Guns, Biceps, Bullets. Non-Stop Action segments without those lame “Talky touchy-feely” sentimental moments that infest so many Motion Pictures. Broforce is a story about Bros. Equally in that sense of “Do you even Lift Bro?” as much as that American Action Movie “Band of Brothers” sense of Bro.
You start off in a Choppa…
The core premise of Broforce is that of a 2D Shooter Platformer starring caricatures of American Action Heroes throughout the years, with very nearly every square inch of its detailed Pixel Environments being Destructible. So you may MacBrover your way under and around the enemy as readily as ripping through them. For instance, Brodell Walker the Texas Ranger will Shotgun his way through the Evil Terrorist hordes, occasionally calling in Red and White and Blue airstrikes upon his Freedom hating foes. If I had to coin a term for the Tone of this game, “Maniacally Patriotic Sociopathic Hyper Masculinity” would probably be a good one. It’s a Bloody Hilarious good time, though also a somewhat crude game bound to ruffle some feathers. Thankfully it all comes from a good place, and Broforce is an especially Affectionate Parody of American Cinematic Tradition.
Gameplay And Loop
Broforce isn’t a Complicated game to explain. If you’ve played any 2D Shooter Platformers like Contra, you’re already halfway there. You’ll start on the left, work your way to the right, kill enemies and Rescue Hostages for Extra Lives. This last bit is where Broforce starts throwing its curveballs.
For instance, one hit kills you, and you’ll always respawn as a different Character, as a different randomly selected Bro, provided you have an Extra Life in stock. Similarly, you’ll automatically and randomly change Bros whenever you Rescue a Hostage. So apart from certain Solo missions, you’ll never be able to choose your character. Another advantage to Rescues is how they are used in unlocking new characters after you collect a set number of Hostages. The number of Rescues between unlocks increases with each successive unlock.
You have Designated Buttons for your Primary Attack, Secondary Attack, Running, Jumping, Melee Attacks and you have a button set aside for Flexing and Posing with the Right Shoulder.
An advantage to this Simplicity of Control in Broforce is how well it highlights the quirks inherent to each Bro. It takes only a few moments to get to grips with how most Characters work. For instance, MacBrover throws Dynamite. It goes Boom. His secondary attack throws a giant Turkey Bomb. And it goes Boom too but attracts nearby enemies salivating over what is sure to be their Last Meal. For a character based on MacGyver, MacBrover is a rather straightforward dude with much more Flexibility to their Morality than his Inspiration. His Playstyle forces a player to be less direct than they might be with most other Bros, and he excels at digging through blocks.
And when you, playing as MacBrover Rescue somebody, you might get Commanbro. Commanbro fires Rockets. They go Boom. His Secondary attack fires a bunch of Rockets. They all go Boom but very quickly and in succession.
Since these two examples deal hefty damage to the Environment with their attacks, you may need to get creative with your Platforming. Wall Jumps are essential to progress in this game, as is the use of the Run button for getting across larger gaps. On the other hand, Enemies don’t have such an easy time hopping all over like you do and most certainly take lethal Fall Damage. So you’ll quite often discover destroying the Floor beneath an Enemy might pay off much better than shooting the enemy directly.
All this Mobility and the ability to deform the Terrain however you like, you’re gonna need it. The game can feel pretty harsh, especially given how abrupt your Deaths will inevitably feel when some small fry lands a lucky shot on you. Broforce is a Retro Styled experience that really does remind me of Contra and other Run and Gun games.
Normal and Hard are the primary modes of play, they don’t have too much separating them.
Both modes, for instance, have all Bros taking only one Hit before dying, regardless of Difficulty.
Enemy reaction time is reduced significantly however between Normal and Hard. So you’ve got less of an opening whenever you’re trying to get the jump on one. Still, I did play through the game on Hard to Completion and it was only about as hard as Megaman 2. I didn’t even try to complete IronBro, a mode that opened after beating the game. It has you play through the game with only one life for each Bro, adding up to about 30 Lives to clear the entire game on.
Definitely not something I wanna try for since one of my only complaints is a lack of Balance.
Some Bros are much better suited for a situation than others, and it was a common issue that I’d die and die and die until coming around to having the right Bro for a job in order to have a decent chance of success. I never got so frustrated that I started Suiciding until getting a more fit character, but I can see a lot of players doing that.
CoOp exists with Online as well as Local Play, but I have no friends and so apart from a brief stint with my elderly father, I can at least say it all works and is very fun, much like the Main Game. VS Mode exists and works well too, with a random selection of 5 Bros available for two players to select from to use for murdering one another. The Brominator is notably absent from the available Roster here due to his Secondary Attack turning him mostly Invulnerable for a time.
Crude, Obnoxious, Hilarious and Gorey. It’s Pixelated Mayhem with an accompanying Metal soundtrack that seems to Parody Action Film Musical Tropes as often as playing them Straight. That said, it’s quite a nice OST that I’ll probably try and snag for myself. Great Guitar work, though it bears mention that most levels are lighter on Guitar work and heavier on the Drums. Often creating a kind of Pulsing Drums Of War sound. It’s great for creating tension and often playing this game will actually evoke moments of the Films that so clearly inspired the Characters and Tone of the game.
Conclusions and ExpendaBros Spinoff.
My time with Broforce consisted mostly of alternating sequences of Tricky segments of somewhat higher difficulty and halted progress contrasted with Breezy segments of somewhat lower difficulty with quick forward progression. It’s a fun combination and it mixes things up nicely with its Campaign Mode levels.
The Bosses were a definite highlight for me, as was the ability to “Cheat” my way through enemies by tunneling beneath them. Getting through the game wasn’t excessively difficult, but uneven at times due to the immense advantages some Bros have over their brethren. Especially in one segment in which Bro Dredd can take down a boss in one shot that presents a very formidable challenge for the rest. That can render some of the game as feeling like a Luck Based Mission if a player is trying to Speedrun a level.
There exists a smaller Spinoff made in promotion of The Expendables 3 titled ExpendaBros, and it’s free on PC! So try that out first if you’re able and still unsure about picking up Broforce.
It took a while, and a lot of angry screaming but…
Broforce is rugged. It’s rough and rowdy. And it’s a lot of fun to play with friends. If you’re looking for finely tuned gameplay, you probably won’t find it here. But if you’re searching for a Spiritual Successor of Bionic Commando on the NES? This game is definitely for you.
(I should add here, while there were reports by other reviewers of Performance issues in the later levels of the PS4 build, these seem to have been fixed in the time since then. I cleared the game on Hard and never noticed any significant issues beyond one error where the ground vanished one time in hundreds of attempts.)
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Robert Kelly Ball
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