3..2..1... Grenades! Review -- An Alright Game With Great Potential
Ah, the days of sitting on a couch with friends, surrounded by packets of crisps, Coca-Cola cans, energy drinks, and empty pizza boxes as your group plays a co-op or multiplayer game, working together or battling out for bragging rights. It certainly brings back some good memories from a form of gaming that was gone for a long time.
But in more recent years, it seems that nostalgia has led many a developer to create their own multiplayer party or co-op games. With titles like Gang Beasts, Screencheat and Move or Die, there is no shortage of such games these days.
The latest title to be added to that growing list is 3...2...1... Grenades, a co-op multiplayer FPS game developed by indie developer Banyango. Despite the game having a lot of wonderful potential, its gameplay lacks depth and its single player campaign is quite monotonous when played in short bursts.
Save Grenades Co from the Horror it Unleashed
You take on the role of a rookie soldier sent into a factory called Grenades Co, a producer of grenades, to take care of a problem. While making grenades is their main game, the shady company has also been meddling in other research and development endeavors.
That new form of research involves teleportation and opening portals, which has resulted in the factory being taken over by a massive monster -- and all the robots within the facility going rogue. Your job is to go in, destroy the robots, earn and find golden grenades, and then destroy the giant creature, saving the day.
Any fan of the FPS genre will begin to see the influences on the game's plot. Essentially, it is Half-Life but with robots and one giant monster to deal with. It holds the Half-Life flag so high that it even has a level that is designed after Xen, the alien world of the Half-Life universe, as well as a room that is similar to where Gordon Freeman sets off the resonance cascade.
While I don't mind a developer being influenced by others when creating and crafting plot, when that plot contains almost no originality, then I have a problem. This is essentially Half-Life but with arena-based combat against robots, where you eventually make your way to the Lovecraftian horror you need to defeat.
Along with that, there is zero consistency between the gameplay and the plot. As you progress, you play in all forms of arenas, from trains to islands to alien planets and so on. There is no explanation as to how doors in a grenade factory lead to these locations. If the doors led to portals, it would be understandable, but they are not depicted as portals, so it's kind of weird.
At the end of the day, the plot does as it is intended to, even if it isn't that creative and has many holes. The problems that the plot has isn't a game breaker because the gameplay is the primary focus, of course, -- it just would have been nice for the plot to be a better executed.
Fun yet Hollow Gameplay
There are two different game modes in 3...2...1... Grenades! One is the quest mode, which contains the plot, and the other is Quickplay. Quickplay allows the player to set up a match of their preference either against bots or with friends. (Note: Levels and game modes need to be unlocked through playing the campaign). Here they get to choose the match type, victory conditions, and other preferences. In Quest mode, the player must make their way through the Grenade factor winning matches against bots. To progress, you must obtain golden grenades which are awarded to you by winning matches.
In Quest mode, the player must make their way through the Grenade factor winning matches against bots. To progress, you must obtain golden grenades, which are awarded by winning matches.
When you have enough golden grenades, you will be able to unlock a new door leading to a new level, eventually progressing to the boss fight, of which there are two in total. Each level has a total of five different matches, except for one, which has four. Each of the matches has its own victory conditions and quirks.
For example, some matches will have tiny characters, others will be in slow-mo or even have all characters or grenades invisible. There are also different game modes like paintball, which is like Splatoon, capture the pug, which is like playing basketball with a pug, and one mode where you need to drop your opponents off of a destroyable platform.
Mixing these game modes with the many quirks that are on offer creates an array of varying and fun matches for you to experience. But they aren't without their problems. Because the game focuses solely on grenades as a weapon, the levels are very empty. They each contain a more powerful grenade pick up, but that is about it.
Due to this, even with the many different modes and preferences to choose from, the gameplay feels hollow and has no longevity. Also, some of those zany match changes like slow-mo, tiny characters, invisible characters and invisible grenades, do nothing to fix this glaring gameplay pothole.
Instead, what should be done with the buffs and quirks is turn them into power-ups to fill the levels with. Having a power up that makes the player tiny or invisible or makes grenades invisible would be a real game changer on the field. It would add a whole new level of depth to the game that it is currently missing and bring it from being something bland to exciting.
The gameplay to 3...2...1... Grenades! isn't bad, it is just missing depth.
Skill Levels to Suit Everyone
The bots in the game can have their difficulty adjusted to suit the player's skill level. At any point while in the overworld, the player can approach a robot that is standing in the center of the level-select room to change the game's difficulty. There are three difficulties to choose from: Easy, Medium, and Hard, each changing up the intelligence and skill level of the enemies.
The higher the difficulty, the more accurate and agile enemies are, making it harder to hit them. Easy difficulty is for those who are new to FPS games, medium is for experienced players of the genre, and hard is for veterans looking for a good challenge.
No matter how experienced you are at playing these arena style combat games, there is a game mode to suit all.
Mostly Good Level Design, but More Hazards are Needed
The level design for 3...2...1... Grenades! is good for the most part. The levels are not too big (where you spend ages looking for something to kill) but also not so small that they are constantly crowded. They are colorful, have plenty of environmental variety, and are generally enjoyable.
The best levels are some of the later ones because they contain hazards like traffic -- where players can be run over. It would be great if more levels had imaginative ways of dying for reckless play, as very few levels actually have possibilities for environmental death.
Again, as previously mentioned, the levels do need a bit of beefing up, with the likes of power-ups and the like. But despite needing a bit more depth and a few more environmental hazards, the levels are genuinely good and really help bring out the fun of the game.
A Game Best Played with Friends
3...2...1...Grenades! is a game that is entirely in its element when played in multiplayer, be that destroying each other or playing the campaign in co-op. The single player campaign is fun, but best only played in short bursts, as it quickly becomes monotonous.
There is a great game in 3...2...1...Grenades! with the potential to join the ranks of the many other local co-op games. But it needs more depth than it currently has to stay entertaining for longer than one evening, a pizza, and a few beers.
Right now, it isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a game that is simply just alright. A few design changes, a bit of refinement, and polish (along with adding in online multiplayer) would make a big difference.
Note: A copy of 3...2...1...Grenades! was provided for this review.