UTV Ignition Games
Xbox Live Arcade
28th September 2011
Mercury Hg has stormed onto the Xbox Live Marketplace at an unusually low price point of 400 Microsoft Points. Many will see this as a reason to avoid the game, but seeing as this is the newest game in the long running Mercury games franchise, is this game really worth paying out those points for? Are the physics and the puzzles really all they are cracked up to be? You can find out in our definitive review.
Game play = 8/10
If there is one part of the game that Mercury Hg does correct, its the game play aspect of the game itself. The game is a simple physics puzzle game that is easy to pick up and play but it will take a long time to master everything that the game has to offer.
This is mainly though due to the physics of the game itself and not necessarily the level design, the physics help create challenges in levels that would normally be considered easy if it wasn't for the excellent use of it. It's hard to sum up the game play area of the game though as there really isn't a whole lot to judge the game based on, seeing as your main objective is to start a puzzle and then figure out quickly how to overcome the challenges that level has and get to the finish as quick as possible.
At the end of every level though you are granted four different types of medals based on how well you did, and these medals help make up your overall score for the game up until the end, each medal is also worth one point meaning that each level you have the chance to gain yourself a total of four points.
To progress through the game though you need to have unlocked a certain x amount of points, which in turn will gradually start to open up the later levels, to open up the last area of the game though and the last few puzzles you need to have earned yourself a minimum of one hundred medal points, this actually is easier then it sounds.
The early levels are relatively easy and you can easily rack up all four points per a level with ease, and maybe the possibility of actually having to go back and restart the level to maybe pick up one medal you may have missed.
The medals are based upon the following areas, you get a point for each level you complete meaning you will always be granted at least one, you also get one for finishing a level above a set amount of mercury that you still have left by the end of it.
The third medal is awarded to you by rummaging around the stages and actually managing to get all of the collectibles that are scattered around, there are normally less then 6 per level so you won't have all that many to find which will please many gamers, and the final award or medal as I have been calling them is based on the time that it took you to complete the level. This is probably single handily the hardest medal to actually get consistently throughout the whole game, some levels will require you to complete them in very fast times.
As you can see this is by far one of the more convoluted puzzles
The game itself offers four different modes and each has a slight twist on it compared to the others, below you will be able to read what each mode is and what it is that you have to do in them.
This is where the player will be taught the very basic functions of the game, how to move your mercury blob around the level all the way down to how to actually play your own music through the game. There are only a few levels that teach you how to play, but the levels that are included here will easily tell you everything you need to know and set the gamer up to go ahead and try the rest for themselves.
Discovery Mode is quite easily the bread and butter that this game is based around with sixty levels to work your way through you will be spending the majority of your time here, this is also the mode where you will need to collect all of the different medals/awards to carry on progressing towards the end of the game.
Whilst this mode does start off relatively easy and stay that way for much of the game, you will find that the second half of the game you will need to keep replaying past levels to earn extra progress towards those medals that you may still need.
Challenge Mode is all about replaying some of the levels you have played in Discovery Mode but under certain restrictions, for example the first set of challenges include that you must complete three levels but they must all be completed with one hundred percent of your mercury still in tact, and be done in under ninety seconds whilst picking up twelve pickups around them.
It is a nice mode to include which also pads the game out a little bit more but adding those sort of restrictions to past beaten levels may seem like a chore to some gamers.
Bonus mode is a nice addition to the game modes that are included in the game, it offers a unique twist in the game where players still need to navigate around a level and solve the puzzles to escape, but the player will start off as a small mercury blob that needs to go around the level finding vials of mercury to make the blob the biggest it can get.
Not only this though but if you somehow manage to slide your blob of mercury ever so slightly off of a level, and actually manage to lose a part of it, the game will instantly fail you and you need to redo the whole level again.
Whilst these twists are a nice addition on some of the later levels you will find yourself getting easily infuriated as it can become such a pain to get around the level whilst keeping all of your mercury intact. At least your not timed on this mode though which is good.
For when one blob just isn't enough!
Graphics = 7/10
At a first glance of Mercury Hg or even watching one of the trailers that have been unveiled prior to the games release, many people criticised the way Mercury Hg looked, notably that it didn't look amazingly graphical.
Now the thing with Mercury Hg is, is that your supposed to take the game for what it is, its not trying to win the awards for prettiest looking game of the year, its trying to be both simplistic and minimalistic whilst offering the player the chance to experience some nice little touches to the level design.
So lets start off with what you, the player will be playing as. And quite simply put you are going to be playing as a blob, and that blob is a silver blob of mercury that you obviously have to move around the stage. The mercury is metallic silver but that can be transformed into different colours as you progress through the game.
Whilst looking at a blob on the screen may not be riveting to say the least, what they have managed to do with the Mercury is pretty cool to say the slightest, using NVIDIA physX they have managed to add some pretty nice physics to the mercury blob, whether it be rolling around the levels colliding with various things, or even separating the blob, it all looks really nice and actually works really well.
