I love everything about Brigador, I love that it’s a throwback to top down isometric shooters with an emphasis on destruction, I love its neon bright art style, and I really love its 80’s inspired, synth-heavy soundtrack. Piloting a giant mech, tank, or hover ship though a futuristic, cyberpunk city while using massively destructive weapons to lay waste to all that stand in my way, sounds like a dream come true.
Unfortunately, there is one thing that keeps Brigador from becoming my newest obsession, tank controls.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of the control scheme, let me give you a basic rundown of the rest of the game. Brigador takes place in the far future on the planet Solo Nobre, a planet colonized by humans at the farthest reaches of space. The game’s story is intentionally vague yet still intriguing in the game’s first levels; the ruler of Solo Nobre, referred to as “The Great Leader”, is dead and now the planet’s various political factions have begun battling for control of the planet.
You play as a contractor for the SNC (The Solo Nobre Concern) which is one of these factions. This information is told to the player in bits and pieces, either through mission briefings or through purchasable “Lore”, which is bought at the in-game store for money that is accumulated during missions. This narrative structure is pulled off masterfully, each new bit of story deepens your understanding of the world enough to be satisfying, but leaves enough mystery to compel the player to keep playing.
Each mission basically breaks down the same way; enter the level, destroy your targets, and escape. Although the mission objectives are similar from level to level; the number of ways that Brigador lets you complete each mission is impressive. Brigador gives players a wealth of customizable options to match their play style. In the pre-mission menu, players choose a pilot, a vehicle from one of three classes (mech, tank, hovercraft) and then has outfit your vehicle with two weapons and a special ability.
Brigador is very effective in making these options look and feel nuanced enough to not be carbon copies of one another. Each new weapon and vehicle, looks and handles differently and bring their own advantages and disadvantages to the fight. The sheer number of customization options made available to the player in Brigador ensures that missions can be played and replayed a number of different ways and deliver a fresh experience with each playthrough.
The missions in Brigador can be tackled in a number of different ways. Whether players want to use a small vehicle outfitted with cloaking abilities to sneak past enemy forces, or roll into battle with a dreadnaught fitted with heavy weaponry, the choice is up to them. But where the gameplay really shines is in the fast and furious combat, using your vehicle’s weapons to spray out a fan of destruction causing explosive chain reactions that level buildings and enemies alike. But it’s during these combat sequences that the control scheme really shows its shortcomings.
The game’s “tank controls” means that the mouse, which controls aiming/shooting is independent from your vehicle’s directional movement, which is controlled by the keyboard. While this control scheme is nothing new for games, especially when it comes to vehicles, Brigador’s locked camera angle and need for precision aiming makes this control scheme very frustrating.
In Brigador, when the combat is at its most frantic, the player must be able to both shoot and move to survive, but the game’s camera is so zoomed out that it’s almost impossible to track your vehicle’s movement and accurately fire at enemies at the same time. Too often I’d be in the middle of laying down heavy fire while I thought I was still moving only to be quickly destroyed because I had unknowingly steered my vehicle into getting stuck in a corner.
This may sound like that the controls just require some getting used to, but in all my time playing I never felt like I was getting to a point where the aiming and movement felt natural. This isn’t helped by the game’s aiming system, which is very finicky, often requiring precise cursor placement for your rounds to hit home. This problem is somewhat remedied by pressing the “E” button, which orients your vehicle to face the direction you are aiming, but the time it takes to reorient your vehicle is painfully slow, and there’s no way to toggle the “E” keys function, so I often would just hold it down the entire level.
I know I sound critical of the game’s control scheme but I do want to emphasize that it’s definitely intentional, the developer wasn’t being inept or lazy in designing the control scheme, it was a deliberate choice to make it a part of the game, which is why I’m hesitant to call it a flaw in the game; it could just be that it just isn’t to my taste. And despite that, Brigador is blast.
Last Updated: June 24, 2016