From Oxford based Rebellion we have Strange Brigade, a very British third-person shooter with a strong tinge of Indiana Jones. Rebellion was previously best known for the Sniper Elite series which explains this title’s historical roots. This isn’t some boring historical retrospective, you’ll be fending off giant scorpions, mummies, minotaurs and pretty much any other supernatural Egyptian oddities. If you want the tone of this game set, look towards The Mummy. Not the Tom Cruise one, the Brendan Frasier iteration. The blend of serious Indiana Jones style action with Brendan Frasier’s more throwaway comedy is something Rebellion take great pride on in Strange Brigade.
Release Date: 28th August 2018
Size: 32.97 GB
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Developed By: Rebellion
Published By: Rebellion
When the ancient Egyptian Goddess Seteki is reawakened from her 4000-year slumber the world finds itself in grave danger. Fortunately, the Strange Brigade, a group of elite British agents with supernatural abilities are on hand to investigate. The story never gets in your way. It never gets overly complex. You’re presented with an enemy, a hero and an evil plot to foil. You’ll have five characters available to you, each with their own unique personality. This affects the story slightly, each will have different narration as you progress through the themed levels. The levels follow the story wonderfully. Each is stooped in ancient Egyptian lore, from the enemies to the puzzle design. A lot has gone in, to ensure that Strange Brigade has an authentic, British feel. The character’s accents are exaggerated in a way that brings them to life rather than making them simple stereotypes.
The simplest way to describe the gameplay is to think of Uncharted without the set pieces. The main thing you’ll be doing is shooting enemies in the third person. Some areas will be simple enough, you’ll move from point A to B. Others will be wave based rooms where you’ll have to fend off a variety of creatures with the help of an arsenal of weaponry and environmental traps. Throw in some environmental puzzles and you have the foundation of each level in Strange Brigade. The game keeps the puzzles very simple, shooting lights or symbols in the correct order or standing on tiles the way the environment indicates. This ensures you’re never stuck and never too far from the next piece of action.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of creativity on offer in terms of each level’s combat. The traps range from flame pits to spinning swords and more, triggering one and watching chaos unfold is very satisfying. Enemies are very dense, you’ll always be largely outnumbered. This sense of scale just adds to the satisfaction of wiping out a large chunk of the opposing force in one quick swoop. Of course, you also have your own weaponry to face down Seteki’s army. This weapon set is customizable, you’ll earn money in each level from chests and other collectibles which can be used to buy more weapons. Each is varied, from SMGs with high rates of fire perfect for crowd control to very slow deliberate rifles which deal with enemies in one shot. You also get a special ability and an explosive. The special abilities are varied, my favorite allowed you to set an enemy to burst into flame and damage its surroundings. Explosives are brilliant. Simply lobbing dynamite into a crowd then shooting it was my default tactic for every area.
There is an excellent amount of content on offer here. Not only do you have the eight hour long story mode, there is Score Attack and Horde mode as well. Levels have extra puzzles and collectibles to give them replayability. You can even adjust the amount and difficulty of enemies in order to make it easier to simply collect things or explore. Combine this with the fun of replaying levels with overpowered weapons you gain access to later in your play time and it adds extra elements to levels you’ve already cleared. Score attack is incredibly fun and pretty addictive. It has the ‘one more go’ aspect nailed. The challenges in each of the levels ramp up the intensity, the time limit and shortness ensure that you’re never in each for too long but also that you don’t mind trying again or restarting. Horde mode is also fun if you can get a group together. By getting kills you’ll earn money to spend on weapons and upgrades, allowing you to take on more challenging enemies in later rounds.
This leads on to multiplayer. Strange Brigade has it. A lot of it. Everything can be done in a group of up to four. This includes the campaign! I beat the full campaign solo and it wasn’t overly detrimental to the experience. This doesn’t mean multiplayer isn’t more fun than single player, it means that the campaign holds up well in its own right. The main issue with the campaign in single player is that each level just felt one section too long. In multiplayer when you’re moving through the level quicker this issue wasn’t found. Multiplayer is essential to enjoy Horde mode though. Thanks to the strong multiplayer focus there’s a lot of value in this package.
Graphics and Sound
Strange Brigade is beautiful. From the animations to the backgrounds, I was impressed. I cant count how many times I stopped just to enjoy a vista or how many times I was taken aback by how natural movements looked. Throw in solid 30fps and an unlocked frame rate that goes above 50 most of the time and there’s an amazingly polished product here.
The sound is also amazing, mainly due to the narrator. Glen McCready’s delightful British accent and biting sarcasm are charming and humorous. It really brings the world to life and adds a bit of glee to every little thing you do. This includes standing still without pausing the game. Try it, you’ll get a trophy! The rest of the audio, music, enemy noises and environmental effects are all good. They work together to maintain an intriguing world.
Strange Brigade is an oddity in some ways. The game is clearly built around multiplayer components. It’s intended to be played with friends. However, it can be fully played and enjoyed solo. The overall package is put together well enough that it works. The graphics are great, performance is polished, shooting is sound and the characters have charm. Unfortunately, repetition does kick in. It isn’t a game you’ll be able to play for hours a day, you’ll definitely have to pace yourself. If you enjoy third person shooters in any way though Strange Brigade is for you.