Here at EF games have always been a part of our lives and we grew up with the early 8-bit home computers such as the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. Early games were mostly incredibly tough and far less forgiving and accessible than what gamers are used to today.
When we heard about A-Men 2 from Polish Indie developer Bloober Team we were keen to take a look. The team have been telling everyone that A-Men 2 is one of the hardest games you’ll play this year. We’ve never played the first game but love a challenge so decided to see what all the fuss was about.
In the game players take control of an elite Special Forces unit known as the A-Men. The A-Men are on a mission to rid the world of lethal renegade robots called A-Droids. If successful in stopping the robot menace they might just prevent the world falling into chaos and destruction.
The team consists of Aardvark the Spy, Aurelius the Muscleman, Anaconda the Commando, Antler the Engineer and Atom the Private. Each member of the team comes equipped with unique skills that will help them in their mission. For example the Spy can sneak up on droids to destroy them from behind, the Commando can make use of Jetpacks to get to those hard to reach locations and the Muscleman can intimidate and taunt enemies.
The game is set across four different worlds that each contains bigger and more complex levels than the original game did. In total there are 44 levels on offer making the game bigger than the first one as well. The team expect you to take at least 20 hours to complete it.
Your aim on each level is get to a landing zone to escape by helicopter. This is harder than it sounds because the levels are littered with A-Droids and you need to destroy a certain number before the helicopter will come to get you.
Getting through the level requires constant switching between your team members. This is because you need to utilise their unique skills in order to progress. For example the Spy can wear a hat that allows him to walk past enemies unnoticed. The Engineer can activate elevators and build structures while the Private can use weapons to destroy A-Droids and activate traps.
The team switching works well and we like the way each member has unique skills. This forces you to think about how to tackle the next obstacle. To make things more difficult the levels are purposely designed to catch you out. For example a switch that the spy can use will be in view of an A-Droid patrol or a slope will slide you straight into the enemy. One thing that will get you killed over and over again is that you can only fall one level as higher drops mean instant death. You can also use this to your advantage though to kill enemies.
You might have heard the term rage-quit, which is when a player quits out of frustration, but never done it yourself while playing a game before. A-Men 2 will change that as it gets its difficulty from constantly catching you out, killing you and putting you in unrecoverable situations. Pretty much the only way to guarantee progress is to learn why you died or failed on your attempt and then don’t do the same thing on the next one.
It basically ends up being a game of trial-and-error instead of requiring skill. This leads to a very frustrating time indeed and you’ll constantly die by making the same stupid mistakes over and over again. In some ways it’s also a memory test as the longer levels require concentration and timing to get things right. A single mistake is usually enough to ruin your attempt and put you back to the start for another go.
While difficult games are a draw for some people we just found A-Men 2 to be too unfair. It’s usually obvious what you need to do but the game wants to punish you. The worst thing is when you do something wrong and there is no way to rectify the mistake. You might fall into an area too soon and then be unable to climb out or waste your very limited bullets on something leaving you with no way of activating a mechanism that you need to progress.
There are a few save points to try and help ease this frustration but activating them requires points. You can only obtain points by getting rid of the A-Droids so not having any points can leave you unable to save which is annoying. Something else which is really annoying is the voiceovers as the characters constantly try to say funny things. Most aren’t very funny at all and eventually you get sick of hearing them.
Sadly A-Men 2 is ruined by trying to be difficult and funny which just leaves you with a rather frustrating experience. The best way to play it is in short bursts, tackling a single level at a time. If you like hard games you might get some satisfaction out of beating it but most players will give up a long time before they see the end.
A-Men 2 is out now on PSN and PS Vita priced at £7.99.