July 28, 2023
For a throwback to retro top-down shooters, Mega City Police does a great job of keeping the retro feel. You are on a mission to restore order to Mega City, which is filled with crime. Choosing one of several officers at the station, it’s up to you to fight waves of enemies or fail in the line of action because criminals hit you when you aren’t looking.
Every character starts with their own unique weapon and abilities, allowing them to pursue different playstyles. However, Mega City Police is punishing and requires a lot of dedication to complete. This isn’t helped by some of the weapon balances. But if you are willing to put in the time, you can have hours of fun just trying to clear every stage.
Simple story, great learning curve
There’s no complicated story in Mega City Police. The city has various crime-filled areas and it’s your job to clear them out. You choose from a few starting characters, but unlock more as you make progress. Everyone has unique abilities that help them stand out, which leads to different playstyles. For example, the Rookie gets a dodge boost while the Cyborg can hold up to three weapons.
Utilising a character’s advantage is crucial to your success. Trying to play other characters like the Rookie isn’t smart. Learning the pros and cons will take some practice because your weapons are randomised. Sometimes you dodge a bullet too late or an enemy comes up behind you. Failure is expected as you learn your enemies’ attack patterns and sometimes luck isn’t on your side.
Similar to old arcade games, there’s no need for a detailed storyline. The only information you must know is that every stage is progressively harder and there’s a boss at the end. Each stage is an opportunity to learn because new enemies have different attack patterns. What worked in the first stage isn’t necessarily a winning strategy for the second. This keeps you on your toes and stops you from becoming complacent.
Just like a regular roguelike, you must pay attention and hone your reflexes. It reminds me of an arcade game where you would put in lots of money because you keep dying. Your losses will eventually triumph into wins, which gives you a real feeling of accomplishment.
Lots of toys to work with
One of Mega City Police’s biggest strengths is the variety of weapons. While some characters have different playstyles, everyone can draw from the same arsenal. This means everyone gets the chance to work with a variety of weapons and test them out. You can also come up with creative ways to use weapons that give you an edge over your enemies.
Standard weapons like pistols and shotguns are available, but you also have energy and plasma weapons. Some weapons have continuous attacks while others can bounce off each other. Explosive weapons can damage multiple enemies while melee weapons let you get up close. Every weapon is usable, but some characters will struggle if they use weapon choices that aren’t a good fit.
“It’s always exciting to see what weapon you have to work with. If you don’t like it, there are more options in the future.”
Luck will decide what weapons you get. You have common, uncommon, rare, epic, and legendary weapons. The higher the rarity, the better the weapon. That doesn’t mean common weapons are terrible, but a legendary weapon really makes a difference. Weapons are obtained from yellow loot boxes, but you can also obtain them through other methods. It’s always exciting to see what weapon you have to work with. If you don’t like it, there are more options in the future.
Unfortunately, the variety of weapons suffers from two big problems. One is the bias against melee weapons and the other is the strength of high-rarity weapons.
Close combat is awesome but mostly impractical
Melee weapons are a nice concept because they don’t require ammunition and deal great damage. The problem is that most enemies have multiple ways of hurting you before you get in range. While it’s not impossible to get some success with melee weapons, it’s highly unlikely you get a chance to continue with them.
This is true even if you get legendary melee weapons. Their performance may be amazing, but even a common long-range weapon is often better. It’s difficult to mitigate the weaknesses of melee weapons, which makes it frustrating when you find them. If you run out of ammunition, it’s better than nothing, but you are likely doomed anyway.
It’s a shame because some of the melee weapons look great and they are effective on paper. But using them against bosses and tougher enemies is such a large risk that you might as well not use them.
It’s either purple or orange, and you’re doomed if it’s not
Mega City Police explains the significance of rare weapons, but it doesn’t touch on their skewed balance. The better the rarity, the better the weapon. Unfortunately, this is taken to some large extremes. While you can get by with common, uncommon, and rare weapons early on, it’s unlikely to work well later.
This doesn’t mean it’s 100% impossible to win with common weapons. But there’s a solid chance that if you don’t find an epic or legendary weapon, you won’t meet the final boss. Just having an epic or legendary weapon doesn’t mean you will win, but there’s a good chance.
While roguelikes normally allow you to work with several combinations, you have fewer paths towards success here. It puts a dampener on creativity because a cool weapon just isn’t enough to get you past the next stage.
Play on the highest difficulty or there’s no point
Another mixed bag with Mega City Police is the unspoken need to play on the hardest difficulty. Casual and Classic are your two initial options, while harder difficulties unlock later. But Casual is pointless because it doesn’t grant rewards like Classic does. It makes you wonder what the point of it is.
You can still use Casual as a testing ground for ideas, but it’s easier to use Classic. Even though Classic makes you start from the beginning if you fail, it has better access to rewards. It feels like Casual can’t justify its existence, because as it stands, you go big or go home.
Despite its flaws, it’s still easy to get sucked into Mega City Police. The constant failures make you want to succeed against all odds. You improve as you learn from your mistakes, and the taste of success is worth it. Ensure you have the time to learn the flaws of the game and you can have a good time.
- A variety of characters encourages you to unlock them all
- Easy to pick up and gives you hours of fun
- Lots of weapon types to explore
- Melee weapons are too risky to use
- High rarity weapons are essential if you want to succeed
- There's no point in the Casual difficulty
Mega City Police is a great throwback to the retro top-down shooters of the past. There’s no great story but lots of weapons and combat. You will be spending lots of time learning about each character’s playstyle and what weapons work. The game isn’t perfectly balanced though, as some weapons are clearly better than others. Melee playstyles are unintentionally discouraged and high rarity weapons are must-haves. But if you are willing to spend the time to learn, there’s a good challenge to be had with this game.