Top Critic Average
Mercenary Kings is a royal retro rumble; an outstanding sidescrolling shooter with the depth and longevity of Monster Hunter. Though unwelcome repetition and grind can set in after long stints, grabbing some mates for local co-op fun with ridiculous customised boomsticks never gets old.
Despite looking and playing like a 90's throwback, Mercenary Kings adds character and weapons customization options, and a novel mission structure to create a game that feels contemporary. Its content can feel somewhat repetitive, but by the time it does, most players will have already got their money's worth.
Despite some questionable design decisions, there's a good time to be had with Mercenary Kings. Loads of content, great presentation values, and an addictive mission structure will keep you coming back for more.
'Mercenary Kings' may look like a few hours of arcade side-scrolling, but it is in fact much deeper. Early frustrations give way to addiction, and this coming from a player who normally rolls their eyes when faced with each game's crafting system. That enemy that frustrates you with his bullet shield, as precious time ticks away, finds a new reality when you start shooting caustic bullets. Likewise, the boss that hides at the other end of level, is easily tracked with the right mod, and can even be captured with a timely shock bomb. For every problem that 'Mercenary Kings' throws at the player, there is a player-styled solution waiting to be found and executed.
Mercenary Kings is a good side-scrolling shooter, but when you play it alone, you're bound to get annoyed by quite a few things. When experienced with at least one more friend, things are much better and you can focus on the fun factor of the whole game.
Like any good game in the Metal Slug-style, Mercenary Kings is by turns maddeningly frustrating and wonderfully cathartic. A special brand of distilled mayhem keeps the pace fast and the payback high as Kings rewards you for every foray into its deadly world. But its unwillingness to fully explain its crafting element, the inconsistent mission design and the odd teeny-tiny bug hold it back from perfection. Still, the leaderboard system and simple, gung-ho mechanics ensure that it remains good fun until the over-long campaign eventually out-stays its welcome.
For free on PlayStation Plus, Mercenary Kings is an unbeatable deal. A great cooperative retro action title with plenty of challenge and reward. With the huge variety of customization, you can truly make the experience your own, while experiencing it with others. Even when this game leaves the Instant Game Collection, it will be well worth paying for. The few gaping flaws of not mixing the online and couch co-ops, and the lack of enemy variety throwing any real curve balls later in the game can be mostly overlooked by the sheer amount of fun you will have teaming up with a group of friends with independent builds and play styles to take on a particularly challenging mission. Whether you fail or not, Mercenary Kings succeeds at being a great experience on the PS4.
A fun side-scrolling shooter marred with some frustrating design choices. There's a lot of interesting ideas here but nothing other than the crafting system really shines.
It does take a bit of practice to become competent with the gameplay especially in the reloading of your guns, and figuring out how to upgrade your wares can be confusing at first, but Mercenary Kings is still a great casual game to pick up in between the epic blockbusters, or when you have twenty minutes to kill.
There are moments of pure bliss, encounters that will require nimble rolls and quick trigger fingers, and plenty of looting and crafting to be done. But I can't help but wonder what could have been.
While Mercenary Kings admirably takes some risks to try and create a different kind of experience, and blend together the traditional with the more contemporary, unfortunately the result is a bit muddled. The good news is that for people searching for something different in their shooters, and who are willing to invest the time to get things going, the further you get into the game the more fun it gets to be. If, however, you’re looking for a quick fix of any kind or thirst for an arcade-like experience you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you’re interested in it be sure to read up and look around to be sure it will suit you.
You'll constantly wish the annoyances would recede so you can wallow in the good stuff - because the good stuff is really good. It's just not enough to lighten what is ultimately a heavy and time-consuming experience. If I could freeze time for that moment, a few hours in, where everything fits into place and Mercenary Kings is my new favourite game, I would. We're so conditioned to equate quantity with quality in gaming that it feels counter-intuitive to criticise an otherwise great game for offering too much, but Mercenary Kings would be twice the game if it were only half the size.
Initial control issues detract from Mercenary Kings' old school ambitions a little, but this is still an enjoyable romp that comes wrapped in a charming pixelated package. The ability to customise your weapons and armour is what sets this release apart, allowing you to inject the kind of personality into the action that its predecessors lack. The mission time limits seem unnecessary, but look past them and you'll find plenty of fun here – especially if you recruit three real-life soldiers to share the frantic foray with.
Mercenary Kings has a lot of interesting mechanics, but some are definitely stronger than others. There are moments of brilliance in its battlefield, but those looking for the next big thing best look elsewhere — this king is merely a prince.
If it had much more of that fast-paced action instead of a plethora of tiresome fetch quests, it could have been a great and addictive title, but as it is, it simply falls flat and fails to realise its full potential.
If you don't mind taking on a few slower quests with a couple of buddies, then Mercenary Kings can certainly help deliver on a fun time shooting bad guys with friends. If you're more likely to be playing a lone or you seek something with smoother fast paced action gameplay, then you might be best looking elsewhere. Mercenary Kings still provides a solid enough distraction for the former crowd.
For all the negatives there's a game in there that's so much fun to play and a blast when you can get a few friends together. If you can look past Mercenary Kings' flaws you're in for a great time – just bring your patience along for the ride.