Gun Bros is the latest Windows Phone game to be ported over from iOS and Android by Glu Mobile, having previously brought over a number of games, including the similarly ‘Freemium’ (Free with in-app purchases available) Bug Village.
Bug Village was, ironically enough, blighted by bugs and cemented Glu’s reputation as a poor quality developer for the Windows Phone platform.
Gun Bros was announced alongside another planned Freemium game, Contract Killer, which was released not long after. They are the latest Xbox Live games to be released for free on the Windows Phone (I’ve reviewed all the other games here), giving gamers the chance to get 200G in achievements without paying a dime unless they choose to through in-app purchasing.
So does Gun Bros redeem Glu’s reputation on Windows Phone, or bury it?
Gun Bros: The Game
Gun Bros is a twin-stick shooter, in some ways playing like a 1980s action flick in video game form as you control one of two ‘Bros’ (plural of bro, as in brother) as you kill wave after wave of enemies across multiple planets.
There is a vague plot, enough to enjoy the game without it really trying to get in the way, but then plot is never really the point of a twin-stick shooter.
The point of these games, generally, is to kill thousands of enemies until your thumbs are crooked and sore and you realise how vital they were to human evolution as you find yourself incapable of performing even the most rudimentary of tasks without them.
In that respect Gun Bros knocks the competition out cold.
I’ve reviewed Z0MB1ES (on teh ph0ne) before and as much as I like that game, Gun Bros really is a step above in the twin-stick shooter genre.
Play takes place across multiple planets, which act as different stages, and while broadly speaking it only offers minor variants on the shooter format, e.g. slightly different enemies and environments, it’s enough to encourage repeat plays through the ten ‘revolutions’ on every planet, each made up of fifty waves.
Xbox Live integration
What makes Gun Bros really stand out from what the rest of the Windows Phone marketplace has to offer is how it links with your Xbox Live accounts, giving the opportunity to have an Xbox Live friend play as your ‘Bro’, either as a co-operative ‘bot’ while you play solo or with live multiplayer (though I can’t figure out how to do this, absolutely honestly but I’ll come on to the games shortcomings soon).
Playing with an Xbox Live bro makes it much easier to progress through the waves, as they bring their upgraded weapons and armour with them and it also means you share the experience gained, regardless of whether they play ‘live’ with you or as a bot.
Finally there are ‘challenges’ to complete, basically identical to how they work on Halo: Reach, giving you a bonus when, for instance, you kill 300 enemies without dying. If one or more bros also completes the challenge your bonus increases, encouraging you to get as many friends on Windows Phone as possible to sign up to the game. It’s an obvious mechanic to rope people into playing the game but it does work.
The range of weapons and armour is also encouraging, with a number of different weapon types allowing for a limited strategy of sorts to be employed in the game. Do you go for a short ranged but powerful shot gun? Or weak but sprayed out rapid fire?
A number of weapons need dollars, as opposed to coins, to buy and the quickest way to gain dollars is to buy them with actual Microsoft points, i.e. real money. It’s up to you if you want to buy them, but the game can be 100% completed without and there is enough opportunity to accrue cash that I wouldn’t recommend it personally.
As implied by the suggestion this could be 1980s action film, the game is filled with boyish humour, which works for the most part, but the gratuitous images of semi-naked women feels trite and misogynistic, rather than tongue-in-cheek. The game would be better off without them.
As with most, if not all twin-stick shooters, the game is essentially a grind by its very nature, so some of the criticism levelled at the game because of this feels unfair. Likewise the achievements are actually pretty easy to get, especially compared to Bug Village. Achievements for completing so many perfect waves, buying so many guns or killing so many enemies are par for the course for a game of this nature and it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to unlock most, if not all of the achievements with some sustained play.
Of course if you don’t like twin-stick shooters then the grinding nature of the achievements will be an annoyance, but if you enjoy playing the game then the achievements will pop one by one as you progress through the game.
Based on the above then, Gun Bros should be a stunning redemption for Glu, yes?
Unless it receives a serious update then Gun Bros will bury Glu’s reputation, as it is even buggier than Bug Village.
It would take too long to go through every irritant, but briefly put, the Xbox Live access is sporadic at best, even when playing on wifi, there are numerous graphical glitches, the challenges freeze meaning you can’t complete them, and worst of all, there was a reset on your weapons and armour meaning you were only left with the stuff you had equipped and anything else you had bought was wiped.
Given that some people had spent actual money on this stuff, it’s akin to taking people’s money for nothing and Glu needs to act fast.
This is not to mention how unintuitive some of the layout and menu options are, as I mentioned above it is supposed to have wifi multiplayer but I cannot figure out how to access it, even after going through the help menu.
As it is Glu have issued a statement acknowledging that they’re struggling to port their games over to Windows Phone bug-free.
Given that Bug Village was released months ago and had numerous bugs before the release of Gun Bros and Contract Killer (which is similarly buggy) this statement does little more than take the piss.
If Glu can iron out the many bugs that fill Gun Bros, they have a premium title on their hands. Looking at the iOS version, it looks like extra planets are ready to be introduced along with a multiplayer deathmatch, further increasing the replayability of the game.
Quite simply it has the potential to be the hands-down best twin-stick shooter on Windows Phone.
If they cannot resolve Gun Bros’ issues however, then sadly it’s simply not worth taking the risk on any Glu games now or at any point in the future and frankly Microsoft should ban them from the marketplace until they sort it out.