Playing In Plastic Is Fantastic – The Mean Greens Review (PC)
Virtual Basement’s (Ark- Survival Evolved) latest game, The Mean Greens, does what a number of bigger games fail to do. While it may sound like some kind of Vegan juice drink, The Mean Greens is charming title that showcases vast amount of potential from a young developer.
The core concept is the classic battle between Green and Tan toy soldiers. Those little pieces of plastic, vaguely human shaped, that has entertained generation after generation. In this case, we’re no longer using imagination to act our play wars, we’re directly playing. From the outside, The Mean Greens looks like a cookie cutter third person shooter, and that’s partly right. The true star of show is not the gameplay, but the maps.
The Mean Greens is about as accessible as you can get. Simple third person shooting, no classes or perks. Variation comes in the form of different weapon types, allowing players to engage from what ever range they wish. It all works well, even if it can lead to some slight sense of repetition creeping in.
Virtual Basement have a clear vision of what they waned to The Mean Greens to be. Map design and concepts reflect the exact vision and themes that were desired. Each map is set in various parts of a typical house. Kitchens, table tops, bath rooms and even the fish tank. It’s nice little throwback to all the typical places we’d wage plastic warfare as children.
Each map has it’s own unique objective, from the classic to the crazy. Be it Free-for-all deathmatch or capture the flag, The Mean Greens puts a twist on it. The most notably of twists comes in the shape of the bubble bath battle for flags. Players are tasked with collecting flags dotted around a bath tub full of floating rubber duckies, with a giant octopus occupying the centre of the tub.
There’s also a play on foosball table in which players battle to push the ball into the opposition goal. Each and every map oozes with character and charm. It’s the little touches that go along way. From the popping of bubbles in the sink, to the haunting yet oddly catchy rendition of Operation Birthday’s ‘Birthday Cake’ song, it’s hard no to smirk when playing.
Presentation forms a key part of the experience. In order to get that true feel of playing with toy soldiers, the visuals have to be on point. It’s a testament to the craftsmanship and care shown by Virtual Basement that the game looks beautiful. The soldiers look amazing, almost to the point you swear you could pick them out of the screen. Environments blend real life elements and colour pallets similar to films like Toy Story, resulting in some brilliant imagery. Each maps has it’s own distinct look, feeding into the concept that this is what you used to think of when you were a child, army men in hand.
The Mean Greens only real issues come in the shape or some sever connection issues and the odd bit of balancing. Within a period of 4 hours, a number of disconnections from sever occurred once the match had ended. This issue was mentioned a few times in the in-game chat, suggesting it’s far from isolated cases. A minor niggle comes in the shape of hit detection and satisfaction. There’s times in which weapons feel like they should be hitting the target. Headshots tend to feel part luck more than skill. It gives the gunplay a touch of being rather floaty instead of satisfying.
Weapon balancing could use some work. One of the six weapons, the bazooka, is hugely overused by nearly every player in the game. The overuse of the weapon results in a number of modes becoming nothing but bazookafest, rendering other weapons slightly pointless. Additional weapons may be on cool down, but the regularity of death and respawns means you’ll be a victim of a rocket extra 30 seconds.
As a whole package, The Mean Greens is an admirable release. With 10 modes, 10 maps, 6 weapons and voice chat, it puts EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront to shame. Code Virtual Basement can be proud of what they’ve produced. It may not be packing all the fancy tricks and frills of other multiplayer titles, but it sure is packed with charm and sheer enjoyment. For less than £12, it’s hard not to recommend The Mean Greens, even more so as a nifty Steam stocking filler for Christmas.