M.U.S.E., a third-person shooter developed by Lab Rats Studio and published by Ayopa Games, is now available from the app store. Falling face-first into a number of action clichés and been-there, done-that gameplay, M.U.S.E. fails to live up to our expectations.
- Nice variety of detailed, destructible environments
- Upgradeable main character
- Adrenaline mode and point combos up the excitement
- Crashes less frequently since latest update
- GameCenter integration for achievements to earn
- Game is still unstable
- Overall feel is unpolished and outdated
- Aiming controls are too twitchy, leading to too much readjustment to actually enjoy playing the game
Playing as Sid Tripp, the prototypically beefed-up and adrenaline-fueled action hero with a tragic backstory, your mission is to defeat Psychosis, your evil archnemesis bent on world domination through cyborg force. Destructible environments can be used to your advantage when taking down enemies at a distance, with detonating barrels doing a good deal of damage to anyone unfortunate enough to be standing nearby. Both you and your enemies have plenty of locations in which to take cover, but this doesn’t guarantee your safety, either. You’ll want to keep on the move to stay alive. However, given the simplicity of the enemy AI, you’ll likely have their patterns memorized before long, allowing you to anticipate their vulnerabilities and strike when it’s safest. This is key, since health replenishments are fairly hard to come by. Speed bonuses and combos for destroying tons of stuff will earn you points that can be converted into credits to obtain character and/or weapon upgrades that make you even more dangerous.
Graphically, the environments show nice variety and some decent detail, but they overall feel very dated. We got a very strong Duke Nukem-vibe while working through the levels, which would be a compliment if this were the early 90’s. The UI could certainly use a bit more polish, as the buttons and such feel somewhat tacked on. We did appreciate the enemy outlines when in adrenaline mode, making it easier to pick out and pick off the baddies. The audio is average, but it doesn’t do much to pump up the gamer or enhance the overall experience. Controls utilize an invisible joypad for movements and fire and roll buttons on the right. There are also buttons to crouch behind cover and lob grenades at the enemies. Weapon switching and reloading are available for your on-the-fly needs. As with most of these titles, we were so focused on attacking that the roll button could have been absent with little to no detriment to the gameplay, and we didn’t often find ourselves using the adrenaline needle, either. The stickiness of the aiming controls were the most frustrating aspect, as your reticule would jump all over whenever we touched the screen, leading us to spend more time fine-tuning our sight line than eradicating foes.
Replay value is low, as the whole experience just doesn’t capture us and leave us with the desire to come back for more. The crashing issues that had plagued a number of devices and prevented us from reviewing this title until now have largely been fixed with the recent update, though pointing to “doesn’t crash as much” as one of the game’s high marks doesn’t bode well for it. GameCenter integration does allow for the collection of 20 achievements. A universal app for $5.99, M.U.S.E. doesn’t live up to the hype, receiving a lackluster 3-Dimple score.