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Brotherhood United

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Silesia Games
Developer: Myoubouh Corp.
Release Date: March 12, 2020


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Switch Review - 'Brotherhood United'

by Cody Medellin on June 24, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Pick your guns and blast your way through hordes of enemies on this run and gun game as a member of the Brotherhood who leaves no friend behind.

If you're a fan of run-and-gun games, then you have quite a selection to choose from on the Nintendo Switch. You have the classics, like the Contra Anniversary Collection and a slew of Metal Slug games. If you want something modern, look no further than Blazing Chrome; Cuphead; or Guns, Gore & Cannoli. Whether you're playing alone or with a friend, there are plenty of games on the Switch to satisfy your shooting needs. Brotherhood United, from Myoubouh Corp and Silesia Games, should have been another game for fans of the shooting genre, but plenty of easy mistakes caused this title to falter.

In Brotherhood United, you — and a partner if you're playing co-op — are the newest recruits to a gang called the Brotherhood. After a tutorial disguised as a training session, the gang decides to celebrate with a vial of stolen green liquid. That's when someone breaks into the club headquarters and takes off with the gang's leader and the mysterious vial. As expected, your job is to obliterate everyone in your path to rescue your leader, grab the vial, and return to the rest of the gang.

While a lack of any storyline would be fine as a throwback to simpler times, the game's first mistake is having a plot. There are some cut scenes and inconsequential snippets of dialogue, but the flimsy setup seems to lack any purpose and quickly becomes tiresome. It might've been a better course of action to go for the old-school feel by ditching a premise altogether.

The core mechanics are immediately reminiscent of the classic Metal Slug series. You start off with a pistol that does decent damage, and while this isn't a twin-stick shooter, you can point and shoot in eight directions the old-fashioned way. You also have the ability to lock in diagonal up and diagonal down directions in front of you. You can chuck grenades at foes, and you can also rescue fellow gang members to get things like more grenades or health. While you'll always start with your pistol, you can find more weapons to use along the way, including a machine gun, rocket launcher, shotgun and sniper rifle, just to name a few. If you get close enough to a foe, you'll melee them instead of shooting them at point-blank range. Finally, you get a few opportunities to ride vehicles that are extremely similar to ones from SNK's venerable series.

Interestingly, while the game seems old-school, it also lifts mechanics from modern shooters. For example, you can only carry two guns at a time, but you can switch between those weapons at any time. Every gun you carry has clips that deplete, so reloading is necessary, and you have an active reload system. Finally, instead of being able to duck, you can perform a dodge-roll to evade some shots.

Of the new mechanics, the reload system is the most annoying, since you're breaking up the flow of the typical run-and-gun shooter with constant breaks for reloading. The fact that the remaining ammo in your clip is denoted by a solid bar instead of numbers or something segmented adds to this annoyance, since it isn't easy to see how many more bullets you have before reloading. Speaking of which, the active reload system feels tacked on, since it doesn't provide any benefits, such as more powerful bullets.

The rest of the gameplay mechanics don't do any favors for Brotherhood United. For starters, while you have a limited set of lives to work with, you can't tell how many you have until you pause the game. When trying to free hostages, it takes an extra attack to wake them up after freeing them, but there's also an extra bit of waiting to see what reward you'll get. The camera is zoomed in so much that it'll remind you of the Game Boy games, with large characters that required players to vertically scroll to see anything. The camera feels very jerky, and that is amplified in co-op mode. This also becomes an issue during boss fights, since some of those fights break from normal behavior. For example, while most enemies can't fire beyond walls and floors, bosses can. The same goes for hazards; getting close to the aftermath of a grenade explosion may be fine, but getting close to an electrical trap means you're getting the full brunt of the damage. That lack of consistency makes it seem like balancing wasn't taken into consideration, or the developers wanted to spike the difficulty at times.

There are a few things the game does well. For starters, respawning is instant, and the lack of progress resets means that you can burn all of your lives against a troublesome boss and make it worthwhile, since the boss damage carries over from life to life. Most enemies are one-hit kills, so it's empowering to mow down hordes of them. Despite the limited ammo for most of the guns, there's plenty of it to go around — to the point that you won't worry about running out of bullets. Finally, the game automatically saves your progress, so slogging through the game won't mean having to restart entire levels.

The presentation is quite dull, though. On the sound front, the music is fine and forgettable, but the sound effects really let down the package. This mainly due to the gunfire lacking any punch, so the machine guns and rocket launchers sound weaker than pop cap guns. Graphically, the game's 8-bit style aims for the lower tier of NES offerings, as the designs seem basic and the color palette looks very limited. Aside from looking retro in a bad way, it also affects gameplay, as there are moments when you can't tell if a ledge or background items is viable to stand on. On top of that, the game tries to sport effects, like flames from a jetpack, that clash heavily with the rest of the art.

Brotherhood United is a game that you might want to play if you've run out of other run-and-gun shooters. The shooting may have been fine if the modern mechanics weren't thrown in, but the multitude of annoyances, from the bad pixel graphics to low customization and inability to easily convey vital stats to the player, combine to make for a terrible overall experience. Considering the vast library at your disposal, Brotherhood United is an easy pass.

Score: 4.0/10

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