Reviews

Mercury Hg – Review

Xbox Live Arcade Title
Price: 400MSP
Publisher: UTV Ignition
Developer: UTV Ignition

Thank you to UTV Ignition for providing a copy of the game for review.

There have been some pretty bland lead characters in video games; some just lack personality, others simply just have unlikable personalities, but Mercury Hg’s lead character might just take the prize for the most quiet, personality lacking hero to ever slime his or her way across a board. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the hero of Mercury Hg; a blob of mercury, whom I happily nicknamed Jim. Ok, so I admit that calling it a lead character is a bit of a stretch, but  considering you’ll spend the entire game guiding it around the levels I stand by my utterly terrible attempt at humour.

The goal is a simple one; you need to guide your blob of mercury from one end of the level to the other by tilting the entire world using your bird’s-eye view. This style of control demands a level of precision as your blob can slide around considerably if you happen to be going fast and try to take a corner a little to quickly, either losing some of its mass over the edge, thus scoring fewer points in the end, or sending the entire blob flying into the void, never to be seen again. And yet being too hesitant with the controls will usually result in you failing to complete the level in time or your blob simply sitting still, making you look like a right bloody idiot. It’s a brilliant method of control, making levels a tense display of precision and skill, or stupidity depending on how bad you are. Each of the levels in the games main Discovery mode come with  Atoms that you can earn by completing  objectives based around time, keeping your mercury blob intact, collecting items around the level and your overall score on the level. Earning Atoms unlocks more levels to play, meaning more fun for you.

Completing a level displays two leaderboards, one showing your time and the other the score, demanding that you replay the levels in an attempt to beat those random virtual people who you’ll likely never meet in your entire life. Replaying the levels becomes addictive as they’re short and sweet, allowing you to easily memories them and focus on simply getting the best run you can. To help you get better times or just provide some stiff competition you can import ghosts of opponents into your game to race during the levels.

A variety of obstacles and puzzles are thrown into the path of your blob to try to make your simple goal more challenging. Color coded areas and triggers play a large part, demanding that you guide your blob to the correct area to get it colored correctly so you can pass through the area or activate the trigger. Others will need a type of color that requires you to split your blob and get each piece colored before reforming them to create the required color to advance.. Other obstacles include magnets that can throw you off the world or simply drag you across the terrain, while other worlds have the ground build up right in front of you, forcing you to quickly react to the direction changes. At other times the game will have you moving both your blob and other objects on the level, or navigating various different types of terrain. There are plenty of other obstacles thrown into your path to keep things feeling interesting, though there is the feeling that more could have been done with the concept, after all the possibilities with a magnetic liquid are huge. Still, the levels are generally very well thought out, mostly favouring manual dexterity of puzzle solving skills.

But even though controlling your blob does require a good level of precision to nail a good time and the obstacles on offer are interesting, the game doesn’t really challenge you in any real way. Most levels can be blitzed through on the first go without any real problems.

Outside of the main Discovery mode are two other game types to try to grab your interest. Challenge mode, as the name implies, takes the gameplay of Discovery and challenges to you to complete several levels while completing certain goals, such as no losing any Mercury or collecting a set amount of objects. These levels certainly challenge you more than the main game, though I doubt anybody will find them overly tough.

The second mode is Bonus levels that you unlock during your mercury moving antics in Discovery mode. This cunning mode has you collecting vials of mercury from around the level, with each vial increasing your overall mass. To complete the level you must not only collecting all the vials but also finish with 100% of your mass. Tight levels designs and a lack of walls make this mode a challenge of precision, demanding careful navigation to make it to the finish.

The presentation is also fantastic, featuring a simple clean look to each level combined with vibrant colors. Even the menus are well designed, using the periodic table itself to choose levels. The game also features backgrounds that react to music, and using your own music imported from your hard drive is encouraged, causing the world to pulse with color and movement. Using your own music is definitely preferable as the music on offer is mostly dance and techno music which quickly becomes old, though I have no doubt that lovers of such music will be pretty happy.

But Mercury Hg’s biggest strength comes  in the form of how hard it’s going to hit your wallet, or rather how little it’s going to hit. At just a measly 400 Microsoft Points this is a cheap game compared to the vast majority of other titles on offer in the Marketplace. Combined with the simple but fun gameplay it makes Mercury Hg a steal, and the perfect game if you’re on a tight budget.

There’s little more to be said regarding Mercury Hg; it’s a simple concept that should appeal to anyone who loves to replay levels to get the best scores and leaderboard positions. For everyone else this is an enjoyable physics based game that’s quite relaxing, allowing you to spend a lazy evening or two guiding your mercury blob across the world.

The Good:
+ The clean graphical style.
+ Simple idea that works well.
+ Challenge mode and the Bonus levels are good fun.

The Bad:
– Feels like more could have been done with the concept.
– Losing my blob over the edge 🙁

The Scores:

Graphics: 9
It’s not pushing any technical boundaries, but it doesn’t have to. The clean style with vivid colors makes it look brilliant.

Sound: 7.5
The techno and dance music becomes old quickly, though the ability to import your on tracks and have the background react to the music is a nice touch.

Story: 0
This is your mercury, try not to lose it.

Gameplay: 8.5
A simple yet satisfying concept that feels like it could have had more done with it.

Lifespan: 7.5
There’s a fair wack of levels and offer with plenty of replay value, but only for those that like to compete for the best times and scores.

Overall: 8
Summary: A simple little physics game that’s fun and relaxing to play, and at such a cheap price it’s well worth checking out.

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