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Game Info:

Mercenary Kings Reloaded 
Developed by: Tribute Games
Published by: Tribute Games
Release date: February 6, 2018
Available on: Linux, macOS, PS4, Switch, Vita, Windows, Xbox One
Genre: Shoot ‘em up
Number of players: Up to four online
ESRB Rating: Teen for Violence, Blood and Gore, Comic Mischief, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco
Price: $19.99

Thank you Tribute Games for sending us this title to review!

Mercenary Kings was successfully Kickstarted in 2012 and was released on PC and PS4 in 2014. The Xbox, Vita, and Switch didn’t receive this gem until 2018. The reloaded edition adds two new characters, additional guns, and the ability to buy crafting items without having to scavenge for them in levels.

This 2D shoot ‘em up is a mashup of Metal Slug and Monster Hunter. The story goes as follows: scientists were creating a bio-regenerating formula on a remote island when the chief engineer was kidnapped by Baron and his CLAW forces. A team with royal sounding code names were sent to rescue him. However, only your character and another survived the attempt. The deaths of your comrades are quite gruesome and portrayed vividly in pixel styled cutscenes.

Because of the blood, dismemberment, and decapitations of enemies, Mercenary Kings earns its Teen rating. Some soldiers are seen smoking in the opening cutscene. The blood and cigarettes are expected on the battlefield; however, I was surprised by the lack of bras for the female commandos. They jiggled quite a bit as they walked.

Mercenary Kings Reloaded
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun missions; people actively playing online
Weak Points: It takes a few minutes to begin online co-op missions; game crashed on me when I was online
Moral Warnings: Violence, blood, and gore as enemies are dismembered and decapitated; female characters jiggle as they walk; soldiers are seen smoking

When you first begin the game, you get to customize your character by naming them and selecting their appearance and color scheme. The training mission will teach you the basic controls which are shooting with the Y button, reloading with the right trigger, stabbing with X (great as a backup when you don’t have time to reload), and using the left trigger to manage your inventory. The A button will allow you to roll into some tight spaces or quickly evade enemy attacks.

As enemies are killed, they will often drop materials which can be crafted into mods, weapon, and armor enhancements. At the base, you can store items in a chest to lighten your load since your trusty backpack does have its limits. Some of the mods make health items more effective, allow for better enemy drops or increase luck. The paratrooper mod slows down your falling speed.

By talking to the commander, you can select a mission that’s suitable for your rank. You begin as a recruit and can work your way up to a general. Each mission is timed and offers reward money upon completion. Some missions have extra objectives to complete and they’re worth doing if you have time to spare. There’s a wide variety of mission types including destroying bombs, rescuing hostages, gathering resources, killing specific enemies, or rendezvousing with allies.

At the beginning of each level, you’ll start with three lives and when you lose them all or run out of time, the mission will fail. For every death, your reward will decrease. Missions can be replayed as many times as needed. Some levels have infirmaries which can slowly heal you. They also serve as checkpoints and your character will respawn there if they die. Rations and first aid kits can heal you faster without losing valuable time.

Mercenary Kings Reloaded
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 76%
Violence - 1/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Besides healing items, it’s wise to carry other handy equipment like adrenaline shots for reviving allies, grenades, bombs, C4, and riot shields. Some levels have walls just asking to be blown up so having explosives on hand is always a good idea.

There’s a wide variety of enemies and bosses to contend with. Some of them run around and shoot aimlessly while others have daunting attacks that require timing to avoid. The heavier armored bad guys often have a weak spot to exploit and do damage to them. If you’re having trouble taking any of the CLAW forces down, you can recruit some internet help if you’re online and set your game to public. I was able to get some online action within a few minutes of going public on my game. Sadly, I did get disconnected in one of my online skirmishes.

The fast-paced chiptune music fits the art style nicely. Each character has a catchphrase that they use; my character said “Let’s kick some CLAW!” at the beginning of each mission. The sound effects are fitting and get the job done.

With active multiplayer and over one hundred missions to enjoy, I think that the $19.99 asking price is reasonable for this game. The price tag is the same across all platforms so it’s good to not see a “premium” price for the Switch version. The portability is great and this game runs flawlessly on the Switch.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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