Developed by: Ronimo Games
Published by: dtp Entertainment
Genre:Multiplayer online battle arena
Platform: XBLA/PSN
Play it if: You want a great introduction to the world of MOBAs.
Skip it if: You prefer PC games.

Any PC gamer out there can tell you that multiplayer online battle arena games are taking the online gaming scene by storm. In just the past year, giants like League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients have seen favorable success with players eager to experience their fusion of RPG and competitive real time strategy mechanics. Console players, however, have yet to get a title that lets them experience what this hype is all about. That is, until now.

Despite being an obvious portmanteau, Awesomenauts is also a blend of different elements that lets it work effectively on consoles. Instead of teams of five, you get teams of three. Instead of an overhead map, you get a 2D scrolling arena. While at first glance it may seem the game is a watered down version of the other MOBA games out there, players need to realize Awesomenauts isn’t trying to emulate the big boys on the PC. It’s simply trying to give console players a taste of what a MOBA game feels like. And, boy is it tasty.

The game offers both online and split-screen matches and also lets up to three local players take on another team online. Matches consist of two teams of three trying to take down their enemy’s base while also defending theirs from attack. Each team has its own set of powerful turrets that also provide barriers for the other team, so once these turrets are down, the opposing team can easily waltz into an enemy base and take it down. Each team is also assisted by friendly bots that are constantly making their way to each turret, but without the help of the Awesomenauts, they will quickly get shot down.

A lot of the game’s charm comes from its colorful cast – the Awesomenauts themselves. While the core of the game consists of winning as many matches as you can, there isn’t much room for character development. This didn’t stop Ronimo Games from giving each Awesomenaut his own personality, clearly evident after watching the opening cutscene and listening to their witty lines of dialogue during matches. Each character even has his own unique theme song that plays when you select him, and like any MOBA title, each one has his own unique bag of tricks.

During matches, your characters can pick up in-game currency called Solar that lets them purchase power-ups and abilities. Everyone starts with the bare minimum, and as matches progress, the more Solar a character picks up, the more powerful he can become. Before a match begins, you can change the loadout of your characters, furthering creating an element of strategy to the abilities you choose to upgrade. Sheriff Lonestar, for example, has both a dynamite throw attack that does splash damage and a ramming bull attack that helps clear the area by pushing enemies away. You can choose to level up both of these to give you a well-rounded character or focus on one to prioritize your role on your team. These simple choices make each gameplay session a unique experience since players can customize their characters to their liking.

Starting a match in Awesomenauts is also a painless procedure, and the game never lets you wait to get into a match. If a match doesn’t have enough human players, the computer will control any remaining teammates and continue to search for incoming players. These bots actually do a pretty good job, and I often found myself in hot water after underestimating them. Players who start a match already in progress are given extra Solar to catch up to everyone else. While I did like the ease in starting a match, I wish there had been an option to let players wait until they had a full team of people as I often ended up in matches that were close to finishing and on teams nearing defeat.

Every match you play through, even the ones you lose, will get you experience points that levels up your Awesomenauts account and unlocks more characters and abilities to buy during matches. The game starts you off with three characters, but three more elaborate classes such as the tank and healer get unlocked later on. I found that because of this, lower leveled teams may be at a disadvantage. Maybe this is why even a loss gets you lots of experience points. Of course, your account’s level has nothing to do with your in-game level that always resets with each match, so even if you’ve maxed out your experience points, you still need to use your plethora of abilities effectively to win.

Players can jump, shoot in eight directions, and do things you normally don’t do in other MOBA titles, so Awesomenauts may look more like a 2D platformer than a game like League of Legends, but Ronimo’s approach to creating a MOBA experience on the consoles actually works. Some matches can last up to thirty minutes, and are as engaging and addicting as those in other PC titles. The success of an online game is also measured by how big its online community is, and because the game is accessible to even the most casual of console gamers out there and because Ronimo plans to release more content and characters in the future, I’d say the fun won’t be over anytime soon.

About The Author

Giancarlo Saldana is Blast's Gaming Editor. Follow him on Twitter @giansaldana to read his daily musings about the world of video games.

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