HIGH The first time an Alien crawls out of the ground and savages a terrorist.
LOW Getting a bad draw of characters against the final boss… six times in a row.
WTF I almost feel bad about completely slaughtering everything as the Predator.
Aggressive in its simplicity, Broforce steadfastly refuses to do anything but offer hyperbolic one-hit-and-you're-dead gameplay. However, its success comes not from providing a fantastically well-balanced 2D shooter experience, but by understanding the length of the average shooter fan's attention span. This a short game, but it's also a game without any padding or phoned-in levels designed to meet an artificial dollars-to-playtime ratio.
The side-scrolling action of Broforce is broken up into three sections. First there are the game's main levels, in which the titular Broforce fights the most generic terrorist threat imaginable—muscle men in ski masks, who apparently hail from a nation with a long and storied tradition of taking steroids and madly waving AK-47s around.
The final section take place in Hell for the one-on-one fight with Satan that Broforce promises by having Satan standing next to each level's victory flag.
The middle section is by far the most interesting, however—and I'd carefully avoid spoiling it here if the game's trailer and official screenshots hadn't already blown the lid off of this amazing surprise. Once the terrorist threat has been beaten into submission, the game is invaded by the xenomorphs from Alien, and it's glorious.
After more than a dozen levels of blowing up buildings, using suicide bombers to blow up their friends, and calling airstrikes to blow up absurdly huge tanks, suddenly having acid-bleeding monstrosities crawling on the ceilings of cramped underground locales is an existential shift in what the game is. Suddenly players who've gotten the hang of dancing between landmines have to learn a whole new set of skills, and the melee characters—largely useless for anything but boss fights—are suddenly invaluable for beating back the horde of space monsters.
The new enemies also seem to re-energize the level designers—while the last few terrorist levels run out of creative ideas, each of the Alien levels is a delight, and a great experience that carries right into the Hell-set endgame. Rarely have I seen an action game finish as strongly as Broforce does.
Besides my thrill at seeing the xenomorphs, the selectable character variety is a wonder—drawing their roster of copyright-infringing characters from films as far back as Thunderball and right up to Machete, the developers' love of action cinema is evident. Whether it's Ash from Evil Dead 2 going on a chainsaw dive, the Rocketeer dive-bombing foes, or Kill Bill's Bride slicing through foes, the spirits of their inspirations live on here. In fact, half of the game's enjoyment comes from gradually unlocking all of the Bros, delighting with each new reference, and then perhaps being surprised by how many Schwarzeneggers there are, or by how few Stallones.
While Broforce is certainly great, it's not perfect. The platforming-intensive levels are generally easy to navigate, but the fact that they're almost entirely destructible and can be torn to pieces by hero and villain alike frequently leads to situations where players are forced to start over because the climbing mechanic is too finicky and unreliable.
Another problem is that certain characters are completely useless in given situations, and that the AI assigns characters to the player on its own whims. When complicated, multi-stage boss fights come up, being at the mercy of a random number generator to compose a team can get pretty frustrating. That being said, I was happy to see that a super-strange piece of design from the Alpha version has survived into the final code, and that (PROTIP!) none of the bosses can stand up to MacGyver.
Broforce is a conceptual triumph that could be successfully sold as a jokey bit of nostalgia, but what's truly amazing is how well it works on a moment-to-moment basis. Whether using a gatling gun to disassemble a spawning chamber, raising terrorists from the dead to attack their comrades, or distracting a vicious guard dog with a thrown corpse, there's always some new creative new trick while blasting through levels. The campaign may not be long, but it's incredibly satisfying and works as tribute without ever sacrificing any of its own originality.
Disclosures: This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 4 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 1 time) and 2 hours of play in multiplayer modes and user-generated content.
Parents: This game was not reviewed by the ESRB, but it contains blood and gore, intense violence, crude humour, cruelty to animals. You don't want your kids playing this hyper-violent game. It's non-stop blood and gore, and that's before all the characters take a trip to Hell, where everything is decorated with pieces of corpses.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: There are no audio cues, and not enough plot to worry about missing.