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Review: Final ExamMighty Rocket Studios Focus Home Interactive beat em up Steam Final Exam
Developer: Mighty Rocket Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PC (Steam), PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: November 5, 2013
ESRB: T for Teen
This review is based on the PC version of the game
A download code was provided by the publisher for this review
Have you ever heard of a, well, obscure series by the name of ObsCure? Revolving around horrors tormenting a cast of teenagers, the series was always a bit more ham-fisted than frightening. All the same, it drew in a following. This collective audience was pretty mad when Final Exam was revealed. At the time, it was being specifically titled as the next ObsCure game and was no longer a survival horror title. Instead, it was a beat ‘em up! As such, the name was changed and development continued in this direction. Now that Final Exam is out we can see just how it stacks up.
It all begins with a group of characters who are on their way to a high school reunion. Instead of showing up and finding all their old friends, they’re greeted by green oozing and bubbling monsters instead. Players assume the role of one of the high school stereotype characters (jock, nerd, etc) and set forth destroying all the baddies in their path. To what ends? Well, the story isn’t very in depth, but there is a reason to it all revealed in the last few chapters.
The real meat of Final Exam comes in the beat ‘em up gameplay. In either single player, local multiplayer, or online multiplayer, you’ll be fighting copious amounts of enemies. However, it’s not your typical beat ‘em up. Each stage has a series of missions that must be completed. Sometimes this requires breaking specific objects while others task you with moving items to a different area. Regardless of what you’re tasked with, there will be multitudes of enemies regularly swarming around to slow the pace.
This is the main reason that playing the game alone is not suggested. Unless you’ve already beaten it and leveled all up, there’s a lot of effort exerted to kill even average enemies. Each can take a tremendous beatdown before giving up and there always seem to be more monsters ready to arrive. Having two to four partners in game makes completing missions far more manageable. Instead of doing tasks and stopping periodically to fight, you can switch off between who gets monster duty.
Fighting continuously is a pretty dull task which makes Final Exam’s implementation of character upgrades and skills worthwhile. At the end of each mission, players gain points that they can use to spend on upgrading traits or unlocking new abilities. These special skills require the related bar to be filled during play, but the meter fills up pretty quickly. Once some new specials and skills have been unlocked, it makes containing enemy swarms a bit more manageable. Just a bit, though, as monsters still soak up a lot of hits. So, get used to their presence.
For being a beat ‘em up, you would expect Final Exam to have a variety of enemies to encounter. Unfortunately, there are about five in all, with them mostly being split into the camp of neon green bipeds or quadrupeds. There is one main boss type who is encountered at multiple junctions but that’s all. This sad shame in variety of creature types is really weird. They’re not zombies, after all, so why aren’t there more distinct creatures to encounter?
The more you play, the easier it is to realize its shortcomings. While the game has lovely graphics, different specials for each character, a couple weapon types, and a full range of multiplayer options, the gameplay itself just isn’t that compelling. It might be fun to run through once with a group of friends, but that takes 2-4 hours. After that, there’s little reason to return to Final Exam.
+ Co-op modes (local and online) work flawlessly and there are many people playing
+ Interesting cartoon aesthetic gives game distinct look
+ Missions change up gameplay
- Fighting enemies is dull until you’ve unlocked a host of abilities (and even then…)
- Monsters are sponges for damage and are always arriving at the most inopportune times
- Lack of compelling reasons to replay
Overall Score: 5.0 (out of 10)
Final Exam should have studied the beat ‘em up genre further to craft a more engaging experience.
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