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About the product
- Explore the ancient world as one offour dashing explorers, each with theirown special powers, weapons andtactics.
- Fight-back-to-back against an army ofmythological menaces unleashed by anancient Egyptian ruler so nefarious she waswiped from the hieroglyphs: Seteki the WitchQueen
- Experience a rip-roaring new adventure for1-4 players filled with pulse-poundingaction, treacherous traps and tales ofderring-do
- Stay on the lookout for secret caves andburied riches. Get off the beaten track
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Seteki the Witch Queen has risen once again, and only one troop of daring heroes can stand against her fearsome army of mummified monstrosities: The Strange Brigade.
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... the complaint, though, is that this game lacks any kind of SAVE on demand. Unless you play to a checkpoint, you will lose progress. That means you just can't jump in the game and play for a few minutes, save and then come back. It's a horrible way to force people to play for longer times.
I tend to like to explore areas in detail, that means I don't necessarily rush forward to the next "spot" that might trigger a checkpoint... which means if I get killed, I lose all the progress I've made. It is super frustrating.
I recommend this game - if and only if, you can dedicate fixed amounts of time to the story so you don't lose progress.
I would easily give this five stars if there were a way to save that was player-friendly.
Cons: Not so fun in Single-player, aiming is not as smooth like other 1st & 3rd person shooters, animation is a bit choppy on characters, not a lot of content and mode (for the moment)-so a bit expensive for what it offers, I'd like to see more weapons added.
Overall, it's a fun to play multi-player game that will keep you entertained with your friends. If you don't mind the price and definitely will have friends to play with then it is worth the purchase.
The Strange Brigade is a brand new IP billed as a rip-roaring adventure set in 1930s Africa. With a heavy emphasis on co-op play, the game is built to support up to four players with drop-in/drop-out functionality and scaling difficulty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support any kind of split screen or couch co-op, which more than anything is probably just a sign of the times. The game comes to from independent developer, Rebellion Games—the same studio known for the Sniper Elite series; the Zombie Army Trilogy; and some flawed games, like Alien versus Predator and Never Dead that enjoyed at least some cult appeal on last-generation consoles. So let’s find out if the Brigade falls into the studio's more polished offerings, or if it’s a bit of a flawed mess.
Leading up to its release, the game was looking consistently better and better, and it was sounding great. Right off the bat, the little oddity that piqued my interest in this title was the voice work of the narrator (industry veteran, Glen McCready); his accent and cadence is perfect, and gave the experience flavor all its own. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it—and I'm pleased to share that in that aspect, the game doesn’t disappoint. But as we know, the voice work of just one or two characters, doesn’t necessarily make or break a game. So that said, let’s see how it did, and jump into the Strange Brigade!
Upon seeing this title, the first question you might ask is: Who is the Strange Brigade? The Strange Brigade is this kind of supernatural offshoot of the British Secret Service; where in that respect, the lore feels a bit similar to Hellboy. It’s an intriguing team, and the first thing you'll note about the game’s approach to storytelling, is how its fiction hits you right in the face with pulp. It's a quintessentially British experience, that draws heavy influence from action/adventure serials of the 1930’s, where it succeeds with this over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek approach. It’s very much a classic tale of derring-do, set upon by a team of plucky—if unfortunately underdeveloped—heroes.
And speaking of the heroes, before your journey begins, you'll select a character from one of four period-perfect archetypes: You’ve got “The Wayfinder”, Nalangu Rushida; “The Scholar”, Professor Archimedes De Quincey “The Soldier”, Frank Fairburn; and “The Engineer”, Gracie Braithwaite (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Rosie the Riveter). While each of these characters brings their own short backstory and personality to the game, we never really get to know them. The Strange Brigade’s story is scant, being told only through quick cutscenes between levels, and in one-page "books" and diaries that you’ll collect throughout the nine campaign missions. This was a cast that I wanted to get to know, but because of the thin plot and the brief exposition, we never really get a sense for who our heroes are (despite the fact that I spent more than 14 hours with them across the three different game modes). It's a shame that the characters barely talk, because when they do, it was always witty and interesting; at the end of the day, this feels less like an exclusion, and more like a big missed opportunity.
