[Less Massive] The Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare

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(Disclosure: The review copy of this game was provided to us)

I wouldn’t be doing my job as a guy who writes about games online if I didn’t wax poetic constantly about how the new generation of games are all garbage in comparison to the older, and how you kids today wouldn’t know quality gaming if it was included as a separate DLC season pass. Now that you understand my unquestioned and sarcastic superiority in the way of gaming, let’s continue.

The Mean Greens caught my eye for two reasons: One, it is an army men game. Two, it plays like an older shooter, with none of the leveling or weapon unlocks that have become commonplace thanks to Call of Duty and Team Fortress 2. The premise is as simple as the gameplay: Green and tan plastic soldiers are massacring each other in a war over who knows what. Territory? Plastic? Who cares?

I’d also be lying if I said that Plastic Warfare’s visuals didn’t pull me in. This game looks fantastic, pulling off amazing detail in environments that really offer a convincing feel of being a one inch tall plastic toy. The detail on objects is incredible, from the grainy texture of the wooden blocks to the shiny plastic toys that cover the landscape. The soundtrack is generic but well orchestrated. The game does also carry an interesting knockoff of Flight of the Valkyries, not to mention a birthday song that might get stuck in your head.

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The two armies battle it out in a third person shooter spanning ten maps and ten game modes. Mean Greens is both blessed and cursed by tying its game modes to maps, not counting those that are released in the future. Presently each map is its own self contained mode, meaning each mode only has one map. While it helps to keep the game simple, it’s disappointing that I can’t play deathmatch in the bathtub, or capture the flag in the toybox.

Out of the ten game modes, most are pretty standard. You have your deathmatch, capture the flag (two takes on it), domination, king of the hill, capture points, and team deathmatch. The rest are inventive takes on existing concepts. One mode is set on a giant foosball table with both teams trying to score goals. Another has one team trying to light candles on a giant birthday cake. My personal favorite, deep freeze, has the two teams battling it out in a freezer environment, using their flamethrowers in a race to melt their dinosaur from a block of ice. The map starts out as a semi-cooperative mode, with both teams trying to melt the same ice cube.

Weaponry is similarly generic, not to mention the game hands you the entire loadout from the get go. Weapons boil down to basic automatic rifle, sniper, shotgun, bazooka, and flame thrower. Each weapon has a rather low amount of ammo that slowly replenishes once you run out, although you’re pretty much guaranteed to die in the time it takes for the cooldown to pass. The plus side of having every weapon is that you’re equipped for just about any situation. The bad side is, that’s not always great in competitive games.

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For every map/mode that takes the winner’s circle, however, there are a few losers. The game modes are fine, in theory, but many fail either in level design or via game mechanics. The fast respawn and the fact that the player immediately starts off with all of the game’s weapons make it difficult for one team to really press on the other, especially in smaller areas. Many of the objective based maps are just ridiculously difficult, bordering unfair. The bathtub level requires players to use slow moving, heavily exposed floating duckies to get flags back to their base. Considering every player spawns with sniper rifles and bazookas, you have to be dealing with a very inept defense for either team to come out victorious. The same goes for Kitchen Run, which has no avenue to flank and generally ends in a no-score match.

There isn’t nearly enough feedback when getting shot, and often times you’re likely to not realize that you’ve been hit by a sniper from halfway across the map because there is no gunshot sound or “thunk” or reaction from your character. Close quarters battles often devolve into bazooka and grenade spam as freshly spawned players walk into battle with those weapons up, throwing away any level of pacing that the game might have achieved.

At the cost of $14.99 (presently on sale for $10), Plastic Warfare is only lacking in players. Somehow the game got saddled with a massive number of dedicated servers (more than I’m willing to count) with only a small number of them populated. I’d also like to see the game open up with more open maps, ones that allow for alternate paths to flank enemies, and support for more players per server.

Otherwise, this is a great game to lose time on.

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