Tagged "Strange Brigade"

Dec 11
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

Of all our yearly features, our look back at games that were overshadowed is easily our favourite to compile. We often champion ‘hidden gems’ on Twitter, particularly when they’re discounted on the digital stores, but here we’re able to discuss them in full.

We’ve opted for six overlooked titles his year, all of which we’ve spent a considerable amount of time with. Honourable mentions meanwhile include the delightfully crass run ‘n gunner Rad Rodgers, frighteningly authentic 8-bit ‘demake’ Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, story-driven detective drama The Council, and the addictive pop culture time capsule The VideoKid.

Also, the very literal Limbo-alike Missing The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories; literal because the protagonist is able to rip off their own limbs to assist in puzzle solving. It’s from Swery65, so you know you’re in for a mind-altering experience.

Strange Brigade

When I was much (much) younger, any action figure playset that housed an ‘action feature’ instantly made it to that year’s Christmas list. Things like Castle Grayskull’s “hidden” trapdoor, or Boulder Hill’s delightful combo of a tumbling plastic boulder and gun turret gas pumps made the toy in question beyond desirable.

As such, Strange Brigade – a third-person shooter set during the riveting 1920s – feels like it was tailormade especially for me, involving trap-filled tombs and ruins.

Like Rebellion’s own Sniper Elite series, it’s a one trick pony that pulls off that trick so spectacularly it’s able to carry the weight of the whole experience from start to finish. To wit: Strange Brigade’s combat focuses on destroying large waves of enemies in one fell swoop. Reanimated skeletons, mummies, and other mythological creatures mostly, thanks to the ancient Egypt setting.

Swarms of enemies can be vanquished in various ways. Firstly, there’s a neat side-line of loud and messy explosives including sticky grenades and packs of dynamite. Temporary heavy weapons are another option, limited in ammo but packing a punch. These vary from a blunderbuss shotgun with a widespread, to a flamethrower with an inescapable reach. Finally, each of the playable characters has an ancient amulet to charge by collecting souls, a la Soul Reaver. One character leaps in the air to perform a ground slam, like a 1920’s Tony Stark, while one of the females has a mighty right hook; an attack amusingly accompanied by the chime of a fairground ‘test your strength’ machine.

Visually, it’s a slick package and Xbox One X enhanced to boot. The overgrown environments are detailed, and the vistas spread far into the distance. It’s not uncommon to want to stop and take in the scenery. In fact, you’re actively encouraged to as optional puzzles and hidden collectables are rife.

While only a few puzzles – which mostly take the form of code-cracking mini-games – put your wits to the test, they still help provide a change of pace, as does a jaunt into an underground pirate cove.

To top it all off, the whole shebang is narrated by a charismatic fellow who makes on-the-spot observations, commenting on your shooting proficiency and general performance. It’s even possible to tick him off by standing around idly.

This is easily the most generous package Rebellion has put together, featuring an online co-op mode and a Gears of War-style Horde Mode with waves that come thick and fast.

Rebellion really gave Strange Brigade their all, which only made it all the more disheartening to see it leave the UK chart in a matter of weeks.

Tempest 4000

We often feel Llamasoft’s games are tailored to suit Jeff and Giles’ own finely-honed arcade skills, throwing new and inexperienced players into the thick of it too soon. Tempest 4000, however, offers an easier ride, regularly throwing a few valuable lifelines your way.

It isn’t until around stage 25, a quarter of the way through, that the difficulty ramps up. By this point, you should be well accustomed to escaping danger at the very last second. The super-zapper smart bomb is recharged between stages, instantly clearing whatever is on the grid, while the jump ability allows enemies congregating on the edge of the grid to be dealt with effortlessly. This score-chaser also has one other rather neat addition – an AI droid. Every time we gained this power-up we breathed a sigh of relief, as their presence almost guarantees a safe passage to the next stage.

It seems that Jeff Minter has dialled down the psychedelics here, too. Previous Llamasoft games are sometimes criticised for becoming too trippy for their own good, with the screen distorting effects obscuring the action. Tempest 4000 remains quite the trip, only now the backdrops and effects no longer distract, allowing you to focus on refining those arcade shooting skills.

We also like the use of vintage Atari slogans on the title screen. Seasoned gamers may notice a few other winks and nods to Atari of yore too, especially within the stage names.

Just to prove how addictive and compelling Tempest is, we booted it up just to grab a couple of screenshots and ended up spending the best part of an hour chasing high scores. It’s a more than welcome addition to the current gaming landscape – Tempest 3K was, lest you forget, released on one of the worst selling consoles of all-time.