While this is a spoiler-free review, you'll find that the game's arc is a familiar one, closely toeing the line of a number of stories told before it. An archaeologist, in pursuit of fame and fortune, disappears while hunting for a legendary tomb, that just happens to belong to an evil queen who ruled the land thousands of years ago with malice and cruelty. Eventually she met her end, and slipped into myth and fable. There’s no way she can be real, can she? It's probably best not to go looking, right? Being one of "those" stories, the player almost feels like Brendan Fraser might show up at any moment, guns blazing. All told, the material is done well, there’s just not much of it, and it feels like you’ve heard at least some variation of this story before.
First and foremost, this arena shooter looks great while you're trying to figure out how to tackle the crowds of enemies. It’s animated well, lit well, and it benefits from a varied color palette outside of the standard browns and grays that permeate so much of today’s 3rd person shooter genre. This isn't a gritty and gloomy experience, in fact quite the opposite, it’s more Fable meets Uncharted.
And that’s especially true in the early game, where the screen pops with fun little quips that point your toward areas of interest or give you instructions during the tutorial. Throughout your experience, you’ll also receive quick graphical notifications when you kill some five or more enemies with a trap, grenade, or amulet attack. These are all small touches, but they really add to the quirky, pulpy feel of the game.
The game also uses these small animations and narration to help you find your way, pointing out traps that might initially blend in with the landscape, or guiding you toward other areas of interest. And speaking of the landscape, the art direction in this game is outstanding. Since the game isn’t an open world, the development team was able to put tons of detail everywhere. This is a landscape that you'll feel compelled to explore, and while it certainly doesn’t have the “if you see it, you can go there” feel of a Skyrim; it does have a “if it looks like you’re supposed to be able to get there, you can” feel to it, so it’s a bit deceptive in its scale. If you’re a careful observer, you’ll be rewarded for looking at this detail, finding certain windows or cracks in doors, where you'll see treasure on the other side. When you do see these hidden chests, it means you can definitely get into these areas, but finding how to get in won’t always be as obvious.
Throughout the game you’ll travel through a number a diverse and unique locations, and they all look great—there’s an underground pirate’s cave; abundant jungles; a market bazaar, and of course a trip to the Egyptian desert. These environments are all rich, and colorful; and even with the game's cheeky feel, this is a landscape that still feels believable; that feels like it actually exists.
As to the animations, the character models move fluidly, and when viewed up close, they benefit from myriad authentic, little details. That goes the same for the enemies, some of whom take context sensitive damage, where blowing off off arms and legs, causes them to respond and adapt accordingly. In a game like this, the player isn't given much downtime, so in those moments where you stop to re-arm, or try and sort out a puzzle, we recommend to take a moment, and appreciate all the little things that the design team added. There’s detail everywhere here, but the game moves quick—so if you don’t make time to drink it in, there’s going to be a lot that may go unappreciated.
In the Strange Brigade, it's only appropriate to begin this section with the voice acting. As I noted previously, the narrator’s presentation and dialogue—it flat out works! It’s charming, relevant, and often times downright hilarious. He helps hammer home the bigger than life adventure themes like those found in The Mummy movies; Romancing the Stone; the Temple of Doom; or even in games like Uncharted; Tomb Raider; and Crimson Skies. His voiceovers evoke memories of Sir Hammerlock from Borderlands, and benefit from some of the same fanciful nature that made Wheatley of Portal 2 such a joy. This disembodied narrator, if he wasn’t done just right could have been really annoying, but he’s an absolute standout part of the experience.
The cutscenes too are voiced well, and the player is treated to small touches like the whirring of a film reel during these black and white storytelling scenes. The issue though, is once again, while all of these characters are voiced with great enthusiasm, they just don’t talk enough, and that’s a shame, because when do, it’s really, really good!
As to the music, it isn’t anything special, it’s definitely atmospheric, but it’s comprised mostly of tribal drumbeats that near the end of the game, may wear a bit thin for some gamers because of their repetitive nature. The guns sound adequate, as do the amulet powers and gem effects; and while they aren't particularly memorable, they do the job. One last touch that I have to have to call out, is at a few scripted points during the game, you’ll see a ghostly apparition that’ll shriek and shout in a haunting way, and in these moments you'll be provided with a few decent little jump scares.
