Mercenary Kings review: run and gun

Mercenary Kings offers great retro-style shooting fun for the PS4, alone or with friends.

14
Many game players grew up on classic shooters like Contra and Metal Slug, and Tribute Games' Mercenary Kings fits right in. After several months in Steam Early Access, it's officially released on PlayStation 4. The terrorist group CLAW is up to no good and it's up to you, the Kings, to set out and stop them. That's easier said than done, as there are over 100 missions where you'll have to mow down enemy forces and complete objectives. The game starts out mercifully enough with simple gunners and tiny predatory creatures, but soon ups the ante with giant robots and other enemies that require a bit of firepower to bring down. Thankfully, Mercenary Kings provides that in spades. There are over 300 different weapon types you can play around with, mixing up their effects for unpredictable results. Ever see a shotgun lay out suppressing fire with the same effect as a taser? In this game, you will--and it will be bloody. Your character can also be upgraded in a variety of ways thanks to bionics that can make you faster and more efficient at killing. These have to be earned by completing missions in the game, but you'll be thankful to have these skills down the road, especially when going up against the game's more tyrannical powerhouses.

Speak softly and carry a big gun

Although the opening levels may trick you into thinking otherwise, Mercenary Kings is a difficult game. While the gameplay consists of simple run-and-gun tactics, you'll have to think about how to approach every combat situation. You'll find yourself surrounded by enemies, and to make matters worse, some levels have time limits as well. Thankfully, multiplayer makes it much more doable. Up to four people can take part in co-op action, either online or off, and it's a blast. Sure, it can be easy to get lost in the action when everyone's jumping around and shooting, but you'll want to keep enlisting friends to see what the next team will do for you. Unfortunately, there's a bit of repetition. The game will force you to regularly revisit levels, even if you're taking on a whole new mission. There are also occasional bugs that get in the way--particularly with multiplayer match-ups

Expect lots of big bangs

Rookies may take a while to get used to the punishing conditions, especially with that clock. Still, Mercenary Kings has a lot to offer for classic shooter fans, whether they're taking matters into their own hands or enlisting a team. It's a charming retro throwback that does the genre proud. [7]
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, available for free to PlayStation Plus subscribers. Mercenary Kings is also available now on PC. The game is rated M.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    April 10, 2014 11:00 AM

    Robert Workman posted a new article, Mercenary Kings review: run and gun.

    Mercenary Kings offers great retro-style shooting fun for the PS4, alone or with friends.

    • reply
      April 10, 2014 11:11 AM

      "Although the opening levels may trick you into thinking otherwise, Mercenary Kings is a difficult game." Eh, not really. I played for a while and have so far not succeeded in completing a single mission (apart from the tutorial). Oh, I did complete one mission but had died so many times that I didn't earn any money.

      I could perhaps start sucking less, but an easy opening? No sir.

      • reply
        April 10, 2014 11:27 AM

        I can't kill the first Not A Metal Gear.

        • reply
          April 10, 2014 11:39 AM

          It took a while for me to get there, but it's do-able. Just make sure you have med packs on you.

          • reply
            April 10, 2014 11:45 AM

            Come do it for me. >:( That part is ruining the game for me.

            • reply
              April 10, 2014 12:58 PM

              It's just old school pattern memorization. Where'd your Mega Man training go?!

            • reply
              April 10, 2014 1:02 PM

              Duck the chain arm, shoot the dude when the cockpit opens.
              Shoot the tank on the back when it turns around.
              Don't stand in the path of the knife.

              • reply
                April 10, 2014 5:10 PM

                He uses the chain arm more if you're at the edge of the fight area. Makes it super easy.

        • reply
          April 10, 2014 5:09 PM

          Stand all the way on the left or right side of the area you fight it in. Duck. When he does the chain punch thing jump, shoot the cockpit a few times, and then duck under the retracting chainfist.

          When it turns around shoot the hell out of its back.

    • reply
      April 10, 2014 1:15 PM

      The delayed jump gave me motion issues, and I'm not normally affected by motion sickness.

    • reply
      April 10, 2014 1:24 PM

      What kind of gun is everyone using? I've been using an upgraded shotgun with the birdshot. It's only one shot and then reload, but it instakills most anything outside of bosses.

      • reply
        April 10, 2014 4:02 PM

        I didn't even touch the shotguns. I'm still on the Artillery Jager with incendiary ammo.

      • reply
        April 10, 2014 4:04 PM

        Was using Artillery Jager bits with the biggest magazine available and corrosive, but have switched to the Firestarter with a smaller mag (more damage) and cryo rounds. I'm about to finish the third rank missions.

        Haven't unlocked any of the proficiencies yet or played any multiplayer.

      • reply
        April 10, 2014 5:15 PM

        I've got a crazy sniper rifle that does insane damage...4 shots I think.
        A fully pimped out assault rifle that does ~500 a shot
        A shotgun w/ fire birdshot for levels with little guys where I don't feel like aiming.

        Lots of ammo types unlocked as well. It kinda sucks that you can't swap ammo types in the levels. Sure it would make it easier, but how am I supposed to know that there are shield guys in a level until i play it?

    • reply
      April 10, 2014 2:47 PM

      I thought I'd love it but the repletion and the constantly respawning enemies has made me rather dislike it. Glad it came with PS Plus.

      • reply
        April 10, 2014 10:06 PM

        I don't mind it being the same level so much, but the respawning enemies is really dumb and annoying when you have to chase a boss all over a level.

    • reply
      April 10, 2014 3:30 PM

      I bet retro games like this are exactly what the owners of a new and powerful console want to play.

      • reply
        April 10, 2014 3:39 PM

        What does this post even mean? It's a free downloadable Plus game that came a few weeks after Infamous: Second Son and Ground Zeroes. What is the problem with this game existing?

    • reply
      April 10, 2014 4:44 PM

      I can't get over the jump delay. It just aggravates me since. I'm 36 and have been playing sidescrollers since forever... and this is the only game I can recall that has a jump delay.. I stopped playing after 15min.

    • reply
      April 10, 2014 5:19 PM

      I'm loving the game, other than the whole runs like shit thing. I hate when I'm in the middle of a great run through something and then I'm dead because the game hitched and stopped for 2+ seconds. :(

      • reply
        April 10, 2014 6:16 PM

        Are you running it on PC? Because I'm getting those same hitches sometimes. Nice to know it's not just my primitive setup.

        • reply
          April 10, 2014 6:20 PM

          Nope, the PS4. Even the loading screens get hitchy from time to time. :(