Based on the Comedy Central show of the same name, Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon is a twin-stick shooter that promises to bring you face-to-face with demon hordes as you attempt to prevent the apocalypse. The premise might sound exciting, but it's not. Quite frankly, Ugly Americans is downright boring.
Obviously designed with fan service in mind, Ugly Americans kicks off with an animated intro that looks as though it was pulled right from the show. These high-quality interludes are used to convey the story of the game as you move from level to level. Each cinema scene can be replayed from an extras menu, along with two deleted scenes. The script was written by the show's creator, and all of the lead actors lend their voices to the project. There's even a complete episode of the show ("G. I. Twayne") waiting to be unlocked.
Unfortunately, the video extras are the highlight of the experience, as the core gameplay never manages to make it out of the "rote and repetitive" category.
Playable online or off, with up to four players, Ugly Americans follows the standard conventions of the twin-stick genre. The left stick moves, the right stick fires and hordes of enemies are present to block your path. Power-ups randomly appear, offering buffs to whoever can snag them first. Four different characters are available for play (Callie, Grimes, Leonard and Mark), but none really feel that different. They have different stats, but in the end, the minor differences aren't enough to distinguish one from another.
Stats can be upgraded between levels by spending experience points on your character. Each character has a different experience track, so upgrading one doesn't upgrade the others. In addition to the experience upgrades, you can also apply some limited customization by choosing a demon baby to carry around with you. Demon babies each have a special buff that never expires, making them one of the more useful items in the game.
Weapons vary primarily in damage and speed. Weaker weapons fire faster, while more powerful weapons are slower out of the gate. New players are likely to experiment with the different weapons, but given the bullet sponge nature of the enemies, the only effective guns are those that create the biggest boom.
Whereas most twin-stick shooters derive their challenge from creative level design and hordes of enemies, Ugly Americans pretty much gives you a straight line for a level and enemies that can soak up plenty of damage. Even low-level baddies take multiple hits to eliminate, so the game is limited in the number of opponents it can throw on the screen. This is magnified by the fact that enemies don't appear to be stunned by your bullets. They take damage when hit, but are otherwise unfazed.
As a result, the majority of the game can be summed up with a slow circling motion while you fire at the horde of monsters. There is little in the way of strategy or challenge, aside from staving off the monotony of performing the same action over and over. Ugly Americans attempts to make things more difficult in some areas by giving your opponents offensive or defensive buffs or increasing their movement speed, but that's about the extent of it.
Given the concept of the show (demons, humans, zombies and other supernatural creatures living together in Manhattan), the game held the potential for a great deal of smart humor. Sadly, most of the humor seems to be little more than sex jokes revolving around the words "c*ck," "balls," and "penis." It never comes across as intelligent or slick; rather, it ends up feeling crass and low-brow. Imagine telling a 12-year-old boy to come up with the "sickest jokes he could think of," and you've probably got a good idea of what to expect.
With so many other twin-stick shooters available on Xbox Live, there is little reason for anyone except hardcore fans of the show to bother with Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon. Yes, it is technically sound, but the gameplay is bland, the humor barely rates as juvenile and the video unlocks are slow to open up. Unless you need something to put you to sleep, spend your 800 Microsoft points ($10 USD) elsewhere.
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