I’ve just spent the last week blasting my way through Strange Brigade, A cheeky, 3rd person co-op shooter from Rebellion Games. Yes, this is the same developer behind the Sniper Elite series and Zombie Army Trilogy. Gone is the military motif and the precision-aiming, pink mist inducing head popping, replaced with a 1930’s era pulpy romp through Egypt. Does it deliver the goods Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom style, or does it fall flatter than a sequel to Gyllenhaal’s Prince of Persia? Keep reading and I’ll spill the beans.
As I said, It’s a four-person co-op shooter, but a single player romp through the nine lengthy levels is a pretty fun way to spend the next ten or twelve hours. Although, If you can wrangle up two or three cohorts, it gets even better. There is also a by-the-numbers Horde mode and a Score Attack mode, but I’ll tell you about them later.
You have four distinct characters to choose from, including an African Tribeswoman, a young professor-type, a female boxer turned factory worker, and a sharpshooter, who just happens to be a distant relative to the protagonist from Rebellion’s Sniper Elite series. While each character boasts a special skill and unique melee attack, they otherwise played pretty similarly.
The story is pretty standard fare and is told mostly through cutscenes between levels. Our four heroes explain the story via information dumps while flying high in a zeppelin, because, of course, they are.
Apparently, thousands of years ago, a brutal queen Named Seteki ruled Sahara Africa. Ultimately, her people grew tired of her crap, overthrew her and sealed her in a tomb. Cut to the year 1930 where an unfortunate archeologist named Edgar Harbin accidentally releases her witchy spirit. Only the Strange Brigade can save us now!
Armed with a combination of various rifles, handguns, explosives and mysterious amulet powers, you kill a ton of different undead creatures. The variety of enemies is overwhelming (in a good way), and each one offers a different obstacle for you to overcome. Killing them with era-appropriate weapons feels good, but there are more ways to deal death in the Strange Brigade. Each lengthy level is littered with booby traps that you can unleash on the hapless hordes in wonderful ways. Wicked spinning blades, spike pits, fire pits, spiked logs, are just a few of the dangers that litter each level. It never gets old luring a humongous horde of mummies, skeletons, mutant scorpions and undead warriors into a giant swinging scythe.
Don’t be fooled, you’re doing more than just murdering the already dead. Rebellion has added some good old-fashioned puzzles to offer a break from the killing business. Most of these puzzles involve shooting, so fear not gun lovers, but some require you to run from point A to point B in a certain amount of time while completing different tasks, or to step on cement blocks in a certain order. They weren’t overly difficult, so they seldom bogged down the action, but they offered just enough break in the gun-play to keep it from going stale.
There aren’t any grand set-pieces like you would find in the similarly styled Uncharted series, but the levels look fantastic and are full of amazing spectacle and hidden secrets just waiting for you to pilfer. The sound effects and music get the job done, and the pithy narrator never uses a simple ten-cent word when he has an arsenal of pompous sounding twenty-dollar words always locked and loaded. Some will undoubtedly find him and is haughty English accent grating after a while, but I thought it fit the style and fun of the rest of the game just perfectly.
As I mentioned above, there is a Horde Mode, and it is what you expect it to be. Like the story mode, Horde mode is playable solo but is better with friends. The Score Attack mode is simply straight killing as many undead baddies as fast as you can, in the most artistically disgusting ways possible. Both of these extras a welcomed, but if you’re hoping for new or exciting twists to these traditional game modes, you’ll be disappointed. Despite the perfectly average extra modes, the campaign kept me coming back for more. The Left For Dead style gameplay, mixed with interesting puzzles and a cool Indiana Jones-esque setting kept me entertained for hours. The enemies were cool, the bosses were challenging and the bombastically over-the-top narrator kept me entertained throughout. It didn’t break any ground, and I may not be going back for much longer, but it was pretty damn fun. What more can we ask?
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.