Gameplay: 4/5 Reminiscent of the game Achievement Unlocked, you'll be playing this game from the very first second. I'm a big fan of distorting the player's sense of what the game really is. Oddly enough, half of the game is played in menus (When we're talking about the metagame, that is). You'll be spending your money to upgrade everything from the games graphics to the menu buttons themselves. Since this is actually a big portion of the game, I had to be lenient on the (shooter) game itself, which is bland and derivitave. This can be overlooked, as you're building the game itself and making it better. Which is really satisfying.
Visual: 5/5 Since one of the upgradable things in UPGRADE COMPLETE! is Graphics, I had to give this game high marks in this category. As you progress and spend your money on the game's graphics, it feels like you're walking through video game history. You start with an 8-bit classic look and progress up to fully animated explosions and clouds. In the first stage of graphics, I gave the nod of approval to the "Pacman's better" comment in the vinyl-wooden frame. Even the menu gets spiffy new graphics as you update and upgrade it. This was where the game really shined through to me.
Audio: 3/5 Guitars, drums, keyboard. It's all the same music loop, really, and can easily get on your nerves after about the 5th time through. UPGRADE COMPLETE! has a mute button, but (Sticking true to the game's nature) you have to buy it. It's $900, and well worth it. If you want full game completion, you'll have to buy both sound and a mute button anyways. It's one of those moments where you're wondering why you spent so much money on a crappy music loop just to buy a button to shut it off. You buy the sound effects at the same time, so you can't mute them seperately. On any account, I was more confused than anything when it came to the audio, but you've gotta stick to the concept, which is really what this game is about. Maybe they should've added an "Upgrade Music" feature and by the time you finished upgrading it, you'd get a symphonic orchestra complete with Robert Plant on vocals.
Difficulty: 2.5/5 Hopelessly easy at best, UPGRADE COMPLETE! really lacks here. Yes, I know you're all caught up with the metagaming and building your game up from the ground, but when it comes right down to it, the game itself is hopelessly bland. Let's face it: UPGRADE COMPLETE! is amusing and interesting at first, but by the time you're upgrading the copyright material, it becomes a chore. Shooting ships again and again (With no penalty for losing, mind you) gets to be this routine that you recycle for about an hour, until you're done. Still, I reiterate that this whole "experience" itself is fun and makes you look at gaming in a new light, but when it comes to shooting the same old ships to get the same old money to do the same old things, you lose interest fast. Especially when you're just playing wave after wave to get a fully upgraded ship. Had they incorporated a Difficulty Upgrader or the ability to really alter the game's functions, I'd have given this a much better score. Creating by yourself is simply a thousand times better than upgrading in a path that the game itself gives you.
Overall: 3.5/5 UPGRADE COMPLETE! was a good game, but that's about it. Did I personally enjoy playing it? Yes, I did. Could it have been done better? Most certainly. But when it comes to metagaming, it's always the thrill of the novelty that keeps the players in. Not the content itself, but the ability to know that you're controlling a variable that most players don't get to in standard games. This being the case, I'm sure you'll have fun playing UPGRADE COMPLETE!. Just take it for what it is, and you'll love it.
Kong Score: 4.48/5
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