Rebellion is one of those games companies that really, really, really wants to be considered a triple-A studio. But, while it came close-ish with Sniper Elite 4, Strange Brigade is one of those games that prove that it hasn't quite got what it takes.
The Strange Brigade are a shady bunch of British secret service agents whose role is to investigate supernatural stuff happening around the world in the 1930s.
In this instance, reprobate archaeologist Edgar Harbin has discovered the resting place of Queen Seteki, an entirely fictitious Egyptian ‘witch queen' so unpleasant that her own people overthrew her and sealed her in a tomb.
Naturally, unsealing the tomb has released all sorts of unpleasantness, and the Strange Brigade is tasked with sorting it all out.
You can choose one of four or five characters to run through the single-player campaign, depending on how much silver you've crossed Rebellion's palms with, and are also accompanied by a plumby-voiced narrator who sounds like he narrates public information films in his spare time and, unless I'm very mistaken, ‘Mother Hen' from Sniper Elite 4 on radio transmissions at the various checkpoints.
The game also offers an online cooperative mode so you and your friends, if you have any, can play the game as a genuinely strange brigade.
The Egyptian antiquities welcoming committee
You also have a choice of weaponry and can pick up money along the way that can be put towards purchasing new ones, as well as collecting charms to power-up your particular choice of weaponry.
The game, if you've seen any of the pre-release videos, clearly takes its inspiration from Valve's two Left 4 Dead games and Rebellion's own Zombie Army trilogy of games, but without really offering the kind of challenging gameplay that both provide.
On top of that, the controls feel more like they are intended for consoles, rather than PCs, and the game is somewhat clunky played using mouse and keyboard. Unlike Sniper Elite, there's no sniping and unlike the Zombie Army games, the zombies in Strange Brigade aren't especially challenging either.
There's also plenty of ammo lying around so accuracy isn't really necessary - shoot, retreat, shoot some more. Job done.
And the maps are somewhat linear and confined. This may annoy some people who like the current vogue for open world games, where you have to find plants to "craft" your own power-ups, gut animals to increase the amount you can carry, and scamper up control towers for no good reason.
On the other hand, there's much less running around, pointless assignments and general busy-work.
Of course, it's more than just a shooting game, there's puzzles to work out in order to progress. But, again, these puzzles are as unchallenging as your adversaries and won't detain you for too long.
What's left, therefore, is a perfectly pretty game with graphics in the oil painting style of Sniper Elite 4 and some top-notch voice acting, all wrapped up in a game that's pleasant enough - but not worthy of the £39.99-£64.99 that Rebellion is asking for it. In other words, it's not bad, but it's not great, either.
Game: Strange Brigade
Strengths: Graphics, voice acting.
Weaknesses: Lacks depth, Short campaign mode
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