Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev put aside their differences to team up for a co-operative stealth action game. The result is Reagan Gorbachev; a release that gamers who have a sense of humour and dig retro games will definitely enjoy.
Reagan Gorbachev starts with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev being captured in Iceland by military extremists. Their first objective is to escape the facility that they're being held in. At first, they have a rocky relationship, but over the course of the game they become closer as they explore many different locations, take on a rogue artificial intelligence, and finally destroy a helicopter with a nuclear warhead on it. The '80s sure was a crazy time.
The game is played very similarly to Hotline Miami but with co-operative mechanics. Players control Ronny and Gorby from an overhead perspective while trying to guide them to each level's exit (which is always an air duct for some reason). Reagan takes out enemies with his trusty samurai sword and Gorbachev uses his famous blowgun. What else would you expect? This game stays loyal to history. Players can also pick up a handful of different weapons if they are in need of more firepower. Reaching exits will require the opening of many different doors. Ronald can pick the locks of red doors, Mikhail can hack into green doors, and they can both use keys to open yellow doors and pressure pads for blue doors. Meanwhile, many vigilant enemies will patrol the environments so it's best to make your way through each level stealthily. Enemies will respond with brute force and call for help to ambush you in an instant. Both characters need to make it to the exit and it's game over when one of them perishes.
Reagan Gorbachev's controls are tight and intuitive. Players can run around and pan the camera to see their surroundings. If they sneak up on an unaware enemy's back, they can take him out without even pushing a button. There is one attack button that is used for whatever weapon you have in hand. Players can lock on to enemies and cycle through targets or simply display an aiming reticle if they prefer to keep it old-school. All obtainable weapons are guns of some sort (hand guns, Uzis, shotguns, assault rifles) which is a bit disappointing as it would have been cool to see more diversity. Some unique weapons include silencers that don't alert enemies when fired, bazookas that can destroy walls (very cool), and grenade launchers that can destroy turrets. All of this being said, slashing enemies with Reagan's katana is so awesome that many players will probably stick to that for most of their attacking needs.
The co-operative nature of the game is handled well for both one and two players. When playing by yourself, you can switch between the two fellows or call your partner to meet you by the tap of a button. You can also hold down a button to have your chum follow you. The character you are not controlling will act as a sentry so it's fun to place them in front of a door with a gun in hand then open the door to watch them automatically murder everyone in sight. Playing with two players is quite fun although the screen is split even if your characters are next to each other. It would have been more intuitive to have the screen split only when the characters are far apart.
Players probably won't be impressed by Reagan Gorbachev's graphics but they serve their purpose well. It's easy to distinguish different objects and characters. However, at times it's hard to tell the difference between regular doors being open and closed since both look grey with only a slight difference in appearance. This becomes problematic because if you assume a door with an enemy on the other side is closed but it's actually open then you will probably be spotted and killed. The electronic score sounds like it belongs in a stealth movie but the tracks are too short and become repetitive quickly. Luckily, you can always mute the music from the options menu if you want. Sound effects in Reagan Gorbachev are done very well as audio cues are obvious and using weapons is satisfying. The overall presentation leaves a bit to be desired but there isn't much to complain about.
Short cutscenes play between some stages that mainly consist of Ronald and Mikhail discussing the current situation. These are quite funny considering the ridiculous nature of the events that unfold throughout the plot. Upon completing a level, you are prompted with a trivia question where the answer is either Reagan or Gorbachev. These are fun at first but they start to repeat after a while.
There are many varied environments that the levels take place in. These consist of a prison, lab, factory, warehouse, soldiers' quarters, a military complex, command center, and finally outdoors. Each environment has distinct characteristics that players will embrace as it feels like a new game every few levels. As you progress through the game, the difficulty becomes more challenging although it rarely feels unfair. The learning curve is steep enough to remain challenging and interesting but also makes players feel like they have the ability to take on every challenge that arises.
One thing that takes away from the overall experience is how infuriating the last boss (a helicopter) is. It's not only incredibly difficult but also convoluted as it will take players many attempts to simply figure out what to do. To best exemplify this, I'll say how I personally experienced this boss. At first, I understood how to take out the large amount of enemies that spawn from the helicopter and get the tanks to destroy some walls to expose a couple of grenade launchers that are used to explode some turrets. Even though I understood how to do all of this, it still wasn't easy. Then, overly fierce enemies spawn from the helicopter when it moves to a new location. Taking on these guys made me want to quit as there are a ton of them and they're relentless. I would die frequently here only to start the whole battle again. It could have used a check point at this part for sure. After finally defeating these super soldiers, the helicopter flew away. Where did it go? I ran around for a few minutes only to see it return. When it did, I picked up every weapon I could find and fired at it with no results. Finally, it dawned on me. The bazookas that some of the tough enemies drop must be used to take out the chopper. I was devastated to find that all of the bazookas were out of ammo so I had to start the fight again. Seriously? I did restart and after a grueling battle I fired one bazooka shot into the boss and finally beat the game. Did I feel satisfied? No. In fact, I need a shower.
Reagan Gorbachev is a very fun game that mixes overhead action and stealth with co-operative elements well. Although it has quite a few minor issues and an infuriating last boss, it's still worth checking out as it can be a lot of fun for one or two players.
- + Tight controls and fun gameplay
- + Co-operative mechanics work well for both one and two players
- + Great sense of humour
- - Graphics are generic and music can get repetitive
- - The last boss can be incredibly frustrating