Online shooters may at times feel stuck in a rut. Shoot the terrorists, jump behind cover, shoot some more, congratulations you have a new hat. Next game, same thing, takes place in a different country. If you are looking for something new, you may be searching for The Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare. Since the Toy Story movies brought the tiny replica freedom fighters back into the limelight, a handful of toy-sized perspective games have been made. Mean Greens brings lighthearted multiplayer action out of the toy box and onto your PC. It isn’t your standard parade of online shooter tropes. There are non-typical objectives, no evil foreigners, and creative party themed maps that are sure to break up the serious shooter blues.
By creating a game from a toy’s perspective, developer Virtual Basement has the liberty to inject some sillier objectives that seem fresh as well as challenging. I was unprepared for some of the differences when jumping into the game headfirst. My first match of Mean Greens had me running around a decorated table trying to light birthday candles on a multi-tiered cake with a flamethrower. Meanwhile enemy soldiers are catapulting themselves off Jell-O mounds trying to stop us. If that doesn’t help describe just how “different” this game is, nothing will.
That was just one taste of how Mean Greens tries to break up the pace when compared to its peers. Keep queuing up matches and you’ll find yourself battling inside a freezer. Jumping over fruity Popsicles, frozen dinners, and ice cream buckets while trying to thaw out your team’s plastic dinosaur before your opponent releases theirs. Capture objective points while riding a toy train around a Christmas tree. There’s an unusual Foosball game mode. Maneuver the ball with your body, or sliding dodge moves to “kick” the giant ball between sliding farm-themed soccer players. Trying to do this and get the ball into the enemy goal isn’t exactly easy. Naturally pesky tan army players will get in your way. What else are you going to do? Use your army style weaponry to mow them down, of course.
Not every game mode is unusual or different. Mean Greens contains your average array of shooter modes. Standard deathmatch, capture the flag, and king of the hill maps are included. While the modes are instantly recognizable, this game tries to alter some known parameters to keep things interesting. Capture the Flag is played in a fish tank with water based gravity and obstacles befitting an aquatic playground. Toy Box Assault features deadly speeding remote control cars and other obstacles into its king of the hill victory requirement. Or be forced to ride in a conga line of rubber duckies towards flag based objectives while defending your toy boat/base from behind some discarded shampoo bottles.
This game may seem childlike and whimsical with its art style and party-based mission objectives, but its gameplay is aimed at shooter fans. There are no weapon or health pickups. Every soldier begins with an assault rifle, 1 grenade, a rocket launcher, a shotgun, and finally a flamethrower. What players need to manage is the cooldown timer on each weapon. The powerful rocket launcher for example, has one shot and then a sixty second cooldown timer begins. Sprinting depletes your toy battery which needs to be recharged before you can evade effectively again. These balance ideas split up tasks amongst players. I would tend to defend my base when I had sniper rifle and rocket launcher rounds available, but charging in offensively with my shotgun or flamethrower while my other weapons recharged.
Currently the game is up to Update 1.05 since its release December 8th. Each update has helped improve the game experience further. The game has seen improved network code, animations, and even player count limits. The developer has added many more dedicated servers for high availability. Initially billed as a 5 on 5 multiplayer game, as of the latest patch 8v8 matches are available.
There have been many good points mentioned so far, but there are some noted flaws with Mean Greens that bear mentioning. For starters it is only an online shooter. There is no single player campaign to extend the creativity seen in the online map design. Animations can at times still appear a little awkward. While lag (which has been greatly improved) can still throw off your shooting. Dying is quite easy, and often you’re dead before you realize where the shots are coming from. At first I thought I was just me, but soon I noticed that running up beside a player and mowing down 3-4 people in a row, there is a lack of visual indicators to cue you towards the dangers right beside you. It felt as if the audio mapping was off causing enemies to get lost in the shuffle (I tested this with 7.1 headphones, 5.1 speakers, and a 7.1 home theater setup with the same results). Sadly while there are so many creative modes, some ideas do not work well, the bathtub level’s slow moving duckie ring is painfully slow and brings the action to a crawl for example.
Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare was developed on the Unreal 4 engine, bringing toy based massacres to eyebrow raising visual standards. Scaling is masterfully handled, your perceptions are influenced at all times into feeling diminutive. Lighting and textures are also slick and colorful and inviting. Each environment has an inviting and giddy festive aspect, further driving home the comical perspective you play from. While limited in scope, depth, and in need of a little more polish, I highly appreciated Mean Greens’ ability to break up the persistent terrorist killing monotony featured in just about every shooter. I can easily foresee this title fitting in between your favorite war games in short spurts. It’s drawbacks are balanced by a low risk retail price making it an attractive recommendation for all FPS/TPS fans.STEAM