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STRANGE BRIGADE
A smashing good time.  

REVIEW
By JAY TEE
04/09/18

The endlessly enjoyable Sniper Elite series has cemented developer Rebellion’s well earned pedigree of making games that are incredibly satisfying experiences. They might not push the boundaries of visual fidelity, but their reputation for memorable, mechanically tight gameplay is well deserved.

Strange Brigade, a deliciously self aware co-op shooter, is a home run. You’ll quickly look past the odd janky animation to find a game that challenges and surprises in equal measure. The fact that co-operative play is so central to the experience, and yet remains such a thrill to play solo, is a testament to its ‘fun comes first’ philosophy.

The aesthetic is pitch perfect, with a very British ‘old timey adventurer’ narrating your progress and delivering killer one liners at every turn. Crucially, the shooting mechanics are tight and punchy, and there’s decent replay value in the score attack and horde modes. Bottom line: this is a great videogame.

THE BASICS - Third person co-op shooter, set in the 1930’s, with branching paths and upgradeable characters.

PLATFORMS - PS4, XB1, and PC

PLAYERS - Offline - 1, Online - 4

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - The entire campaign is playable in co-op, along with score attack and horde modes.
 
DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - A season pass with new campaign levels, characters, weapons, and abilities.

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

REVIEWS KEY:

The Look - Art style, graphics, and overall presentation.

The Feel - Mechanics, controls, and learning curve.

The Sound - Music, sound effects, and dialogue.

The Experience - Anecdotes and random thoughts.

This is absolutely as fun as it looks.

1

2

3

4

5

FINAL SCORE:

NICE AND CRISPY - Even though you’ll recognise plenty of ‘Sniper Elite’ visual DNA, particularly with the character models, this is Rebellion let loose from the shackles of gritty combat realism. The distorted ‘film grain’ in the cutscenes, the environmental detail… they’ve gone to great lengths to sell the look, and it pays off in spades.

BUTTER SMOOTH - We’re reviewing the game on a PlayStation 4 Pro. Performance wise, Strange Brigade is a winner. Things get pretty heated in combat, with various enemy types, ragdoll physics, and lots of visual effects to potentially throw a spanner in the works. But the framerate remains solid throughout.  

NICE TOUCH - The menu’s are presented as torn pages from an adventurers journal. Awesome.

Strange Brigade is a delightfully silly and self aware good time, with satisfying combat and strong co-op integration. There’s a lot here to like, and it’s well worth your time.

*PS4 review code provided by Rebellion*

JERKY WACK - As mentioned above, combat is punchy and satisfying. Weapons have an era appropriate kickback, but aren’t lacking in oomph. The melee attack is hilarious, sending weaker enemies into a flailing ragdoll tumble, but lining up these attacks can be a tad fiddly. There’s also a certain abruptness with the animation that doesn’t fit smoothly alongside the gunplay.

NAILED IT - The controls are standard third person shooter fare, which should feel immediately familiar. Only the odd default button mapping will throw you at first (melee on a trigger?!), but everything else feels great. Crucially, for a game that asks a lot of your reactions, you don’t feel like you’re fighting sluggish mechanics. This is a well oiled machine.

DO ONE BRUV - The giant Scorpions are one of the most annoying, bullet sponge-esque enemies I’ve ever encountered.

CHATTERBOX - The voice acting throughout is superb. Well animated cutscenes look AND sound the part, while the narrator is a stroke of genius. And I normally hate narrators! Just when you think you’ve heard all of his one liners, you’ll be treated to another unexpected quip that sync’s perfectly with the on screen action.

AHH SEE - I’m chuffed to report that the soundtrack is totally in keeping with the setting, and kicks into gear without being too overbearing. Generally speaking, the audio design in Strange Brigade is superb, and easily one of Rebellion’s best efforts. They’ve nailed every aspect, from weapon effects, to special abilities, to music.

LOLZ - I defy anyone not to laugh at the exaggerated thud of the melee attack.

FUTURE PROOF - Each mission is made up of multiple sections, and the score attack / horde modes are a nice touch. While the announced Season Pass will include a new three part campaign, I’d have liked a tad more content at launch. A PvP mode could have been interesting, and there’s definitely room to expand the existing single player.

TRAP-TASTIC - The various environmental hazards that can be used to your advantage reminded me of the classic Ravenholm level in Half Life 2. There’s so much you can do to fight the oncoming horde, and each trap, whether it’s a spinning razor blade, swinging axes, or underground spikes, create a ‘risk reward’ loop that works really well.

HIGHLIGHT REEL - Have I mentioned that you can sucker punch enemies and it’s hilarious?

LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS ARTICLE!
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, TWEET US @JAYTEE_GA, OR E-MAIL: EDITOR@JTGA.CO.UK.

TARP BADGES:

The SARU’S GANGLIA badge is for a game that does a great job of visually immersing you in its world.

The ALPHA SITE badge is for a game with an excellent PvE or Horde mode.

The MARSHALL LAW badge is for a game that lets you fight back against an overwhelming force.  

The BARREL OF LAUGHS badge is for when a game boasts a keen, sharp wit and several laugh out loud moments.

The POPPY SOUND badge is for a game where the music, sound effects, and/or dialogue are superb.

The FULL IMPULSE badge is for a game that is short, but still a great experience.

The ARCHER’S EXPANSE badge is for a game with large multiplayer maps / courses / levels.

GREAT