Building your dream weapon takes time, as the more rare materials only come from bosses. Guns can be outfitted with six different parts and are separated into five different categories: pistol, shotgun, submachine, assault, sniper, and magnum. The number of combinations are immense, and your frankenstein creation will ultimately change the way you tackle enemies. Another level of customization comes with the ammo types, giving you even more room to play with your gun builds. Sometimes you just need a sniper rifle that shoots bouncing incendiary shotgun shells that goes “meow” every time you squeeze the trigger. There isn’t a ‘perfect’ build, and there is definitely a balance to each of the weapons as a large clip takes ages to load whereas a small clip can take less than a second. Ideally your co-op team can take roles and have each player craft a gun that compliments the other players on the team.
It’s crazy to think that there are over 100 missions in Mercenary Kings, but each of them are not unique. A set of missions will require you to go through the same environment multiple times, and even though you are accomplishing different goals it gets tedious after a while. The enemy variety is sorely lacking, with only a trickle of new faces while moving through the ranks. Patterns are quickly memorized and even palette swaps from the old TMNT foot clan days can’t spice things up. I’ll argue that learning a map is very important in accomplishing bonus objectives in a certain amount of time, but I do wish that Tribute changed things up at an accelerated pace.
Things would get boring quick if the game wasn’t so gosh darn gorgeous. Paul Roberston (Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Wizorb) bleeds from every pixel in Mercenary Kings and each character has their own personality shine through their design and animation. He has nailed down the 16-bit balloon style head pop when a bullet pierces through an enemy’s skull. There is nothing quite like this style mixed with this substance. The soundtrack is magnetic and makes the repetition tolerable with its grungy guitars layered over the chiptunes. There is something awesome about saving hostages and feeling like a badass with the perfect soundtrack leading you through each level.
Co-Op teams join together in the main camp both locally and online, with the option to have your game open to the public, friends, or invite only. Since there is no difficulty scaling and no rank matching/balancing, there is no stopping a highly ranked player from clearing an entire map and leaving his/her team in the dust. A huge gap in equipment will make things boring for both parties, so it is in your best interests to find a good group of friends to play with and stick with them. Mission objectives can be tackled simultaneously by a coordinated group, where multiple hostages can be saved at once and materials on all corners of the map can be scavenged. Local co-op doesn’t deter from the experience and having a couple friends on the couch is an awesome way to experience the game. In true retro fashion, each player is given a quadrant of the screen. If there are less than four players, the map is displayed on the other split screens which makes it super convenient for all. After playing co-op the game feels a little boring solo since you get used to having all types of bullets flying everywhere.
Mercenary Kings is a game full of content, ready for a group of friends to discover and conquer. Bear in mind that things get repetitive, but there is nothing like rolling through an enemy encampment with a solid team bearing the most insane weapon combinations. If you love this type of shooter, and can deal with the mission structure of Monster Hunter then you’re going to have a good time. The draw to find more materials and craft better guns will drive you to keep playing. The wonderful aesthetic and strong sense of progression will keep you playing for dozens of hours. Mercenary Kings is a decent solo game, but throw a couple teammates into the mix and it becomes an excellent co-op experience.
The Co-Op Experience: Four players can shoot, stab, loot, and craft their way to victory in local split screen co-op or online co-op.
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.