Strange Brigrade Review

Player(s): 1
Extra Features: Online Coop Play (2-4), Download Content

Strange Brigade is a co-op third person developed and published by Rebellion. Rebellion is well known for their Sniper Elite series and the more recent Zombie Army Trilogy. I have been wanting to get into Sniper Elite for quite a while, but still haven't played one yet, and have not played any other Rebellion games, so this is my first time playing a game from this developer. I'm pleased to say that Strange Brigade is a really fun co-op shooter with a good bit of variety in its campaign.

Players start out by picking one of the four hunters from the starting cast. Each hunter has their own set of weapons and an amulet. The primary, secondary and grenade weapons can all be swapped between characters, but characters all have their own unique amulet. The main modes of the game are campaign, horde, and score attack. All modes are playable through online co-op play with up to four players or you can play each mode in single player. There is a narrator that narrates your gameplay throughout each mode. The narrator can get quite entertaining with his lines and likes to mess with players with his quirky phrases.

Strange Brigrade screenshot 6

Campaign mode has a total of nine stages. You'll be fighting tons of undead enemies (mainly mummy enemies) on your way through each branching stage. One impressive part about the enemy line-up is that the game is constantly throwing new enemies your way as you progress through campaign stages. There are around two to three new enemies per stage. Some enemies start out as bosses then you'll be fighting them as normal enemies in later stages. Besides your basic shooting every character has an amulet that can be powered up with enemy essence and then you can unleash a special attack that kills several enemies in a row. All characters also can knock down enemies with melee attacks then finish off the grounded enemy with a stomp melee.

Enemies often arrive in waves at certain points of stages and you'll fight a few stragglers while progressing throughout the stages. You'll be going through several different tombs. The game has quite a bit of exploration in its stages for an online game. There are many collectibles to find and shoot and there are also several puzzles. There are tons of chests to open, secret areas to find and much loot to collect. It seems that every stage has one slightly big puzzle. Puzzles usually involve shooting objects or tiles to line up a sequence and there were a few light puzzles where I had to direct light to certain objects with mirrors. Strange Brigade does a great job in changing up the gameplay during campaign stages to where it didn't get as repetitive as I expected for a co-op shooter.

Stages in campaign are also quite long - while in single player, it would usually take me around 1 - 2 hours to get through a stage. There are many checkpoints in stages that save your game and allow for characters to upgrade or change weapons. New weapons can be bought with money that is collected in stages and you can also upgrade current weapons' stats by equipping stones to the weapons. Every campaign stage ends with a type of boss fight. The boss fight is usually composed of waves of normal enemies along with a new bigger enemy. Each stage has a number of traps that can be used to kill several enemies in a row by shooting the activation switch - traps include spinning blades, spike traps, flame traps, etc.

Strange Brigrade screenshot 4
Horde mode takes areas from the campaign and throws tons of waves of enemies your way. If you've played Gears of War, the horde mode in Strange Brigade is similar. You'll have breaks in between each wave in order to buy new weapons and upgrade weapons. You start Horde mode with only a secondary weapon, a grenade type and an amulet and have to gain money in order to start building up your arsenal. As you progress through the waves of enemies, new portions of the area will become unlocked and the battlefield will become bigger - this actually makes it harder since more enemies spawn in a greater number of areas. In some stages, you get to pay money in order to unlock new rooms with extra items in them. Score Attack is all about survival and increasing your score through kills. You get to pick your weapons from the start and must get through the stage with what you carry into the stage along with health and ammo drops that are sprinkled in certain areas throughout the stage. As you kill enemies, you increase a combo multiplier that will increase the points awarded per kill.

As already mentioned, all modes are playable in single player or co-op play with up to four players. Single player can get extremely hard as you get into the later stages of each mode. Co-op play takes some of the pressure off each individual player, but this game gets very frantic when it comes to enemy waves at times. Like most games, it seems the enemy difficulty and overall aggressiveness increases in co-op play. Unfortunately, the game doesn't seem to offer local co-op play. Even though the game is a lot of fun to play, it seems like it would run smoother overall, especially on my Xbox One X. Animations for enemies and characters have a jittery look to them. Thankfully, this doesn't detract much from the gameplay, but the gameplay just isn't that smooth overall. The game also gets repetitive, mainly in single player - even with all the variety and modes I still tire of it after a while.

If you're in the mood for a co-op shooter, Strange Brigade is a worthwhile pickup. The game has many unique modes of play that keep it from getting repetitive quickly. I had a lot of fun with the game, especially in co-op, but also in single player as well. The game mainly shines when fighting enemy waves and all modes focus on enemy combat but there is some good variety thrown in during campaign to keep it feeling fresh.

The Good:
+ Good amount of gameplay variety in stages (shooting, puzzle, exploration)
+ Decent selection of weapons (rifles, shotguns, machine guns, pistols, launchers, etc)
+ Impressive enemy variety (at least one or two new enemies per stage)
+ Very intense shooting gameplay
+ That amusing narrator

The Bad:
- The game could run smoother
- Gets repetitive in single player
- No local co-op (split screen)

Final Rating: 78% - Strange Brigade is an overall fun shooter with a surprising amount of variety in its stages.

 



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