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Bloober Team
Bloober Team
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Release Date:
April 28, 2015

Okay, so here’s the back story: Early last year, Bloober Team released a game called Basement Crawl for PlayStation 4. It was supposed to be a spiritual successor to the iconic Bomberman franchise, featuring the classic top-down multiplayer veteran gamers remember with such fondness. Unfortunately, the game was just plain bad. Horrid technical problems, no single-player entertainment, almost nothing in the way of customization, and even the multiplayer was severely lacking. But the developers took their licks and promised to right the wrong. That result is BRAWL , which is probably the game Basement Crawl should’ve been.

And perhaps the most appealing aspect? This new effort is free for anyone who purchased the team’s critically panned first title.

It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but at least it’s moderately enjoyable. I also don’t believe it’s right to spend an entire review comparing BRAWL to Basement Crawl ; as far as I’m concerned, all new productions have to stand on their own. That being said, I will say the graphics are better in comparison to the previous title, even if they’re not impressive. There’s more detail and variety this time around, and the special effects appear to be sharper. It’s still exceedingly dark (it’s like Bomberman fused with Alice ) so that may turn off some gamers, while still attracting others. The visuals aren’t a major highlight but it’s forgivable.

The sound is also improved; whereas before we had mediocre, generic sound throughout, we now have more technically accomplished audio. There’s also more impact and diversity, which is great. I still say more needs to be done with the effects but for the most part, the technical aspects of BRAWL receive a passing grade. Again, they won’t blow you out of your seats but there is a marked improvement in overall quality and in short, one doesn’t feel as if he’s playing a broken game. There may be nothing to write home about; no stylish, eyebrow-raising graphics or audio effects that will prove memorable. But it’s still a step in the right direction.

Anyway, I said I wouldn’t spend the whole time comparing and contrasting, so let’s move on to BRAWL ’s gameplay. Played from the classic isometric perspective and featuring a wide variety of characters, the game will immediately remind gamers of Bomberman . There are some interesting twists on the standard formula, too, such as the Story Mode. It’s basically just a tutorial so you can master each character’s unique skills but at least it exists. It’s also a very effective means of generating interest in the available characters, as it encourages experimentation. Me, I like the Puppet Mistress and her ability to slow – and even stop – opponents. In a game where movement is critical, this almost feels like cheating (but it’s not).

The pacing is decent as well, as you gain access to abilities one at a time, and the AI is easy at the start. In other words, you have time to get your feet wet and learn the ropes of the ceaseless, imaginative combat. I think the AI gets too hard too fast, though, and I really despise the seemingly brilliant AI maneuvers that make your foes almost invulnerable. They have a way of staying in exactly the right place to avoid all danger and that’s just plain irritating. However, let’s not forget that this game – and the Bomberman series in general – has always been about multiplayer entertainment, so we shouldn’t harp too much on the lacking elements in the Story Mode/Tutorial. It’s just an average introduction, that’s all.