Brigador: Mechs Galore

Intro:

Ever since i got into gaming, there have been a few genre’s in gaming that always get me excited everytime i hear of a new one. Mech games are almost always one of them. Given my love for the excellent Battle-tech, as well as my favorite anime being Neon Genesis Evangelion, its easy to see why i love the genre.

While i love mech games, the genre has it’s problems. the majority of the games tend to fall into very specific categories, mostly first person shooters. Admittedly it does make sense. One of the coolest things mech games allow is the ability to immerse yourself into the cockpit of a mech, filled with all manner of gadgets and gizmos gives it a unique aesthetic edge that most games cant match. However, if your in the mood for mechs, but don’t want to deal with another fps game, then you might find your options severely limited.

However, There exists an outlier: Brigador, a top down isometric shooter that seemed as if it would never rise beyond the title of cult classic. While it fortunately is getting more attention thanks to reviewers such as Mandalore Gaming, Brigador still deserves far more of the spotlight.

Pro: Strategic Gameplay

Brigador’s gameplay focuses heavily on both movement, positioning, and precise aiming. The mechs stomp along slowly, and stopping is basically giving the A.I a free pass to swarm you and take potshots at you as you panic, fiddle with the controls and wheel around trying to defend yourself. This is a game that requires you to plan ahead, both in the loudout screen and in-game. The most important skill you can develop is knowing when to cut and run and when to dig your heels in and give em the ole Japanese curbstomp.

The main goal of the game is to destroy certain objectives, such as planetary defense guns, communication stations, and ammo depots. Destroy all of them in a mission and you get a cash bonus. Overall, pretty simple stuff. However, this requires you to destroy every single one in each level, called districts. which varies from just two to an exhausting ten. Adding onto the difficulty: if you die, you lose 90% of your money and have to start over. So planning i essential.

You have a wide variety of tools at your disposal, with weapons ranging from standard machine guns, to mustard gas launchers, to “gatling mortars” which can take out an entire city block in one blast provided you run for your life and pray the splash damage doesnt kill you as well. In addition there are special abilities, with a staggering four pieces of equipment: emp, camouflage, smoke bomb, and an audio pulse that acts as a short range backup weapon. Add to that the different weapon mounts to mechs, as well as the mech’s stats , and you’ve got a game where youll spend quite a bit of time wondering wether to go with the safer 12 mm machine gun, or throw caution to the wind and weld on a giant death ray that runs out of ammo in about four seconds.

Even more important than weapons knowledge thought is you ability to gamble. when you consider the risk and rewards type of gameplay Brigador supports: If you die you lose any and all money you had gained. So knowing when to go after communications so that reinforcements cant be called in, or hunt down an enemy commander can mean the difference between a win or a loss. In addition, the ability to use your equipment properly to set up traps can be immensely satisfying. But the moment to moment gameplay, where you dodge and weave between enemy fire, and try to fend off an approaching hoard of space hillbillies, is where the game shines the most.

Every part of the game relies on strategic planning, and resource management which is hard enough to pull off in slower paced strategy games without wanting to headbutt the monitor. This balance, alongside excellent animation, and artstyle allows it to stand out amongst both mech games, and twin stick shooters as a genre, and blends the best of both games together.

Con: Samey, Repetitive Mech designs

The game itself looks stunning, specifically in it’s art style, and wide range of beautiful colors and sounds. It’s cyberpunk aesthetic and dramatic use of lighting give it an almost vaporwave feel to it. If not for the mech rampaging it would look like a piece of art on a Lofi Beats To Study/ Chill With livestream. However, one of the biggest problems I have with the game revolves around it’s mech designs. and how they tend to lack distinction, both from a visual and gameplay perspective.

For starters, the mechs tend to blend together on the selection screen, as they are shown exclusively in a dark red, making it difficult to tell apart. Even if the devs patched in a feature that added different shaders to them, there would still be an issue with how they look on screen. About 75-80% of the mechs are either some variation of cylinders, squares, boxes, and scrawny legs. Mixed with the above stated red, and i honestly couldnt tell you which mech was my favorite, as i just selected whichever mech gave me the stats i was looking for. Even worse, the unique looking mechs are often relegated to one faction: The Corvid, which are guerilla fighters who quite literally dug through a graveyard to find old cars to tape together before sending them off to the front lines.

Put a gun to my head and ask me what was the name, weapon hardpoints, and basic stats of the last mech I played as and I wouldn’t be able to answer, which is a real shame. There could have been plenty of interesting mech designs, like a tripod shaped one that carried long range artillery, scouts who could run in a straight line fast but have difficulty turning, etc. Fortunately, the devs have realized this and are adding new abilities for some mechs, such as giving them automatically firing weapon hardpoints separate from you main loadout (Yay!) or a straight up damage reduction (Boo!). But for now, the individual mechs are relegated to little more than their stats and random clicking, rather than being interesting and memorable in their own right.

Pro: Weapon Designs

While the mechs may be a bit more on the generic side, the weapons are the complete opposite, in which the majority all stand out. Each mech supports two weapon hardpoints, with each weapon placed in a subcategory of turret, small, main, heavy, and auxillary. Strong audio and animation gives them a weighty feel, and seeing enemies explode on screen from a well placed howitzer blast will never get old.

In addition, the differing hardpoints allows you to be creative and take risks in order to potentially give you an edge. Will you play it safe, putting on a simple heavy cannon/ machine gun combo, or will you strap on two mortars and active camo and pray the enemies never come within eyesight of you? The choice is yours if you want to be practical or and it gives a satisfying rush when your running around with a mech with the speed of a cheetah on cocaine and testosterone supplements and sprotection of a cardboard box wrapped in duct tape and bubble wrap wielding an enormous chemical launcher (which i took to calling my “Mobile War Crime Platform)”

Mixed: Bad Campaign, Good Backstory

When i checked out the campaign tag I was expecting a decent enough story, nothing on the scale of mass effect obviously. But with a game as good looking, polished, and fluid as Brigador is, the campaign ends up being a shallow, wasteful endeavor, as your given a set loadout and tasked with completing a shortened version of the freelance missions. Worse yet, there’s no narrative, other than some decent flavor text in the beginning, but lacking any emotional weight, rendering everything pointless

Now thats my thoughts on the campaign, but the story is completely different. In the main menu there is a separate tab titled “Lore” In which you can buy story beats, faction backstory, vehicle descriptions etc. I remember being quite impressed with the amount of lore that just went into the civillian’s yellow raincoat that they wear in an emergency. It’s not just a dry telling of events either, it’s laced throughout with black comedy and a wicked sense of humor that makes you actually want to keep reading. Of course a few bits of lore is generic and samey, and some descriptions come off as super short and dry (Hopefully for comedic purposes)

Truly the lore runs deep in this game

In my opinion Brigador has Destiny syndrome. The story had the potential to be great, but somewhere along the game development conveyor belt they forgot to put it into the actual game, panicked, and just bolted the story into it’s own, barely marketed lore section.

Conclusion

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