I have somewhat of a mixed relationship with ants. Several times throughout university our student digs were invaded by the pests, insistent on living with us, they took a good few months to finally get rid of. On the flip side, they did star in that great Pixar movie as well. The one with Sylvester Stallone in that everyone else hated. It seems me and ants are back on bad terms again, largely in part to MilitAnt.
Developed by Xibalba Studios, MilitAnt is a side scrolling shooter-platformer for the PS4, think titles like Contra and Defender; but you’re an ant that has to jump up things. It’s pretty a pretty simple premise, one that I initially thought would be hard to screw up. I was wrong.
The story is fairly simple, ants are fighting termites, there’s a war over a precious resource called crystallite. You start as the oppressed ant and eventually end up fighting and leading the war against the termites. The whole war is meant to be central to the plot, but you spend most of the time walking past the war happening in the background. There are eight levels in total, with players having the ability to play the game in ranked or unranked modes. I’ll be honest, the chances of playing against your mates for scoreboard superiority are probably pretty low.
MilitAnt is based around a fairly simple mechanic, ants have four arms, therefore you can hold four guns. The freedom to mix and match weapons is nice, though the game locks all of the weapons behind an in-game currency; this means you have to grind to get the more advanced weapons, I have no issue with grinding if the core gameplay is fun. This is the biggest issue though; the game isn’t fun. I found myself often trying to run through levels, completely ignoring the enemies trying to kill me. This is largely due to the poor shooting mechanics, they feel rigid and cumbersome, side scrolling shooters should feel fluid and responsive. There are levels that involve flying on the back of other bugs, these are often the game’s high points as they aren’t tied down by the game's poor controls.
The platforming elements also leave a lot to be desired. Timing jumps is frustrating because the protagonist seems to do whatever they want most of the time. Incoming enemy bullets also stun lock the character, so movement is often frustrating when surrounded by enemies. Most of the enemy projectiles are often hard to judge as well, many of them come from enemies in the distance, not just the 2D space that is visually presented. This is the “3D” element that the developers were happy to describe on their description on the title, in reality it comes down to nothing more than an extra hindrance when trying to play the game.
The boss battles are truly atrocious, and somewhat arrogant in design. Most of them are actually incredibly easy, but the developers decided every boss would be a bullet sponge. Some of the boss battles can be a good 10+ minutes long, which wouldn’t normally be an issue because most games have the common sense to use some form of checkpoint. If you die during a boss while playing MilitAnt, you have to start the whole ordeal all over again – right from the start. The game is plagued by really lazy and basic game design, stuff that wouldn’t have been acceptable 10 years ago, never mind during 2016.
The game doesn’t look great, I thought the choice of insects might have given the developers a chance to design an excellent natural aesthetic. Unfortunately, most of the levels just look flat, really failing to instil any visual excitement on the story. The game looks like a HD port of a PS2 game, one that occasionally gets bogged down by iffy framerates.
I can’t recommend MilitAnt to anyone, I really can’t. It plays terribly, it looks outdated and it just feels cheap as a product. Do you remember those terrible CD Rom games that used to come free in cereal boxes during the early 2000s’? This feels on par with them. Don’t play MilitAnt, it’s fucking atrocious from start to finish.
MilitAnt (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
The score reflects this is broken or unplayable at time of review.
MilitAnt is offensively bad, it looks like a PS2 game and plays like something a few amatuer developers cobbled together. This wouldn't be an issue if there wasn't a price tag involved. Steer well clear of this.