Mercury Hg's biggest attraction though is the fact that the levels will all move and jiggle about whilst your playing the game and listening to the music, depending on the type of music it is and the beats, will depend on how much the level will jump up and down slightly. Not only this though but also the background design with the visualizer effects actually looked really nice and well presented. It adds a little extra something to a nicely conceived package.
The actual blob of mercury itself will also get in on the action and if you sit around for more then a second you will even notice how that will shuffle up and down in time to the beat of the music, again all of this really sets off the attention to detail when it comes to the graphical aspect of the game.
Whilst it isn't the prettiest looking game though as stated before in this area, what it does offer is more then sufficient especially for the price of the game to begin with.
Whilst remaining simplistic, this game really is easy on the eyes
Sound = 6/10
The sound in Mercury Hg is rather hit and miss if the truth was told, there are only a select handful of tracks that are already on the game, and some of the tracks then aren't even worth giving a listen to, this is such a shame really because with not a whole lot of other sound experiences going on within Mercury Hg, it feels like a lot more could have been done or even more tracks could have been added to the mix.
Things aren't all doom and gloom though when it comes to the sound department in the game, this is down to the fact that the game will actually use the Xbox 360's ability of storing music on your systems hard drive and incorporating it into the main game.
With the developers giving the player the ability to add there own tracks to the game, this helps the player to steadily work there way through the puzzles listening to music at a tempo they would rather listen to then listening to the few tracks the game has to offer. Add this to the fact that no mater what sort of genre of music you are listening to, the games world or in game levels will all automatically adapt to the beat, and things will start to look really nice.
As stated at the start of this section, there are very few sounds in the game, but the ones that are in like the squishes of the Mercury as you go head on into a wall are all nice little touches, but again this is an area that could have been improved.
The periodic menu style system in action
Difficulty = 6/10
Mercury Hg isn't a difficult game in any stretch of the imagination, the game is actually relatively easy as long as you take your time and actually have a browse around the level as your playing.
The only thing that does make the game slightly tricky is the fact that in Discovery Mode you get medals based on different things, now if you want to get all four medals in one run your going to need some skill and this is where it starts to get difficult.
Don't let that put you off though, if you do decide you want to go for all four medals then its normally easier to do the stage in two or more runs for example going for Time and Completion medals first, then Mercury Left and Collectibles second. It is possible though to get all four medals on a lot of the stages with ease, especially after you have picked up on the dodgy controls to begin with.
Now whilst the game may be easy, it's important to now stress that, especially in discovery mode, the later you progress into the game the harder it starts to get. In group five of discovery mode in particular the courses will look and feel more complex then ever, but as long as you take your time and really take the time to figure out the best route then the courses will be easily doable still.
The hardest mode in the game though has to go to the Bonus Mode as whilst you are navigating the courses and picking up Hg vials if you lose any of your Mercury, the level will automatically end. And just like Discovery Mode the later stages will start to get harder and it will be a whole lot easier to lose even the slightest bit of Mercury thus causing the level to end and a restart needed.
All in all though with time and perseverance the games difficulty really isn't that hard, compared to other puzzle games on the Xbox Live Arcade this is one of the easier ones, which will relieve many gamers.
A nice and easy puzzle for you all to see
Achievements = 6/10
The achievements in Mercury Hg are all strangely straight forward to obtain, but the catch is that you will have to put in some serious time and effort to gain all twelve of the achievements.
Like most other games that feature achievements now, you have your straight forward game progression achievements, which will add a nice fifty gamerscore to your total for playing Discovery Mode. If you beat all of the levels the game has to offer you will also get another thirty gamerscore taking your total tally up to eighty gamerscore for Discovery Mode alone.
Whilst playing through Discovery Mode though and earning the medals you will not only be making progress towards your Awesomium achievement for earning all of the medals in Discovery Mode but you will also start unlocking all of the Challenge and Bonus levels which will add an extra two achievements to your score.
If you can then go on to beat all of the challenge maps and bonus levels then you wont have a lot left to achieve in the game, apart from earning the one odd ball achievement in the game which is for playing your own music whilst playing a level.
You could of course always download and play against a ghost which will gain you the final achievement in the game.
To get everything in this game as I said it is all fairly straight forward but because it sounds so easy, don't take it for granted. It will still take even the average gamer a long time to obtain all of the medals in Discovery Mode.
Mercury Hg has debuted onto the Marketplace at a more then reasonable price of 400 Microsoft Points, now many gamers will look at that price point and think that the game is either short on content or not very good, but truth be told this game contains hours and hours worth of content and its actually a rather enjoyable experience, it may not have the production values of other games and it may not be as pretty looking but when it comes down to the game play, this really is a definite trial run game.
If the game does ever drop to 200 Microsoft Points then I would say defiantly buy the game, it's just too much of a hidden gem to miss up the chance of playing even at the price point of 400 Points.
Overall: 7.0/10 Good