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Broforce

Broforce

Free Lives' action-platformer has escaped the captivity of Early Access and is ready to destroy evil in the name of peace and freedom.

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Broforce has undergone quite a transformation over the last couple of years in terms of presentation, but the core premise remains the same. This is pixel perfect platforming action that pays homage to the action movies of the '80s and '90s, where players cycle through some of Hollywood's most iconic heroes, blasting the crap out of enemy minions as they go. It started life as a free browser game, and has since evolved steadily through early access, and now it's out in the wild and ready for action.

The scenery is pretty much entirely destructible, and your adversaries explode with cartoony extravagance. Each of the "bros" has a couple of attacks, an unlimited primary and a secondary that needs to be restocked, and each is based around the character in question. Indiana Brones, for example, has an unlimited whip attack and a powerful pistol that needs to be replenished (he's actually one of the least interesting characters in the game, thus he's the one we don't mind spoiling, but we won't go into too much detail on this front because unlocking new characters is one of the most enjoyable parts of the game). There's a healthy selection of heroes to unlock, and their attacks are wonderfully diverse, from swords and kung-fu through to machine guns and grenades. Each weapon requires a tactical rethink if you're to get the best out of it; their respective properties are very diverse, and each special attack offers an extra layer of variation.

You unlock new heroes by rescuing them from the cages that are dotted around each level. After freeing a certain number of heroes a new one is unlocked and added to your roster. There's also an immediate benefit to freeing your fellow bros; each time you rescue a new hero you gain an extra life, however, you also switch character to one randomly selected from those currently available to you. This forces the aforementioned tactical rethink several times in any given level. It also pushes the player into making a decision about whether or not they stick or twist, because not all bros are created equal, and some are more suited to a particular mission over their another. If you're progressing well with your ranged bro, do you really want to risk swapping for a more melee-focussed character? Decisions, decisions.

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Levels quickly become increasingly challenging, with hardier enemies in more plentiful numbers, as well as a growing number of environmental hazards. It's easy to initiate tactical explosions, blowing up canisters that start chain reactions, explosions that can take out huge chunks of scenery. It can be very crowded on-screen when the barrels start going bang, and this problem is magnified when playing co-op - not only can it be hard to keep track of your own bro, but when there's two (or more) running around it can be a real headache. It's also quite common to end up being collateral damage to a friend's ill-advised attack. Co-op is fantastic fun for the most part, but frustration can creep in at times due to the aforementioned on-screen confusion. It's also worth noting that we experienced netcode issues on several occasions (thankfully most of the time restarting the game has been enough to fix it).

There's a robust range of modes for players to blast their way through; a campaign to experience (and a leaner arcade version that offers the same levels but with less fluff), local deathmatch, speedruns, and level editing facilities (and thus community generated content). There's a decent range of stages that span a variety of locations, and the environments come with different enemies, whether they be soldiers of varying kinds, mechs, aliens, demons or any of the several bosses that you'll have to conquer from time to time. The aim of each level is usually to blast your way through to the end, shoot Satan, and then make good your escape on a helicopter. It ain't rocket science.

The menus that wrap around this meaty selection of modes have been upgraded over time, and the final offering looks great, with the player taking their chopper around the world before dropping in on combat hotspots to advance the story. The audio is great, and the art style is really easy on the eye, from the pixelated heroes and environments through to the introductory screens that come when a new character or enemy is introduced (though for some reason the game doesn't pause when these menus pop up, and they hang around for a second or two too long, which more than once has caused us to suffer completely avoidable deaths).

Broforce offers the player plenty of explosive action to enjoy, but it does get a little samey after a while, largely because of the amount of testosterone flowing through its veins. That said, it's great fun most of the time and we've been enjoying its very particular delights on and off for some time now, and no doubt will continue to do so looking ahead. It might not be very subtle, but it's definitely entertaining. If you're after something that lets you shoot evil in the face in the name of freedom (and America), Broforce is most certainly the game you've been waiting for.

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08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
+ Lots of homage, satisfying gameplay loop, cool characters and abilities, plenty of content.
-
- Can get a bit confusing in co-op, some netcode issues, gets a little repetitive towards the end.
overall score
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