Developer: Digital Basement
Publisher: Digital Basement
Release Date: Dec. 8th, 2015
Platform: PC [Reviewed]
Taking some time away from the Early Access hit ARK: Survival Evolved, Indie developer Digital Basement has tried their hand at making something a little different. While still multiplayer focused, The Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare ditches the nitty-gritty of ARK in favor of some good ol’ Army men shoot‘em up. Much in the vein of the classic Army Men games, The Mean Greens is a multiplayer, third-person shooter that focuses more on gameplay than any bells and whistles featured in modern multi-player shooters.
Each player is dropped into one of the 10 maps, having every weapon in the game and a goal ahead of them. The number “10” seems like a reoccurring theme for Digital Basement. Among the 10 maps are 10 different game modes (each map it’s own mode), and housing 10 players to the match. The matches do happen in a 5v5 format, but is appropriate given the squad based tactics used by these tactical, plastic operatives. Outside of Free-for-All and Team Deathmatch, some of the modes that Digital Basement has included in The Mean Greens are really interesting.
One of my favorite modes is Barnyard Ball. In this mode, you play Foosball against the opposing team while shooting them down. It’s amazing to see Digital Basement ditching preconceived notions of what a multiplayer shooter should include in favor of more unique game design. I guess, you could say its a nod to those who have made the journey into more nontraditional games like Rocket League. With that being said, these game modes can be a little problematic.
While each of the modes is loads of fun, it can only be played on one map. For example, Barnyard Ball can only be played on the map that it’s associated with, and no other game mode can be played on the map associated with Barnyard Ball. This is extremely unfortunate, particularly in creating a redundant atmosphere for these levels at times. I like the linearity involved in things like Free-for-All, but I can only play the game mode on one map. This leaves the replay value to diminish, delivering the caving feeling of boredom as it creeps in through every playthrough.
One thing to interrupt the repetitiveness is the simple fun-factor heralded in each match. To be honest, it’s incredibly fun. The shooting, running, and jumping all feel responsive and accurate. While Digital Basement easily could have sold the game on the Army Men gimmick, they still decided to implement solid shooting and moving mechanics, feeling like a fresh take on the classics instead of a rehash of past tech. One flaw in the shooting mechanics is found when jumping, though. You cannot fire your weapon while jumping. It’s not clear whether this was a choice by the developer to stick to more traditional roots or just an oversight. But, the maneuver, or lack thereof, can be a huge annoyance in game. The gameplay is based around the ability to move and act quickly and the inability to shoot while jumping seems counter-intuitive to the overall scheme of the game.
There is a total of six weapons in the game, each included in your arsenal on spawn. You’ll have access to an assault rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, flamethrower, bazooka, and pistol. Immediately starting with all these weapons seems to create a more balanced experience versus modern counterparts of the genre. Furthermore, each weapon feels balanced. Never in a match was there players only using a certain weapon. Each spawn I was changing my weapon and trying a different tactic and it appeared my opponents were following suit. There was once when I picked up someone right in front of me using a sniper rifle while they had a shotgun, which should have been a clear victory for them. It’s just more of a testament to the balanced weapons in game.
Running on Unreal Engine 4, The Mean Greens boasts a fluid anesthetic. While not flashy with huge cinematic explosions, the game delivers exactly what is required of it, sacrificing spectacle in favor of optimization. The massive size of everything around you is a nice play on perspective and is satisfying to see while playing. There’s no doubt that flashes of nostalgia will strike you mid-play.
For transparency purposes, I didn’t run into many issues that others did. After reading some comments, it should be fair to note that I did not personally experience any server errors, but many players are currently complaining about an inability to simply connect to a match. A patch is more than likely in the works, knowing the work ethic of Digital Basement, but at a week after launch, the problem persists. This issue certainly doesn’t render the game useless, but it should a consideration if you plan on picking up The Mean Greens soon.
The Mean Greens is really a fantastic time. It’s straightforward and unique, not bantering with unnecessary fluff that other games shovel in. The weapons and combat is balanced while still offering some incredibly individual game modes, making a game in a dull genre stand out by just being plain ol’ fun.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When discussing The Mean Greens, it can be summed up as such: You’re getting what you pay for. While the game is flawed, there is hope that it’ll be fixed, and the pros present now still outweigh the cons. At $14.99, you’re really getting quite a lot for your money and I think it would be well spent here, even at full price.
There are still looming issues though that make The Mean Greens feel like a half polished free-to-play title. Between the jumping issue and connection problems, you get pulled out of the game fast, making simple tasks frustrating to achieve. Thankfully these issues can be fixed by a patch and hopefully Digital Basement is hard at work addressing the problems that that the community has brought up.