Supermassive Games has gone all-in on PlayStation VR at this point. Having already worked on three different VR games, Bravo Team is their fourth release on the platform in less than two years. This co-op military shooter tasks you with escaping from a citywide civil war. It’s also genuinely the worst game Supermassive Games has put out, something baffling by a studio that should know better. So what went wrong?
The game opens with two members of the titular Bravo Team (who go by the code names Scarecrow and Tinman) escorting the president of a fictional country to her home. Of course, things go wrong before they get there. Mysteriously masked terrorists blow up the car in front of them, which kills the president. Scarecrow and Tinman are left for dead, so the two soldiers need to escape the city they’re trapped in.
That’s basically as complicated as the plot gets. There is a weird twist at the end attempting at a shock, but it doesn’t end up making any sense. The final cutscene contains a weird shoehorned in moral as well. It’s almost like the writers realize there isn’t really a point to the story up until then.
Before you start, you get the option to play with either an AI partner or a human player online. If it’s an option, grabbing a co-op buddy is the way to go. It won’t actually make the game much more fun, but it will get rid of your terrible AI partner. I watched in confusion as my computer pal continuously ran between two points, screamed about nonexistent enemies, and took pot shots at nothing. The only real advantage the AI had was his obscene amount of health. I never really felt like I needed to babysit him, and he revived me pretty consistently.
While it may look the part at first glance, Bravo Team isn’t quite a full first-person shooter. Instead, it’s closer to an on-rails shooter. You can only move your character by pointing at a piece of cover and hitting a “move to” button. The camera then switches to the third person and the game plays a clip of your character moving where you pointed. If you’ve ever wanted to see just how unnecessarily long a game could make getting from point A to point B, Bravo Team has you covered. Considering several games have already managed free movement in the first person, I have no clue why Bravo Team couldn’t just do that. The feature is disorienting and constantly caused me to lose what I was actually aiming at.
Right from the start, shooting feels off. You begin with an assault rifle and a pistol, and you’ll be using these two weapons for the majority of the game. About halfway through you’ll find a shotgun that is only useful in rare indoor environments. You also get a sniper rifle near the end of the game. The weapon has a life span of a single battle, before you move back inside for the last few fights and it promptly becomes useless.
Some of these weapons have scopes, but they’re often inaccurate. It felt like my gun was firing slightly under my aiming reticle rather than at it. This is assuming the scope works at all. Often, I’d aim only to find that the reticle had vanished. Other times, the scope completely blacks out for no discernable reason. This is also assuming the gun works. There were times where I pulled the trigger and nothing happened. Much like a jukebox in need of a punch, it took some jostling with my motion controllers before I could fire again.
After finishing my first firefight, I probably could have shut the game off, as I’d experienced everything there was on offer. Simply put, every fight plays out exactly the same. You move forward through generic and boring levels. Enemies inevitably attack, and you stop to shoot them using the same weapons and tactics as your previous encounter. Most enemies do little other than stand in one spot and occasionally pop up to shoot, making combat absurdly boring. I mentioned the bad partner AI before, and enemies seem to have the same problems. You can catch them as they run back and forth between cover or just stare at a wall begging for death.
What’s even worse is how Bravo Team employes decade old strategies of bad FPS design. You’ll run into rooms that spawn infinite enemies until you move forward, a practice already exposed as little more than artificial difficulty padding. If you’re wondering, it still leads to the same problems. Advancing forward isn’t fun, and it’s a slog of trying to get through during those very rare lulls between endless hoards of enemies. Sometimes enemies spawn behind you, which I guess is supposed to add a challenge but usually resulted in cheap deaths. Some enemies, especially those armored ones, were pretty blatant bullet sponges that required several clips to drop. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen FPSes in their prime, so it feels weird that Bravo Team has decided to ignore all that.
The only attempt at changing things up is the addition of an occasional stealth section. These are awkward at best, as the game is clearly not built for them. All you really do is wait for an enemy to stop near cover. You move to that cover and your character will stealth kill them. It’s often boring waiting for an enemy to finally decide to move to that one perfect spot. At least none of the stealth is mandatory.
After you finish the campaign, which takes three to four hours, you can replay it as a score attack. This is the exact same boring campaign you already played, but now there are points. If that appeals to you, then more power to you. I found all the same issues from the campaign showed up here.
As far as graphics go, Bravo Team technically looks decent enough, but for some reason, my character feels like he’s a few sizes too large for the environment. Everything just feels a little too small, and I began to get the impression that I was a giant wandering around in a land not made for me. There’s also a weird lack of any soundtrack, which makes the already terrible fights lack a lot of the oomph they probably should have.
It is absolutely baffling how truly bad Bravo Team really is. Nothing about this game screams “this is a final product ready for release”. This feels like a prototype made by people who should know better. I can’t figure out most of the design decisions for the life of me. If you have PlayStation VR, you’d be better off getting anything else, as this may be among the worst games I’ve played for the platform.
Bravo Team was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
Bravo Team has a barebones story, glitchy gameplay, boring combat, brain-dead AI, terrible stealth, and more issues than I could possibly list in a single review summary box. This team needs to be retired.
- I Got to Use the Aim Controller Again
- Barebones Plot with Shoehorned Moral
- Awkward Movement System
- Dumb AI
- Boring and Repetitive
- Terrible Stealth