Broforce dedicates a key to making your character flex, which initially seems to tell you everything you need to know about this side-scrolling run’n’gun homage to high-gore ’80s action flicks. Yes, it’s a game that’s all about recreating the massacre scene from Hot Shots! Part Deux, going so far as to include its own end-of-level bodycount tally. But beneath its oiled biceps and ’roided-up barks, this gun show is far smarter than the average retro-styled shooter.
Rather than blast in all directions, Broforce only allows you to fire straight ahead, but everything in its levels can be destroyed. Need to take out a bipedal tank that’s impervious to bullets? Carve the earth out from underneath it, sending it plummeting to its doom. Want to stop reinforcements coming over that bridge? Knock it out. Heck, you don’t even need to follow set paths, but can use your gun and wall-hanging ability to tunnel to the exit flag. You may want to reconsider spelunking into random caves when the Aliens show up, however.
Well, they’re not exactly Aliens – just as Indiana Brones is not officially a character played by Harrison Ford, and Broniversal Soldier isn’t an alter ego of JeanClaude Van Damme. Except they are, and they’re near perfect. Each of Broforce’s colossal cast is a triple- distilled, hypergonadal version of their silver-screen selves. Double Bro Seven wields his Walther PPK, and tapping into his four-part special bar can bring out a raft of Q Branch gizmos, though he begins by quaffing a martini. The Brominator wields a minigun, and turns into an invulnerable metal skeleton when consuming his single special charge. Not all bros are equal, however, and you get a random one each spawn, so you can be left trying to take down a flying boss with just Blade’s blade.
There are other potential frustrations too. Played alone, this can be a tough game: a single bullet will end you, and only by rescuing caged hostages will you gain more than your starting life. But these volatile levels are so desperate to go bang as to be unmanageable with more than one co-op partner, despite technically prohibiting friendly fire. All it takes is for an errant bullet to clip a red barrel or overhead stone to send a teammate to the next life, assuming they have one.
Still, Broforce wants to be rock hard, and would probably call you a wuss and give you a wedgie for being bothered by a little thing like repeated deaths. It gets away with that because of its sheer cheerful audacity and because it lets you jack straight into the halcyon days of two-swears-a-minute gun-porn cinema. So, yes, it’s hopped up on steroids and testosterone, but Free Lives knows the score, and delivers one of the smartest dumb games since Super Time Force.
Basic Aliens aren’t too tough, but acid-based variants will nibble away the level and your lives if left unchecked. You may think these are hellish tests of skill, but later you’ll visit Hades and realise they’re nothing of the sort