The title says it all. As hilarious as Broforce looks in the trailers, as ridiculously over the top the various bros, overbearing guitars and the incredibly absurd trailers are (motherf*****g ziplines still makes me laugh, for some unknown reason), this is an incomplete piece of work. That’s game set and match for most. It’s generally a deal-breaker for me; there’s too many games with my hopes and dreams pinned on already, only to have them ruined by the half-baked state they’re “released” in.
And there are plenty of reasons to turn the other cheek, bro. Some of the heroes, all adapted from various movies, comics and games from the 80s and 90s, are woefully underpowered. MacGyver’s broified counterpart has a disgracefully ineffective stick of dynamite as his default attack, which has a much smaller radius than the cruise missiles, Men In Black pistols, miniguns and even shotguns wielded by the rest of the starring cast. Even Mr Anderson’s fists pack more weight.
The campaign, as it stands, is a bit of a mess. It’s never quite explained where you are or what you’re doing; one of the bros is just shipped into an area, expected to liberate it by killing either the Dungeon Keeper-styled demon or a mini-boss at the end of each level (usually a rival helicopter or a tank akin to something you’d see inMega Man).
After 30 or 40 levels, I’m not entirely sure how much further in the campaign I have to go. Am I towards the end? Am I at the beginning? I’ve fought off a few major bosses, which you’d presume would have some relation to something, but even the scenery doesn’t give me an indication of where I am. Just when the colour palette changes – from the Vietnamese-esque 8-bit green to an Apocalypse Now-brooding sunset orange and blues and browns not unlike those you’d find in a Apogee platformer from the 90s – the levels revert to the same colours you’ve been traversing in the eight areas before.
The entire game is controlled via the keyboard and/or gamepad, and many of the features are only accessible through local or online multiplayer. The multiplayer works although it’s incredibly hard to get a game at this stage, understandably so for an Early Access title. And even when you’re running through the campaign in co-op, the constant explosions, gunfire and splatters of blood can make it incredibly easy to lose track of your bro.
But does any of this matter? Not one bloody bit.
As much as some of the bros are largely ineffectual, they’re all instantly recognisable and most of them are, quite literally, a blast. There is a generous resilience in place too where your bros are largely protected from the radius of their own explosion, although it doesn’t extend to secondary explosions triggered by gas tanks, kamikaze troops and fuel barrels.
You can, if you like, ignore the enemies entirely. Outside of the mini-bosses, troops will pause for a second and ponder your presence before responding. This doesn’t include the ferociously infuriating dogs, who bounce around and happily munch on your corpse if the taste of bro flesh happens to pass their lips.
Another alternative is to dig your way to China, so to speak. The ground underpinning every level is almost like Play-Doh with its willingness to crumble to even the most ineffectual attack. You can use this to simply tunnel through the map if you please, or, for the nefarious among us, you can burrow underneath bosses and dig their very own grave.
It’s remarkably silly and equally satisfying, although, perhaps gracefully, the experience doesn’t last very long. Given the amount of leeway offered, I began speedrunning my way through levels, liberating some areas in 20 seconds or less. You can take more time if you stop to free all your other bros, which gives you an extra life by exchanging control of the current hero with the one you just saved.
This is probably the most genuinely frustrating aspect of Broforce, in that you have no control over what bros are saved or what bros you have access to. You’re given a random bro from the arsenal that you’ve unlocked and once you save a fellow bro, control switches automatically. It’s great if you’re trading up to Rambo to Men In Black or B.A. Baracus, but terrible if you end up with a short-range attack when you really need a rocket launcher or some other kind of high-impact explosive.
Nevertheless, there are usually ways around most problems, bosses included. And what’s fantastic aboutBroforce even in this formative stage is that it’s silly enough to still be enjoyable. There is a genuine danger of taking the in-joke too far, becoming the very thing Broforce is trying to parody, but that unfortunate reality is dulled somewhat by the fact that you can blast through levels in a minute or less with little trial and error.
Broforce is missing structure, balancing and a bit of direction, but all of its faults are masked in a crazy mix of nostalgic fanboy explosions. It takes our heroes from the past and transports them into a digital world where they are as incredibly overpowered as we all imagined them to be.
And really, in the end, what more could you ask for?