If The A-Team, Left 4 Dead, Mars Attacks and Diablo had a weird, four-way love-child, their doctor would be giving the spank of life to Bunch of Heroes. Produced and developed by NGD Studios (creators of the MMO Regnum/Realms Online) Bunch of Heroes is a zany, top-down shooter with aliens and zombies galore. Sounds awesome, right? I thought so, but was still a little hesitant about trying it out.
This is not the sort of game I’d likely pick out of a crowded ‘New Release’ list on Steam but decided to give it a spin nonetheless. What I discovered is that Bunch of Heroes is basically a zombie shooter with a light tone and tongue-in-cheek attitude but, while it hits a few targets, a lot of what it tries to do falls slightly short of the mark.
Developer: NGD Studios
Publisher: NGD Studios
Platform: Steam PC (Reviewed)
Players: Single-Player, Co-op, Multiplayer
Release: September 22nd 2011
Price: $9.99 USD
Before I started I was given the choice of levels and one of four characters: Agent Liu the super-spy; Jared Joe the all-American quarterback; El Comandante the Cuban revolutionary; or Captain Smith the English Air Force ace. I picked Jared-Joe because he looked like he eats army tanks like the rest of us eat Weet-Bix and, lets be honest, who wouldn’t want that kind of guy protecting the world? So, after making what I felt was the best possible choice, I entered the first level.
As any action game should, Bunch of Heroes delivers like a kick to the face, immediately throwing you in head-first (assuming it’s still attached after the kick) with gun in hand. However, I’m the type of gamer that loves to have the scene set with a little cutscene or story. Disappointment struck when the first level loaded and I was immediately instructed to start clearing the area of zombie invaders. What, no alien-zombie, cow-abducting cutscene or 14th generation farmer to narrate the events leading up to me defending this small country farm? Alas, no, but I continued on, determined that my gun-toting American quarterback was going to kick some zombie butt.
With no tutorial to speak of, and it having been quite a while since I’d played a game like this, I did have to check the controls page via the pause menu; however in no time at all I was blasting, punching, rolling and throwing the odd grenade with ease. It wasn’t long before I realised I’d gone through about 5 different weapons in the space of 10 minutes, and was quite enjoying the variety on offer. From a crossbow with exploding bolts or your standard shotgun, to a Tesla electricity gun or gravity manipulator, the weapon choices are diverse and can be easily found by shooting, or bashing open green crates scattered throughout each level. With that said, I did find myself only using one or two (specifically the crossbow with exploding bolts) when I could get my hands on them and completely avoiding others as if using them would give me some form of the black plague.
Speaking of things infected by a plague; zombies! Everything, besides yourself and the occasional NPC in Bunch of Heroes seems to be a zombie, which is not necessarily a bad thing but can get quite repetitive. I love a good zombie game or movie as much as the next guy, but when they’re the only thing I can blow to oblivion I’m prone to getting a little bored. It may be that in later levels the variety picks up, but I did find that even in one particular level, on Mars for example, what I expected to be aliens were also zombies.
The lack of variety applied to maps too, with basic paths leading to generic, similar goals. From the escorting of an NPC to a specific place, protecting a certain area for a certain amount of time or destroying something, quests didn’t feel varied enough to hold my interest and with little to no story they also felt slightly pointless, as though the only reason for completing one quest was so you could get to the next. The only thing that redeemed Bunch of Heroes (though only slightly) for me, was its soundtrack and cartoony art style. The use of a rock and roll soundtrack gave the impression of being in a real action movie which I really enjoyed, and the cartoony graphics certainly gave it a very wacky aspect.
Unfortunately when I tried to access the multiplayer, I found no one else online but whether that was due to no one playing or something to do with Steam, I’m not sure 100% sure, however, Bunch of Heroes is the kind of game you and three friends would sit down and play to kill a few good hours. I really wanted to enjoy Bunch of Heroes, but its lack of story, overall repetitive quests, levels and simplified gameplay left me feeling bored after only 30 minutes. All-in-all, these are its biggest flaws and while it won’t appeal to everyone, if you’ve got four friends and the extra cash I can see it being good for a bit of social fun.
6.0 – Above Average. Fun but it is let down by some questionable design choices. While it has its own identity, it doesn’t go beyond its own limits.