Top Critic Average
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.
Less than the sum of its many and varied parts, Mercenary Kings never gets the mix of modern and retro influences right – apart from with the amazing visuals.
An enormously entertaining shooter that starts to wear out its welcome after multiple repeats of the same stage maps
Mercenary Kings heads down several familiar paths at once, to mixed results.
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.
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.
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.
Despite the repetition, Mercenary Kings offers an addictive customization system and a good all-round shoot 'em up experience.
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.
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.