A bombastic multi-player shooter that evokes the golden age of the arcades.
Broforce features simplistic 2D graphics and is a cooperative multi-player side scrolling shooter/ platformer - it could easily have been a late 80's arcade game - one of the deluxe cabinets with 4 sets of controls - the kind of Gauntlet-style set up that had coin money written all over it. Get some friends and a steady supply of coins and you'd get multi-player gaming action unparalleled at the time.
Given that this is 2014, that Broforce could be perceived as a 1980's game could be considered as a knock, but Broforce so boldly embraces the old school, so lovingly evokes the spirit of 80's and 90's action games and movies, that it feels brilliantly refreshing.
Everything is pared down to focus on out and out, balls to the wall action. With little in the way of presentation or story you begin the game as a randomly selected Bro, an often charming parody of a popular 80's/90's action hero with parodies of Robocop, Rambo,Terminator and Ellen Ripley included to name just a few, each with a custom weapon load out and a distinct play style.
The aim of the game is to battle your way through the end of each tightly constructed and enemy laden level, take out the oddly weak and passive demon suited guys that wait at the end and leap onto a helicopter ladder to escape to glory. On the way you'll find other captured Bros in cages; free them and you take on their persona, your prior Bro being saved as a 'life', a well implemented system that ensures you're encouraged to try all the different gameplay styles each Bro offers, rather than just sticking with a well-worn favourite.
The side scrolling 2D gameplay is beautifully measured, with each tiny but perfectly formed Bro sprite capable of running and jumping with a Super Mario Bros like precision, whilst wielding an awesome array of weapons with slick gun play akin to Metal Slug, Contra, and Gunstar Heroes.
Broforce is already a potent mix with those attributes but it ramps up the ante by having almost fully destructible environments with some of the best explosions seen in any game, or in any medium for that matter. They've fully captured the excessively destructive spirit from their beloved influences. Many of Broforce's explosions are simply put, epic.
One hastily thrown grenade could just as likely lead to a chain reaction and blow yourself up as it could take out an enemy, so this explosive element quickly becomes integral to the gameplay, leading to some surprisingly tactical play options depending on what Bro you may be playing at that time.
The armed enemy forces are simple but varied fodder, that can regardless still handily punish any careless Bro, with a selection of well realised and balanced bosses featured at the end of selected levels. The varying play styles of each Bro offer different ways to tackle each enemy - one Bro might simply blow up the platform the enemy stands on - one might jump and shoot from long range - one might attack from close range with melee - there really are a lot of ways to approach each scenario.
But the true mayhem ensues when playing the drop-in, drop-out online multiplayer. Up to 4 players can co-op and it is in this mode that some of the best fun is to be had. Much of the time you'll be unwittingly exploding the hell out of one another, as screen filling explosions erupt and Bros fall to their doom, often with hilarious (or infuriating) results.
Though it's just as likely to get a cohesive team and it soon becomes evident what a great co-op game this can be, each Bro can complement the other, and with 4 at once from a huge range of Bros, it's rare you'll encounter the same combo twice offering a great deal of variety.
Still an early access game, Broforce offers many other modes at varying stages of completion and even offers a custom level design utility, with hundreds of custom maps ready to play and many more appearing on the horizon.
Even at this early stage, Broforce offers a lot for the asking price and is definitely one of the most promising early access games yet released.
Unfinished it may be but it offers almost instant gameplay gratification - no fuss, no filler, just good old school explosive arcade action.
(Final score reserved for release of final retail version.)