Brawl Busters: Casual Beatdown
By Michael Sagoe (Mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Rock Hippo Productions’ latest free-to-play title is primed and ready for action. Brawl Busters is a multiplayer online action game that mixes class-based combat with simple and intuitive controls, creating a game where everyone can have a ball (or in this case, a brawl.)
Making your character standout is easy thanks to the game’s character customization. Players can choose from eight different body types, three face styles and five skin tones, along with a handful of weapons, costumes and accessories. There are enough options available to make your character stand out, but the amount of costume choices could be just a tad larger.
However, making your character look good is only half the battle. You can also upgrade your weapons and costumes with additional stats. The process of upgrading these items, however, is a bit flaky: Item upgrading has a 1 out of 4 chance of being successful. Unsuccessful upgrades result in having the item level unchanged, the item level dropped or even have the entire item completely destroyed. The only way to prevent most unsuccessful upgrades is by coughing up a few bucks for RT (Rock Tokens). Fortunately, item upgrades aren’t completely necessary, as players can make do with base level equipment as long as they’re skilled enough.
The available gameplay modes offer up a decent amount of variety, including old standbys such as Team Deathmatch and Free-For-All, popular favorites such as zombie mode and boss battle, and a unique spin on Team Deathmatch called Glow Rush.
Brawl Busters is all about easy combat mixed with chaotic gameplay, and the five different classes available help create said chaos: Sluggers can mix things up between melee and moderate range attacks, Fire Fighters use their giant water cannons to defend and cause interference from a distance, Boxers can chase down and beat down enemies mano-a-mano, Blitzers serve as crowd control while taking on multiple offenders at once and Rockers can do a little bit of everything. Classes are very well balanced, offering various strengths and weaknesses.
Gameplay in Brawl Busters is pretty simple to get into, but perhaps it sometimes feels a little too simple. While the overall gameplay is fast and chaotic, the core combat mechanics doesn’t have a lot going for it. Elements such as dashing, dodging, jumping, attacking, breaking objects and using items can be learned and mastered within a couple of hours. Core combat mechanics have a severe lack of depth which affects the game’s lasting appeal. Casual or avid types may enjoy the game in short bursts, but hardcore types may lose interest quickly.
Although Brawl Busters is a beat ‘em up style game, its control scheme is structured similar to a third person shooter. Using the basic WSAD setup, anyone that has ever played a shooting game will know just what to do. For those that don’t: the beginner’s tutorial does a nice job of explaining the controls in less than two minutes. Gamepad support would have been nice, but the game’s chaotic gameplay just wouldn’t allow for it. Overall the controls feel solid and functional, and you’ll never feel like your character is flailing outside of your control.
Graphics and Presentation
At first glance, many would suspect Brawl Busters’ visual style to be a rip-off of Team Fortress 2. While they both share a similar visual aesthetic, Brawl Busters’ visuals are far more bright and colorful. Despite the game’s development team hailing from the East, the game was made with western audiences in mind, and it shows. Environments come to life during battle and characters present themselves with a vibe that comes straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon. Character models all have zany proportions to them, also fitting in with the cartoon vibe (not to mention the female character models having some ridiculous awesome jiggle boob physics… *Boi-oi-oi-oi-oing*)
In the audio department: Brawl Busters has lively music that’s fun to listen to. Music is a bit scarce during combat, but the quick tunes that play during kiosk boosts help spark some energy. Sound effects are great overall, but the horn effect that blares whenever you land a hit may get on some people’s nerves.
Community functions for Brawl Busters are incredibly lacking in certain aspects and are non-existent in others. While the leaderboard options are nice, the friend list system is too simple and there’s no clan support, which makes gathering friends up to be more tedious than it should be.
Brawl Busters’ community is filled with a lively bunch of local and international players. It’s easy to find active rooms for just about any game mode, but beware as level stacking in team versus modes happens frequently.
As with any team-based multiplayer game, lack of communication among teammates is sure to result in defeat, and with the game’s chaotic pacing, bare minimum chat functions simply aren’t up to the task. This could easily be remedied by including chat macros or in-game microphone support. With these features unavailable, trying to coordinate with your team in the middle of a heated battle isn’t such a good idea (unless, of course, you and the rest of your team have fast typing fingers.)
It’s best to gather up some friends or make new ones in-game if you want to form a functioning team.
While the hardcore gaming crowd may not fall head over heels, Brawl Busters is a terrific multiplayer action title that is as charming as it is unique. The western cartoon style is highly appealing, along with fast and easy gameplay that’s sure to be a hit with casual and avid gamers alike.
Graphics and Presentation – 5
Controls – 4
Features – 3
Community – 3