Free To Play: Broken Ground Review

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Broken Ground is a turn-based game where you control a single player on a 2D map. With up to 6 players per match, the aim is to use an arsenal of quirky weapons to kill the other players before they kill you. There is also a team option, which allows for Team VS Team game style rather than Player VS Player.

The signature 15 to 30-second turn rounds create an INTENSE gameplay experience while you frantically try to move into position and fire weapons at your opponents.

The game’s home screen is cluttered, to say the least, with a cluster of buttons, multiplayer servers, game news, a wide range of profile buttons, and ambiguous game settings.

THE CLUTTER IS UNBEARABLE.

Home Broken Ground

I’m disappointed that I was not even offered a brief tutorial outlining the basics of this cockpit-like control panel on the first launch of the game. The style of the graphic user interface (GUI) feels similar to that of a mobile game, with clunky buttons and oversized design elements.

After being slammed with this overwhelming introduction to the game, the first thing I notice is the excellent quality of the menu’s text. The screenshots, which are on Windows, show crisp, optimised text with a clean interface.

Using OS X, quality contrasts with the game’s sharp level design and impressive explosion animations; the unoptimised text instantly sticks out like a sore thumb. Maybe the developers have neglected the OS X release, which happens all too often with indie game releases, and upon further research, I seem to be correct.

GAMEPLAY – 7.5/10

After navigating through the complex menu system, I manage to get into a ​practice match to get the hang of the controls. Target appears in various places on the map to destroy each. As you kill targets, new targets pop up in different locations.

This practice mode gives me an excellent chance to get the hang of the game style. Controls are straightforward, with left and right movement (A & D keys), weapon selection using W and Space-Bar to shoot. The weapons are tricky to use, with an extraordinarily touchy aim and power.

Once you’ve found the sweet spot while in a multiplayer game, you need to avoid moving your player or aim for the rest of the match… Or until the enemy player dares to move just a few inches, in which you have to start the entire aiming process ​ALL over again.

There are various weapons to choose from, ranging from grenades, missile launchers, airstrikes and baseball bats. Each weapon has a set amount of damage inflicted upon enemy players with limited amounts of ammo for each. Various weapons are unlocked through levelling up, while others need to be purchased with real-life cash. Though there were numerous reviews on Steam roasting the overpowered ​premium weapons, I didn’t feel any unfair advantage while playing multiplayer matches.

Weapons Selection Broken Ground

The game has a ‘daily’ spin feature that allows players to win free random ammo packs for weapons. The clunky mobile type graphic interface, the pay-to-play weapons and the daily spin feature are all yet another feature of Broken Grounds that reminds me of a pay-to-play style mobile app crossed with a flash style early internet game.

Daily Spin Broken Ground

Overall, the gameplay is well polished, with only a few negatives. A feature that Worms games had that Broken Ground doesn’t is the ability to hit enemy players off the map – and into the water or abyss below. I can understand the developers’ reasoning for not implementing this feature into the game – most likely to prolong multiplayer match length – but I can’t help but feel the current mechanics are somewhat awkward.

Upon hitting an enemy player with a baseball bat, the character will shoot upwards along an ‘invisible’ outer map wall… I feel a better solution to this would have to be to design some bordering indestructible terrain along map borders.

Though weapons are frustratingly difficult to use at points and certain things feel a little half-finished, the game is enjoyable. Considering the game is free-to-play and captured my attention for a few hours.

GRAPHICS – 6.5/10

Practice Mode Broken Ground

The game’s interface and graphics are pretty nice. The map features a less-goofy Worm-inspired map terrain with cartoon-like textures and looping video backgrounds. Audio samples match the looping background video, making for quite an atmospheric experience.

An atmospheric experience FULL OF EXPLOSIONS AND GUNFIRE!

The weapon animations are my favourite aspect of the game’s design, with bright colours, impressive audio samples and smooth, crisp lines. In many ways, I feel Broken Ground nails visual design with a coherent and immersive aesthetic.

The characters are clumsy and oafish soldiers in hilarious outfits. While they do fit the overall design scheme of the game, the movement animation feels a little half baked. This is probably the only flaw I’ve found in the visual aspect.

AUDIO – 8.5/10

While trying not to directly compare Broken Ground with the collection of 2D Worms games, the remarkable similarity in gameplay, graphics & audio makes it essential to touch upon. Inspired by the soundtracks and audio samples of the Worms 2 game, Broken Ground does a brilliant job of nailing the game’s intense, punchy explosions and dramatic drum sound effects to fit the game’s fast-paced 30 second turns.

I attempted to use another word other than dramatic to describe the game’s atmospheric electric guitar solos, but dramatic is really the perfect word. All music ceases immediately upon entering a match, resulting in dead silence apart from explosions, atmospheric sounds and the metallic drum sound to signify the end of a turn.

I feel the developers did a far better job perfecting the game’s audio experience than the graphics… Turning an otherwise mediocre game into something playable and enjoyable.

FINAL THOUGHTS – 7.5/10

Broken Ground is a turn-based free-to-play game by the Bad Viking Team. Released for Mac OSX and Windows on the Steam Store, it plays homage to the classic Worms 2 game with its GI Joe-like graphics, variety of funky weapons and destructible terrain. Released in April of 2018, the developers released regular updates with new weapons and bug fixes.

Though confusing at first, I warmed to the game quickly. The fast-paced matches, stunning audio effects & quirky design skills left me captivated for hours. I feel the simple and repetitive nature of the matches would get tiring quickly, but the free-to-play aspect is hard to beat.

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