomenauts can be enjoyable in its own quirky way, but there are too many problems that prevent it from being truly awesome.

Gameplay = 5/10
Graphics = 10/10
Design = 4/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 6.3/10
Had a chance to play the game? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!
Awesomenauts Review
Reviewed by Spencer Marshman
on Aug 28 2012

Rating: 6/10


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