Brawl Busters could be fun, but its balancing is kinda… well… busted.
Zombies! Hats! Guns! Bats! Guitars! Red! Blue! Cartoons! Brawl Busters pulls a lot from a deep bag of tricks that has been filled by many of the games that have preceded it. You might think that a lot of the things it tries to do have been played-out at this point. Class-based multiplayer games are widely available. Zombies have far surpassed World War II Nazis as the go-to enemy. Can this new entry in the free-to-play market make a dent by cherry-picking elements from all over the place? Read on, dear reader. Read on.
Brawl Busters is a third person action game where the player faces off against hordes of zombies in single player missions or co-op and against each other in various online game modes. It’s another in a long line of games that is heavily “inspired by” Team Fortress 2, pitting red against blue with cartoony characters and attempting to inject the proceedings with humor. Choose one of five classes mimicked from “real life” professions: Boxer, Firefighter, Rockers, Slugger or Blitzer. Some are quicker and some are stronger, so it’s up to you to pick one and go through the training missions to make them available for use in other modes.
The controls are pretty simple, as you can move with the WASD keys, jump with the space bar, and dash or evade with the SHIFT key. Use your mouse to aim while each button triggers primary or secondary attacks and E uses picked-up abilities. Figuring out how the game wants you to time evading to score counter attacks is pretty tricky, but otherwise the controls are responsive enough to not be a problem. I’ve been getting used to PC games including controller support as of late, so it’s a little surprising to not see it here.
There are roughly a dozen or so training missions in single player that award XP for levelling, as well as some cosmetic awards. The character levelling counts across all modes of play, but single player content is highly focused around prepping you for the competitive multiplayer. Unless you’re playing one of the highly dominating classes, you will have absolutely no fun becoming a punching bag for the boxer or rocker. Taking on each alone is almost impossible if you’re playing a slugger or firefighter, as they descend on you and your character gets stuck in hit animations to the point that you can’t move or counterattack. It leads to a highly frustrating experience that made me simply want to stop the game. Had I been playing this on my own and not for review, I would have uninstalled the game after a few of the short-lived matches. The classes need some serious balancing that has nothing to do with individual skill.
Brawl Busters saw how well hats have done for Team Fortress 2 and wanted to cash in on that themselves, and who can blame them? As mentioned before, the game is free-to-play, so it’s supported with a shop that sells mostly cosmetic items and a few that have actual impact on your defenses or attack power for real money.
The balance issues plaguing the multiplayer are something that can be fixed with time and player feedback, but as of this writing, it makes what is an otherwise nice package almost unplayable. It runs great on a wide variety of machines, has a nice, if unoriginal design, and puts its pieces together with skill. There is definitely a fun multiplayer game here with the short, 5 minute, 4-on-4 combat keeping things moving along nicely. For now I can’t recommend spending time with Brawl Busters, but hopefully they can figure out the balancing issues and in the future capitalize on what they’ve built without letting it slip into obscurity.