To close on the audio, if Rebellion makes a sequel, or even a franchise outta this, they need to set their writers loose, they’re tremendous!
Each character possesses different starting weapons, attributes, and their own special ability. Effectively, the team dons amulets that power up as you move through the paces, filling them with the souls of fallen enemies. Amulet attacks can also be chained together, especially if you're making smart use of the game’s plentiful traps. Another fun addition to the game are the numerous puzzles, which range from simply finding the right key to unlock a door, to shooting the right patterns of tiles on a door’s entryway. Sometimes you’ll have to do some serious searching for the right solution, and you’re definitely at an advantage with a coop partner or two who are willing to help you find and come up with these creative solutions. There was however one time where I just shot over and over at a puzzle door until it opened—which isn't an advisable strategy, but it worked!
And while this game is heavy on the co-op, there’s also a slight competitive element as well. In-level collectible items like relics and cat statutes are shared across the group; but items like books, gems, gold, health potions, and amulet-powering enemy souls aren’t. These are very much first come, first serve, and between me and my friends, there’s often little room for diplomacy. It’s really up to you and your team how free and willing you are to share the fruits of your labor. The effectiveness of teamwork is a bit of a mixed bag; and while you’ll want to stay engaged in the action early and often, there isn’t always a ton of room to plan and strategize. There’s usually so much happening on-screen during battles, that often times the best way you can contribute is just to kill everything in your path.
Another important note, is that players will want to observe the locations of the sarcophagi before a big battle. When a member of the Brigade runs out of health, they’ll end up in one of these, and unless they have a health potion handy, they'll need to rely on a teammate for to rescue. Players can revive themselves with a potion when trapped, but that wasn’t totally obvious until much later in the game. And speaking of much later in the game, through the first five or six levels, I ended up in a sarcophagus only a few times. I played through the game on the default “normal” difficulty, and altogether it didn’t provide too much of a challenge until the last few missions. In the eighth level of the game there was a huge spike in difficulty, that almost left my co-op partner in a rage quit scenario. For the most-part though, the game feels fair and enjoyable.
One thing that we have to call out through, are a pair of exploits that we leveraged hundreds of times throughout the adventure. When the Strange Brigade is at it’s worst, it looks like the player is engaged in a series of Olympic level somersaults. You see, you’re going to be mashing the roll button A LOT in this game. You’ll be rolling into battle; rolling out of danger; rolling into pots; and rolling even when you’re literally surrounded by enemies. I'm calling this an exploit because when you’re rolling, you’re almost invincible no matter what is happening around you; while this feature isn't effective 100% of the time, it is effective often enough that this feels like this ability was a bit of an unintentional superpower. And that said, I have to address the melee system. From my first encounter with the game, I experienced an odd little hitch in each character's melee attack where there was a noticeable delay between inputting the command and landing the strike. A close encounters attack on the majority of the smaller enemies will send them sailing ten yards or so, landing in a downed state where they’re ripe for a finisher. During these finishing moves, the player is again virtually invulnerable. So in a game that’s mostly about shooting, I found my way melee striking and stomping through some of the tougher fights simply to avoid taking damage and preserving health.
While the gunplay is satisfying, I felt like there are a few hitbox issues, especially on bosses that required you to shoot them exclusively in the glowy bits. This potential issue felt like it drew out some of the fights unnecessarily, as did a few battles that didn’t give you much information about exactly what you were supposed to do. On the topic of frustration—online in horde mode, I once had the game freeze (though I was able to dashboard out), and another time all of the enemies on-screen were frozen in place, and I was unable to hold or shoot any of my weapons, forcing me to drop out of the match. Otherwise though, matchmaking was a cinch, and coop partners were readily available which is always a good sign, (even though it was in just the first week of the game’s release).
All-in-all, the Strange Brigade is a mostly linear, contained sandbox game with a unique personality and a number of fun alternate paths, puzzles and secrets to discover. And while I don’t know that I would recommend the game as a purely single-player experience, if you’re looking to have a great, mindless time with some friends—I give this game a seven and a half, out of ten.