Way back when The Expendables 3 was coming out in theatres, I reviewed a freeware game based on the film. That game was built upon today’s game as a spinoff. Why didn’t I talk about Broforce then? Well it was in Early Access back then. Which meant that the game wasn’t finished. Obviously I can’t review something that is incomplete. But, an exit from Early Access at the end of 2015, and a generous Christmas gift later, Broforce is technically done. Is it better than the free game from awhile ago? Yes it is.
PROS: Over 50 years of action movie nostalgia. Hilarious. Fluid controls.
CONS: Some may find it too repetitive. Insanely difficult bosses.
MISSING: A few noteworthy names.
Broforce is another in a long line of independent action platformers. You’ll be moving your characters from A to B, mowing down enemies, and fighting bosses. Initially you may come to the conclusion that it’s yet another budget title inspired by Contra, Ikari Warriors, and Commando. In some ways, that is a fair assumption. But stick with it for more than ten minutes. Before long you’ll find that it differentiates itself in a variety of ways.
Right out of the proverbial box, the game tells you all you need to know. Broforce is a parody, and celebration of action hero movies. There are references to over 50 years worth of films. Of both the big budget blockbuster, and low budget, direct-to-video B movie variety. The game even references action themed television. Rambo, Robocop, Universal Soldier, and 007 films, are but a mere handful of the properties that see themselves lampooned.
Broforce has a pretty hearty selection of modes considering the kind of game it is. The primary mode is its campaign mode. Here, you will go on 15 missions, each with several stages. Earlier stages give you a handle on the basics, but they quickly ramp up the difficulty. In each stage you’ll also see captives. Freeing the captives is your ticket to unlocking each of the many playable action heroes the game has to offer. This is also the way to score 1-ups. When you lose a life, your next life will be a different character. You’ll never get the same character to show up twice in a row.
After running through a number of stages you’ll face a boss character. These can range from beefier enemies you’ll face regularly in subsequent levels to over the top finales. Unfortunately boss fights are one of the few things in Broforce that might sour some players. That is because a number of them are just brutal. While they do have patterns you’ll eventually figure out, they aren’t intuitive. The first several times you attempt these fights, you’ll find the clues to victory are almost cryptic. You’ll feel very trial, and error at least initially. Once you finally do realize what you must do to win, these fights are still going to be pretty tough.
Beating a mission will take you back to a globe that looks like something out of Minecraft. You move a helicopter around it to go to the various missions. You can do some of these in whatever order you wish, but not all of them. There are also optional missions that crop up from time to time. You really should play through these for two reasons. First, you’ll get gear that can make things a little bit easier for you. Second, these stages require you to learn some of the more advanced movement techniques that game has to offer.
These techniques are almost a necessity when you get to the final leg of the campaign, where dexterity is a must. You’ll need to be able to speed jump, wall jump, and shoot with expert timing. All combined with the basics you’ll learn early on. Each of the characters has three basic moves, and a special. You can jump, shoot, or use a melee attack. Special moves are tied to things they’ve done in, TV or film. Sometimes they’ll be of a better use in combat. Other times in movement. In either situation it’s going to pay to not only master them, but to plan on when to unleash them since each has a limited number of uses.
When you finally do beat the campaign, you’ll find you won’t be done. Because there are a host of multiplayer options, as well as a harder version of the campaign to play through. Ironbro mode allows you one life for each of the action stars you rescue. No continues. No mulligans. If Rambo falls off of a cliff, he’s gone forever. Considering how difficult the boss fights are, you can’t afford to lose a single hero in the normal stages. But that’s not all. Aside from the two campaigns, you have an arcade mode that eschews the storyline. You also have multiplayer, both online, and offline for up to four players. You can play the campaign together, or play competitive modes. The game also includes the level editor used by the developers themselves! There are already countless maps up on the Broforce Community Workshop.
Multiplayer is a lot of fun. Playing locally is especially fun, as it brings back the feeling of gaming with friends. As great as the online options are here, it was nice to see local couch or desk multiplayer included. Playing the game with friends is as frantic as playing Contra or Battletoads with a friend. Everyone will have to try spectacularly hard to stay together, and communicate strategies together, on the fly. The game also lets you drop in or out on the fly.
Playing online means you can either set up a private game that friends can join, or you can hop onto a public game, or host one. Playing privately is probably the best option short of couch play. But you never know who might play with you publicly. In the few games I joined, I found a lot of really skilled players, that made things a lot more cohesive. But being the weakest player in a few of those games, I’m not sure how much I contributed. Either way, it made an already fun game more entertaining. Though I must admit if you get into a group of fairly unforgiving people it could be less so. Fortunately, it’s easy to drop out if you find yourself paired up with anyone you don’t get along with.
Versus modes come in two varieties. The first is a race mode that plays a lot like Giana Sisters Dream Runners. In the sense that you have to make the opponent fall so far behind they’re off screen. Doing this results in a win. But you’re also granted access to your weapons. So you’ll be killing enemies, and trying to avoid calamities the entire time. Some of these rounds can become pretty heated, so you might just want to play the race mode.
The second is a death match mode. Think of it like a combination of Joust, and Duck Game. You’ll run about an on rails scrolling stage, trying to kill each other. There isn’t much else to mention here. It’s nowhere near the depth of the aforementioned games, and you probably won’t get a lot of play time out of it as a result. Community maps help this a bit, but it still isn’t as fun as the campaign. Really, playing co-operatively is the best kind of multiplayer for the game, and it shows.
The aspiring designers out there will also want to stay for the level building tools. Which is surprisingly intricate. You can use any of the game’s built in assets to make stages as simple or as complicated as you wish. You can also upload them to the Steam community. Again, there are hundreds of levels made by fans you can download, and install. So even if you don’t feel compelled to create your own stages, you’ll probably find a lot of ones you enjoy playing through.
Broforce is a wonderful game, through, and through. While the campaign can get a little bit repetitive if you blow through it in a marathon session, it is still a blast. It makes a great party game when you have friends or relatives over. It even manages to be a lot of fun online with very few connectivity issues. It might not look quite as nice as other indie platformers in its league. But it has plenty of charm, and humor. It’s such a good time you probably won’t be bothered all that much. It’s well worth the asking price. If you’re still on the fence you can always check out the Expendabros game. It will give you a good idea of what you’re in for, and costs you nothing. But for anyone who loves action games, and action films, Broforce is a entertaining ride worth taking.
Final Score:8.5 out of 10