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Aug 30
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? If you happen to be trapped in the 1930’s, the correct answer is the Strange Brigade. The co-op shooter sees Rebellion taking a break from Sniper Elite to give the world a new IP with a stiff upper lip. Tally ho, and all that.

The consensus is that while Strange Brigade doesn’t require much brainpower to play, you’re still in for a jolly good time providing you can convince a few other friends to tag along. Reviews scores so far are a mixture of 7s and 8s, with more than a few critics noting that it took them by surprise.

SEGA’s Yakuza Kiwami 2 is on track to become this week’s highest-rated new release, however, gaining a steady string of 9/10s. It’s a serious contender for being one of the greatest remakes of all-time – it has received a complete overhaul, including greatly revised mechanics.

Pro Evolution Soccer is back this week as well, with some critics warning of a slight lack of features, while the Switch finally gets a piece of Monster Hunter pie. While Generations Ultimate isn’t an entirely new game, it does contain the ‘best bits’ of the Monster Hunter games before it. Think of it as a greatest hits collection.

Then we have Donut County, a new indie that should please fans of Namco’s Katamari series. It’s Katamari in reverse, essentially, involving a giant sinkhole that swallows everything in its path. Who’s behind it all? A pair of sneaky racoons, of course.

All this and a new Naruto game too. Never underestimate the popularity of Naruto – don’t be surprised to see it break the top 20 next week.

New release showcase:

Strange Brigade

Reviews:
8.2 – VideoChums: “Strange Brigade definitely took me by surprise as it’s one of the most fun-filled cooperative online games out there. The amount of variety makes the gameplay constantly enjoyable and working together with friends is super-satisfying”

8/10 – WCCFTech: “Should you buy Strange Brigade? If you have some friends looking to invest some time in this game playing with you (and some money too, since they’ll have to buy their own copies) then yes, absolutely. With pals, this is a great ride. Looking to go solo? Um, it’s a bit more of a hard sell. You can jump in with people online of course, but it’s not the same as your friends being along for the ride”

7.5 – IGN: “While Strange Brigade can be frustrating at times, the charm of its 1930s world, the wonderfully exaggerated English alliteration of its narrator, and solid level design, combat encounters, and four-player co-op make it a strong, stylish third-person shooter”

Yakuza Kiwami 2

Reviews:
9.0 – GameInformer: “Kiwami 2 is more than a great remake: it’s the best this strange, wonderful series has to offer and it shouldn’t be missed by fans of action or RPG titles”

9.0 – God is a Geek: “In yet another fantastic entry, you’re treated to more fluidity in combat, a gorgeous world to explore, and so much to do outside the main story it’s ridiculous”

8/10 – GameSpot: “Yakuza Kiwami 2 is an excellent example of the series at its best, coupling its most memorable stories and characters with its most sophisticated mechanics yet”

PES 2019

Reviews:
8.2 – IGN: “PES 2019’s focus on individual brilliance brings players to life and gives the game an extra dimension of authenticity”

4/5 – GamesRadar: “Light on features it may be, but PES 2019 shows the proof in the pudding is, and always will be, out on the (virtual) pitch”

3.5/5 – Twinfinite: “Whether PES 2019 is a good proposition will depend entirely on the gamer. For me, I can forgive its jankiness. The football, especially going forward, is just so good. Despite this, my admiration of the series will always be stained with a bit of disappointment, wondering what it could be with just a little more evolution”

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

Reviews:
9/10 – Nintendo Life: “Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate may lack the smoothness and accessibility that made Monster Hunter: World such a smash hit, but it more than makes up for it by being a sort of ‘greatest hits’ collection of the high points of the series, giving you hundreds of hours of content to play through”

8/10 – Nintendo World Report: “If picking up World isn’t an option, or if you prefer to take your Monster Hunter with you on the go, then Generations Ultimate is your best bet for the premiere portable experience”

6.5 – God is a Geek: “It’s nice to have Monster Hunter on the Switch, but those coming in fresh off the back of Monster Hunter World may be in for a rude awakening”

Donut County

Reviews:
83/100 – GamesBeat: “I wished the story was longer and the game had more things to do besides capturing things in a hole. But the story was lighthearted and the gameplay was fun”

4/5 – US Gamer: “Donut County is an excellent concept executed with pizzazz, personality, and an unexpectedly salient message at its core. While the end came abruptly and left me wanting more, like an endless mode or bigger levels to swallow things in, I can’t deny the great time I had with what’s there”

7/10 – Push Square: “Serving as a bite-sized snack between bigger titles, this definitely hits the spot, but those looking for a more filling experience may be left a little hungry”

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