Boom Brigade combines elements of real-time strategy, tower defense and route-tracing games to create a brief, but very fun and promising game that feels right at home on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. It looks and sounds great, controls well and can be genuinely addictive once you get the hang of it.
In Boom Brigade, you are tasked with defending your bunker from waves of alien attackers by drawing paths around the battlefield for your soldiers to follow. This unique mechanic sets Boom Brigade apart from other defense and strategy games and though there is plenty of room for improvement, there is also the potential for this game to spawn a whole sub-genre of its own. Read More…
You begin a game of Boom Brigade by selecting one of three unit types - Minigun, Shotgun and Bazooka - to deploy onto the battlefield. Each reinforcement has a unique attack range, health level, speed of movement and damage rating. Your first unit will have to survive several waves of enemies before receiving backup, so choosing the right one is important. I found the Minigun to be the most well-rounded unit to start with because of its high health rating.
At first, enemy waves will contain but a few attackers, making it easy to learn the route-tracing mechanic and general strategy employed in Boom Brigade. In most cases, encircling your enemies as they approach your bunker will get the job done. As the game progresses though, enemies will start to appear from all areas of the battlefield, making route choice more and more important.
After every few waves, you will be given a chance to add another unit to your brigade and are allowed a maximum of three at once. Once you have two or more units on the battlefield, the game gets much more tricky. Keeping your units moving, crossing their paths and giving them enough time to reload are all key elements to keeping your brigade alive and your bunker safe.
As enemies get dispatched, some will drop items like cash, health pick-ups and in extremely rare cases, a reinforcement. Cash can be used for upgrading your unit types or repairing the bunker after it takes damage. Grabbing the health pick-ups is very important, because it’s the only opportunity you have to “repair” your units. I’d have liked to have seen an option to spend cash on repairing units, but this may have taken away from the game’s difficulty somewhat.
Boom Brigade can be very difficult at first and even after spending several hours with it, my play sessions rarely last more than 15 minutes. By that point, the enemy waves are simply overpowering and keeping your entire brigade alive is a real challenge. It is difficult in a good way though and not frustrating. Almost every time my game ended, I wanted to restart immediately to try and make it further. I honestly don’t know how many enemy waves there are in the game, but every once in a while you will encounter a boss wave that will really test your mettle. After 15 minutes, I’ve usually seen four or five boss waves and have had three units on the battlefield at once.
Boom Brigade feels very much like a real-time strategy game once it gets going and the route-tracing mechanic seen in games like Harbour Master lends itself to careful and strategic planning amid chaos. Your units can be stopped mid-route by tapping on them and you can also target a specific enemy to target first by tapping on it. Combining the route-tracing, bunker defense and real-time action helps Boom Brigade to feel familiar and fresh at the same time and I can see its formula being copied by other developers in the future; it’s very fun and addictive.
The major drawback for me is the fact that there is only one battlefield and bunker layout in the game. The enemy waves are also the same every time you play, so it can feel repetitive. New maps and enemies, as well as randomized enemy patterns will add much to the longevity of Boom Brigade in future updates, as would online leader boards. Developer 10tons (Belowscape, Azkend) has also announced several new features planned for future updates like an expanded options in the bunker store, an in-game encyclopaedia and even a new Pyro unit that can be seen here.
At the time of this review, Boom Brigade is being offered at $1.99. When factoring in the already-announced updates and the massive potential that this game has for additional features like multiplayer matches, I’d consider this a must-have title despite its current lack of content.
The level of polish in Boom Brigade certainly sways my recommendation as well. Even though your units and the enemies are small on an iPhone/iPod Touch screen, everything looks fantastic and runs without a hitch. Details like the footprints of your units, smoke from your weapons and spilled alien blood really add to the level of immersion. The game’s art is cartoony in nature, similar to games like Team Fortress 2, Advance Wars or Metal Slug.
There isn’t much in the way of a soundtrack in Boom Brigade outside of the title screen, but the sound effects are quite good. Weapon fire sounds meaty, aliens make appropriate squishy sounds and reinforcements chatter a bit when you dispatch them. Unfortunately, the option to listen to your music library is not available at this time.
Boom Brigade’s novel approach to strategy and defense gaming is a success and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing copycat titles soon enough. What it lacks in content, it makes up for with presentation, attention to detail and genuine, addictive fun that is perfect for a commute. There’s plenty of room to improve, but also plenty to work with for future updates. If you want to see the future of iPhone/iPod Touch strategy gaming now, I suggest you try out Boom Brigade.
+ Route-Tracing Mechanic
+ Great Graphics and Sound Effects
+ Challenging but not Frustrating
- Only One Map
- No Online Leaderboards
Game Forward Score: 3/5
Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward
Boom Brigade (iPhone/iPod Touch) Quick Facts:
Release Date: Sept 18, 2009 (v1.0)
Price: $1.99 US/CAN
iTunes Rating: 9+