Saturday, 22 September 2012

Mercury Hg review

The Mercury series has been around for a while, but only now has it made the jump to the high definition consoles. Originally released for the PSP, and later the Wii, Mercury stood out from competitors with the amazing fluid physics and innovative puzzles. And now it has hit the digital market. The Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network were made for this type of game, with it's short levels, addictive gameplay and leaderboards with the ability to download ghost replays. So how does it hold up to the amazing original?
The puzzles start off mind-numbingly easy, but stick with it; you'll need all the help you can get. The fluid acts like it should do, retaining it's structure for the most part, but any hard collisions or forks in the road and your tiny blob will split up into smaller parts. What you must also look out for are the paint stations. For the most part, you'll be a silver, chrome blob, but there are some gates that only allow blue or red droplets past. You must hunt down a paint station and roll on through it, transforming your subject into the same colour. It's little things like this that eventually make the game pretty damn hard.

It does get quite difficult, but the learning curve is much smoother than that of the previous titles, and newcomers won't be too frightened by the complex levels and different way of controlling the game. You don't control the mercury, you control the level. Push the stick forward to tilt the level in the same way, and the mercury simply reacts to gravity. It can take some getting used to, especially if you've never played the previous installments, but eventually it becomes second nature. The game will appeal most to fans of Marble Blast Ultra, and even Super Monkey Ball, but the low price tag should draw in a wider range of gamers.
 Collecting the hidden atoms can become addictive

One of the nicest features of Mercury Hg, and one which will probably be ignored by the majority of players, is the ability to play your own music, which in turn affects the levels. Start to play your own tracks and the game becomes an interactive visual, with the backgrounds jumping to the beat, the waves of sound rippling from the mercury, along the floor tiles. It looks great, and is a nice way to enjoy your own music, whilst also affecting the game. It is a feature that is unnecessary, but not in a bad way. It's definitely one of the coolest features.

The controls translate perfectly to the standard Xbox and Playstation controllers, with the left analogue stick controlling the stage, and the right in charge of the camera. They're incredibly straight forward so should cause no problems. The game relies on quick reactions, and a certain degree of luck. It is possible to play the Playstation 3 version with DualShock 3 motion controls, but is it not a good idea. It makes the game much more difficult than it needs to be, and will definitely cause many more rage quits than the analogue stick.

All in all, Mercury Hg is a fantastic little title, and ticks all of the boxes that digital downloads should. It offers quick bursts of fun for an incredibly low price tag, considering games can go for three or even four times the price. It might be a little difficult later on, but the difficulty curve is smooth enough that nobody should be in dire straits. The lack of a level editor is somewhat disappointing, but there is enough core content to keep you busy for some time, plus the two planned downloadable packs. Mercury Hg is hard to fault.

8/10

by Louis Gardner

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