Ugly Americans’ RPG elements add some depth and customization to the chaos. Killing enemies earns XP, allowing gamers to level up between levels. For every level gained, you get to distribute one attribute point to strength, life, speed, special move recharge, and other stats. Reaching the maximum level of 60 in the XBLA version unlocks an avatar T-shirt. It also activates a bug that causes the game to slow down or lag intermittently, which the developers will hopefully fix soon. While there’s no real incentive to max out every character, doing so will greatly extend the playtime for serious fans of the game.
The level 60 slowdown bug is only one of several rough edges that betray the game’s budget roots. While South Park: LGTDP! perfectly captured the look of its show, the 3D cel-shaded graphics of Ugly Americans come across as cheaper and uglier than the actual cartoon. It’s far from unacceptable, but people who don’t already like the show might not give such an ugly game a chance.
Sound is a mixed bag as well. On the plus side, all of the characters are voiced by the show’s voice actors. However, the enemies (of which there are only four types) repeat the same few voice samples way, way too frequently. The man birds’ sayings in particular consist entirely of stupid and asinine sexual insults – think Jerky Boys as opposed to Monty Python. I wish we could turn off only the man birds’ voices, I hate them so much. In short, a greater variety of enemies who speak less frequently would improve the game a fair deal.
What balances out all of minor flaws? Why co-op, of course! Ugly Americans supports four-player co-op with any combination of local and online players. Online or off, everyone is restricted to the same screen. Players can’t pick the same characters as each other. It might seem like a downer having to sit out your leveled character because someone else chose him or her, but you do keep access to unlocked weapons even when switching characters, so even a level 1 character shouldn’t necessarily be too underpowered.
Multiplayer adds a lot of fun to the game, creating a ton of visual chaos as projectiles and enemies flood the screen. If someone gets knocked out, another player just needs to press a button and revive the poor unfortunate. Naturally, there is an Achievement for doing so 50 times. Players will also need to go through the game online in order to get an Achievement, though all the rest can be done locally. The only real downside to playing the game online is that players can’t drop-in to existing games; if you’re in the middle of a game and a friend wants to join, you’ll have to finish the level and exit the game before sending the invite.
Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon may not reach the sublime heights of the last South Park game, but it’s still a good, unique twin-stick shooter. As a single-player game, it pretty’s challenging as enemies can overwhelm the player, and bosses have a ton of life. Nothing a little grinding can’t fix; after all, the character leveling system is fantastic. Multiplayer really makes the game come to life, speeding up the pace as gamers team up against crazy swarms of ne’er-do-wells. Factor in the unlockable extras like two avatar awards (a demon baby and a shirt), a full, hilarious episode of the show (“G.I. Twain”), deleted scenes, and plenty of concept art, and it’s a package that Adult Swim lovers dare not resist. Twin-stick shooter enthusiasts who haven’t seen the show shouldn’t have a hard time getting into Apocalypsegeddon either, provided they bring along a partner or two for the ride.
The Co-Op Experience: Four players can co-op online, locally, or any combination of online and local play.
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.