Games reviews: Broforce and Transformers: Devastation offer plenty of pleasure
Broforce pays hilarious homage to the beefcake stars of the silver screen, and Transformers ditches Michael Bay for a return to its cartoon roots
I’ve definitely just had a bromance. I was Rambro, a Stallone-looking bro blasting my way through an endless number of bad bros. Then I died, and I was Bronan the Brobarian, wielding my bro-sword like Schwarzennegeras I crushed my bro-enemies and heard the lamentations of their women-bros.
This is Broforce, a 16-bit love letter to “bro” movies – those crazy flicks in which brawnyheroes take on entire armies with nothing more than a machine gun. Available for the PlayStation 4, Windows, OS and Linux, it’s packed with over-the-top patriotism, ridiculous levels of absurdity, and a complete lack of political correctness.
Your job is simple: alongside four co-op players, you blast your way through bad guys and bosses, and then “get to the chopper!” Literally, every mission finishes with the ending from the first Predator film.
En route to that chopper, you can demolish walls to get to an enemy boss, or dig a tunnel with a shotgun to get out of a particularly hairy situation. And every death sees you randomly transformed into a new bro.
All the bros are here:from such ’80s classics as Brommando, B.A. Broracus and Robrocop, to the more contemporary Mr Anderbro (The Matrix) and The Brode (Kill Bill). Each has a set of particular skills: Time-Bro can slow things down, Brominator has a near-impenetrable endoskeleton, and Brodell Walker can pull off a fierce roundhouse kick.
That alone would be enough to make us squeal with joy, but it’s the level of detail that truly gets us: from its outlandishly silly Americana-everywhere symbolism, to the lightning-fast guitar soundtrackand the pixelated movie stars that are instantly recognisable.
A couple of decades ago, Broforce would’ve been the best thing we had ever seen. Now, it’s a nostalgic tribute to some of our favourite flicks, and a hell of a good time late at night with beers and bros. And for just HK$80 on Steam, you could do a lot worse, bro.
Remember the Transformers TV show from the 1980s? The one you used to wake up early for on weekend mornings? I loved it, as it had the right combination of sci-fi cartoon madness, kid-friendly violence and massive robots duking it out. Then Michael Bay came along and ruined everything.
Thankfully, Transformers: Devastation also remembers, ignoring the gleaming summer movies and sending us deep into wistful territory, for a hack-and-slash actioner based on the original cartoon. Available for the PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox One and 360, and Windows, it’s the kind of game you’ve long dreamed about – filled with ridiculously exaggerated features and anything-goes gaming.
After loading the game, you’ll be immediately caught up in a wave of beautiful nostalgia: Autobots and Decepticons as they were meant to be, cell-drawn and mostly 2D. The story is as cheesy as you remember, a larger than life good-versus-evil tale where bad robots are trying to transform our planet, all infused with a higher sense of moral purpose that attempts to tug at your grown-up heart strings.
The fighting, the centrepiece of the game, is amix of throwback scuffles and modern brawls, where Optimus Prime and Co dish out blistering combos that’re often far more brutal than the Saturday morning battles you remember.
All five playable good guys have distinctive attributes – Bumblebee’s speed, Optimus’ massive attacks, Grimlock’s awesome Dinobot – and those who have followed the franchise for years will feel shivers up their spine when the robots finally transform into vehicles.
The driving mechanics are definitely welcome, allowing you to fully take in the cities while keeping combat from becoming monotonous. But they’re also where you first spot the game’s weakest point, with Devastation over-reliant on copy-paste designs. Buildings, race tracks and general textures are all recreated over and over, to the point that as the game progresses, a strange feeling of deja vu sets in – and not because of long-forgotten childhood memories.
But this is just a minor quibble. The game succeeds for the most part, and if you’re disappointed by the occasional flaw and some obvious corner-cutting, we wouldn’t recommend going back and watching the terribly flawed original episodes any time soon.