*DISCLAIMER: ALL VIEWS IN THIS REVIEW ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT COME FROM THE COMPANY THAT HAS KINDLY PROVIDED THE GAME*
BombSquad is, "an explosive arcade-style party game best enjoyed with several friends and a large couch. Jump, punch, throw, and bomb your way to victory as you compete in a plethora of mini-games including Capture-the-Flag, King-of-the-Hill, Bomber-Hockey, and of course Epic-Slow-Motion-Elimination" - BombSquad Website
This nice, little local multiplayer game was first launched in October 01, 2011. This was when its platforms included Mac/Android/Linux and Ouya. It was then released on the Gear VR, which is when it launched on April 18, 2015. However, now it has been developed and released for Oculus and so I must play it. There doesn't seem to be a story behind the game, though you'll wonder why your man, made out of clay, has an infinite supply of explosives hidden somewhere inside him. For this very reason, I have decided to move onto the gameplay.
The main gameplay takes place with a battle of clay men running about trying to kill one another. Your eyes, the camera, are looking down upon the battle controlling your clay man from a distance.
There are 3 main ways of attacking your opponent; you can either punch them, bomb them (it's kind of in the title) or you could pick them up and through them off the battlefield to their inevitable doom. As bombing is the true aim in killing your opponents, the kind devs have provided the player with many different bomb types to pick up.
- Triple Shot - Fire 3 bombs in a row
- Ice-Bombs - Freeze your target
- Trigger-Bombs - Explode on Contact
- Sticky-Bombs - Stick to anything
- Land-Mines - Explode after pressure
There are also other power-ups that increase your damage per hit, provide you with a shield, med-pack and a curse... all of these power-ups in succession can lead to some explosive enjoyment. Momentum also affects the damage that you do; if running, your attack will be stronger, you can jump further and your bombs will fly a greater distance. As spinning also increases momentum, spinning while attacking will also increase the amount of damage a punch does. I personally find this system very fun to play with as it makes the action fast-paced and games tend not to get boring.
Though this game is primarily a multiplayer experience, there are plenty of missions that you can playthrough by yourself. These missions come with objectives that will reward you with more, "tickets", to spend in the shop. The missions are usually 6 wave battles amongst AI, that increase in difficulty a lot quicker than I expected. After the mission is complete, you will receive a score that will correspond with a league table, where you can compete with players around the world.
After playing through the single-player and dying... a lot, I journeyed to the multiplayer which was quite confusing at first. To play multiplayer, you have to press the "gather" button which will open the servers window. Here you can join someones open server or a local one. However, I tried to create my own server and an error appeared stating that it couldn't be created. This, like many games, can be fixed by configuring your router and forwarding it to the appropriate port; just in case any of you get confused from seeing the same message.
After finding a server, I quickly found what made this game shine. The carnage that ensued was chaotic and intense and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The gameplay was a mix of gamemodes chosen by the host that were the same as that of single-player. Cross-play is supported for any version of the game, allowing for play between various devices.
There are 2 main gamemodes to this game when playing multiplayer. You have the standard "free for all" which can be quite hard to focus on with 8 players as so much is happening on the screen at once. You also have a team based gamemode which just pits your characters into 2 equal teams. There are also a lineup of mini-games that are available to play; these include:
- Race - See how quick you can make it around the map whilst dodging bombs
- Football - Take the flag and score a touchdown in your opponents box
- Meteor Shower - See how long you can survive against falling bombs
- Target Practice - Drop bombs into various targets to score points
- Many more...
My personal favourite was the meteor shower as it starts of all calm with only a couple of bombs being dropped, but then it quickly turns insane as tens of bombs are dropped at once resulting in a ridiculously enjoyable minute. My high-score after quite a few attempts was 1 minute and 6 seconds. Let me know in the comments if you happen to beat my score.
The main place in which the mini-games are played are in tournaments. Tournaments are timed events in which the same mini-game is accessible to anyone and after the time, whoever has the highest score receives a range of prizes. The most common being more tickets to spend at the shop.
The shop is the place where you spend your tickets. You can spend them on either, maps, mini-games, icons or different characters. However. parts of the game were locked off unless you spend your tickets; you can buy more tickets through their store. The prices range from $5, for 500 tickets (enough to buy a character), to $49.99 for 6500 tickets. I personally don't like micro-transactions, but the option is there for any of you wanting different characters without playing the game or more mini-games, to play in your server.
As this is an Oculus game, I believe that comfort plays an important role in whether you enjoy a VR title. BombSquad definitely combats this as the camera isn't moving and is instead stationary which removes most forms of nausea usually caused my VR experiences. However, as there is a lot happening on screen, sometimes your eyes can start to strain and it can become slowly uncomfortable; this may have been the amount of time that I played it though so remember to rest every now and again.
All of the assets in this game seem to be created to look like they are made out of clay. I find this great as that small little touch added a lot of character to me and fitted really well with the game's style as a whole. The explosions are also very pretty, as you may expect from a game with "bomb" in the title. However, sometimes as a lot is going on in a match, it can be hard to keep track of your player. This is because the camera seems to be quite far away from the battle and I found myself leaning forward quite a bit just so I could keep track of what was happening. That being said, there is an extensive VR setting which allows you to change around a lot of technical stuff.
The little shrieks from the characters are very amusing and sound design is good, but there are only a few music tracks in the game that loop over and over. This can result in the music getting annoying to listen to as all of it is upbeat army music, but that might just be me. There is also an option to turn down the music, but I like music in my games, I just want more variety.
After getting a bit confused at the beginning of my playtime, I started to increasingly enjoy this game. Not just for it's simplicity, but for the shear amount of fun that I was having. However, I can see the game getting tedious pretty quickly and without more mini-games and missions being added, I can't see myself playing more than a 5 hours of this title. The game is only £2.29 though so you might find the amount of time you play it justified. I personally want to see more music added to the game so I don't get bored of the same tracks after a few matches.
|Gameplay||Nice and fast gameplay that has enough variety in weapons to stay enjoyable.||Micro-transactions block mini-games and maps of from the player.|
|Comfort||The still camera results in no motion sickness experienced.||With everything happening on screen, the strain on my eyes became quite intense.|
|Quality||The cartoon style is fun and the characters are well modelled.||Sometimes the camera of the player can seem very distant.|
|Music/Sound||High quality music tracks and the little shrieks are quite amusing.||There seem to be only a few music tracks that play on loop during all games.|
"In terms of future updates: a big focus of mine going forward is going to be making online multiplayer more accessible and better behaved. It’s still rather new and rough around the edges. Before I brought the game to VR it was largely local-multiplayer focused; best with a bunch of friends with controllers sitting on a couch. Now I want to bring that same sort of feel to playing online with friends in VR. I’ve still got a lot of work to do there (better matchmaking, better handling of lag, voice chat, etc) but that’s my goal" - Developers - 22/06/2016
Review by Sam Elliott
BombSquad is available now for Oculus from the Oculus Store for, £2.29. Thank you to Eric Froemling for supplying the game and assets used in this review. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.