EXPENDABROS is a spin-off of the indie game BROFORCE, developed by Free Lives, that is essentially a playable advertisement for the third Expendables film. The funny thing is it’s better than any of the films in the Expendables franchise and is actually more successful in doing what The Expendables have attempted to do for three films. That is, make a schlocky tongue-in-cheek throwback to the crazy action films of the 80s and 90s with all the lead actors from those films together.
Problem is, the films are awful. In a post-Matrix, The Raid, 24 and Bourne world, the idea that throwing meat-headed dudes together with all the fight choreography of a 6 year-old playing with his Action Man is just boring. Don’t get me wrong; the idea of bringing together the likes of Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger does have a certain appeal to it. But the actors are so old and require such huge pay-checks that nothing much happens in the films beyond ‘banter’ and cheap looking action scenes filmed with copious amounts of green-screen and CGI. All because the actors don’t want to take any risks in their old age.
But this isn’t a review of the Expendables franchise. This is all about EXPENDABROS. The game that Expendables wishes it could be.
The basic premise for the game is that you control a single “Bro” from a cast of roughly seven Bro-ified versions of the Expendables characters, my personal favourite being Bro-Christmas as he throws hella knives all the time, and run through levels killing dudes and blowing shit up. The challenge comes from the randomness of the characters and the fact that the character can only take one hit/explosion before he dies. The randomness – your character changes after every mission and whenever you rescue a Bro, you become them – forces you to adapt quickly to the Bro you are controlling as each character has a different play style and special move.
For instance, as previously mentioned, Bro-Christmas throws tons of knives at a very rapid pace but Bro-Caesar fires a fat mini-gun that pushes him backwards. It adds a lot of depth to the combat as you have to work out the ranges and fire-rate of each individual character, with some requiring more skill or experimentation in certain situations than others. The entire game is very fast paced and needs a surprising amount of concentration and luck to finish, especially since some bad luck with an explosive barrel could send you back to the start of the level.
What really makes this game more than what could be seen as a tweaked version of the Contra games on the SNES, is the presentation. The first thing that hits you when you start up the game is the voice-over screaming “EXPENDABROS”. He makes several appearances throughout the game and is always funny, especially when it sounds like he is passing a kidney stone as he shouts each Bro’s name. His voice fits into the entire aesthetic of the game: Loud, self-aware, obnoxious and BROTASTIC.
EXPENDABROS’ art style is based around roughly 16-bit games, such as the aforementioned Contra, only with much more detail, colour and explosions than what was realistically possible on the SNES or Sega Megadrive. The sprite for all the characters, Bros and Enemies, are huge chunky things with some surprisingly great animation for the size (one particular highlight is some of the grunts you face stub out their cigarettes when they notice you).
Each Bro is brimming with character whilst the Enemies, with some exceptions, are suitably faceless. Despite all this colour and detail in the characters, the level design can be rather drab; all greys, greens and browns. However there is very little time when something isn’t exploding – which certainly livens up the levels – and the fact that it is all completely destructible makes up for the lack of variation in the colour pallet.
Speaking of explosions, I have to praise this game’s sound design. I have already mentioned the brilliant voice-over work, but I have to say that all the guns and explosions live up to my expectations coming in. They all sound incredible and, as a result, lend the pyrotechnics and guns a serious sense of power. Plus, whenever you finish a level there is a sick-ass guitar solo that just lets rip at the end as the level you just completed fucking explodes for literally no reason. Utterly ridiculous and totally awesome.
So that is EXPENDABROS. Probably the best piece of advertising for a film I have ever seen, especially since it is better than the actual product could ever be. Did I mention that this game is free until roughly Christmas time? So you have no excuse but try it out.
Buy it: Here