Performing higher combos and completing objectives earns you two types of experience points at the end of each level. Score directly corresponds to Skill Points; these are used to gain special moves that can be used during combat. Some skills are common across all characters, such as the ability to charge your weapon up before unleashing fury, or being able to combo an enemy mid air. Other skills are specific to the character, and can be used once a special meter has been filled by defeating enemies. Character Points are earned by finding collectibles scattered throughout each map. One point can be earned for finding all the soda cans (generic collectible) and another is awarded for finding all the weapons. These points can be spent on increasing character attributes such as health, strength (melee damage), precision (gun damage), and explosives. It’s up to you to decide how to distribute these points, but just remember that it’s not a bad idea to compliment other people in the group. You can always reset the character if you want to begin from scratch (warning: not a re-spec) so be mindful when spending these valuable skill points.
The arsenal of weapons boasts over twenty items at your disposal. Once a weapon is found in a level, it is unlocked forever and can be used in any future mission. Players can swap their melee, long range, and explosive weapons at the beginning of the level and can only switch if a weapon is found during the mission or at the beginning of the next level. Every combination can be deadly, and the weapons determine your combat style. A machete and uzi is a fast pairing, perfect for wannabe assassins whereas a shotgun and sledgehammer is more suited for bruisers. Hordes of bloodthirsty monsters will come at you in every direction and aim to make your life miserable. These abominations come in variety of shapes and flavors. Some climb the walls and spit noxious acid at you, while others will flat out run at your face. Some are big and scary, others small and wily. It really comes down to selecting the right tactics to take care of business and turn them all to goo. Using your weapons, skills, and teamwork the monsters should quickly become fodder for an organized squad of co-op partners.
Final Exam supports drop in and drop out co-op, so feel free to tag in or out at any time. Character progression is saved on a per-character basis and on an account level so you can bring a higher leveled character into a lower ranked player’s game. Four players can come together online, but local play is limited to two players. Collectibles will only appear for those that have not found the item yet, but weapon pickups remain in the level no matter what. Pickups dropped by monsters such as ammo, explosives, or medkits are shared so ensure that the right items are going to the people who need them. Final Exam uses the resurrection system common to most co-op games where you can revive a downed teammate with the press of a button. Sometimes this can be tough, especially when your friend is covered by a pile of enemies so it may be better just to spend a life to respawn. One weird connectivity issue we had while playing is that it booted us out to the title screen after each level, forcing us to make another lobby each time we wanted to start a new level. It’s a little jarring, and kind of annoying to have to re-invite all the players back after we finished wrecking face on each map.
I have very little to complain about with Final Exam, and most are small nuisances. The aforementioned boot to the title screen sucks, but isn’t game crushing. One thing that brought our momentum to a halt was the fact that there are no checkpoints. If you make your way through a whole level (usually between 15-30 minutes) and fail the final objective, you have to start all over again. It isn’t the end of the world, but you literally get nothing if you fail a level. No score, no experience points, and no collectibles. Keep this in mind when you find your team on its last legs towards the end of the level. Final Exam avoids all the common problems with online beat-em-ups, and even with a party of four the combat was smooth throughout.
If you’re looking for a stylish brawler that you want to run through with a group of friends one evening, Final Exam is a great pickup. The leaderboards, skillpoints, and collectibles add some nice replay value to the game and it is worth trying out a couple different characters to see how they play. The combat is smooth the game is absolutely beautiful, and Mighty Rocket Studio has added some nice touches to put this above the simple ‘move right and punch stuff’ mantra we see in many games in this genre. Think Shank with friends, or Shoot Many Robots with less guns and more punching. It’s fun, crazy, and definitely worth your time. That’s it, time is up. Class dismissed.
Final Exam is available on PC, Playstation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade. This review is based on the PC version of the game, using a copy provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: In cooperative mode, up to four players (local and online) team up to survive. Split up to fill your objectives as fast as possible, or stay together in a cohesive team to increase your chances of survival.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.