Developer: Kobojo
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.05
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

For the unlucky few (like myself) who lost significant portions of their lives to Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Mutants: Genetic Gladiators will ring very familiar. But this time, instead of recruiting a team of superheroes to fight evil (and occasionally other supers in PVP), players are tasked with crossbreeding fantasy warriors, undead abominations, robots, and more to compete in a futuristic gladiatorial deathsport for fame and fortune. Yeah, I don’t know how robots and undead are supposed to breed either. It’s crazy futurescience nonsense, just roll with it.

Mutants: Genetic GladiatorsMutants bears the usual hallmarks of Facebook games that eventually crawled their way out of the sludge and onto the App Store. Bugging friends for extra power and attacks? Yup. Upgrades and resource refreshes on timers to bottleneck progress? Uh huh. And of course there are in-app purchases of premium currency. We all knew the answer to that before the question was even asked. And while the game’s overall level may be only mediocre at best, HOT DAMN does it look good while doing it!

Like I said, those with Avengers Alliance experience will find that Mutants feels like pulling on an old, comfortable pair of jeans. Admittedly, these jeans have no pockets. Or zippers. Or belt loops… But the overall fit is the same. By this, I mean that while Avengers Alliance’s combat was by no means deep or overly tactical, it was considerably more nuanced that what Mutants has to offer. The different types (species?) of gladiatorial monsters interact with each other in a rock-paper-scissors manner in terms of being weak or strong to one another’s damage, but that’s about as far as it goes. Each monster only learns two attacks total and and there’s nothing really in the way of lasting status effects or character enhancing modifiers to change up the “hammer the opponent until they’re dead” gameplay. It’s about as bare bones and shallow as things can get.

Mutants: Genetic GladiatorsOn top of the unimpressive gameplay, I also experienced a handful of annoying, repeated glitches. When crossbreeding, the monsters in question become unavailable for an hour or two while locked into the breeding aparatus. Several times I set up a pair and then closed the game out to do something else, only to check in several hours later to find that the monsters were no longer attached to the device and the process needed to be restarted again. Not cool at all.

The only thing Mutants: Genetic Gladiators really has working in its favor is the character designs and art, but it manages to knock them well out of the park. The monsters are rendered in a crisp, bold, and cartoonishly exaggerated style that totally works. Would that these assets had been used to prop up a more engaging game. Obsessive “gotta catch ‘em all” types might find some enjoyment in trying to collect every rare and legendary creature (most of which cost premium currency or need to be won in special events), but even the most hardened Pokemaniac still needs an enjoyable game beneath it all.


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