I love the AIM controller, I think it’s a darn good piece of tech; it’s ergonomic, intuitive, comfortable and light, creating some of the most immersive experiences I’ve ever had in the shooter genre, aided with the help of virtual reality. However, outside of last year’s Farpoint (which was created in parallel to the AIM controller), there haven’t really been many worthwhile experiences supporting Sony’s peripheral. Supermassive Games has attempted to right that wrong by offering a cover-based military shooter that embraces the gun controller to its fullest. Enter Bravo Team, a co-operative first person shooter with clear influences from Time Crisis, while promoting the AIM controller at its forefront. While it is appreciated that Sony is supporting the device, Bravo Team seems like a missed opportunity, littered with questionable decisions and coated in a general dullness that’s hard to ignore.
Bravo Team places you in the shoes of a highly skilled operative charged with escorting a president through Eastern Europe. As things seem to be going smoothly, your team is ambushed and the president is assassinated and it is up to you and your partner to make it out of the city alive. Yes, this is cookie-cutter stuff. The first mistake Bravo Team makes is attempting to make you care about the characters and the story. I could not have remembered a more boring introduction to a video game in quite some time. I was less interested in hearing about the president’s family and more interested in checking out my gun (which for me is a highlight of VR shooters), and when the ambush occurred it was a good minute before I was finally in a firefight. The story doesn’t improve from this point onwards, being the very essence of derivative and lifeless. I think Supermassive could’ve achieved the same success if they’d just cut the story completely and had the game structured as mission-based levels with little to no background at all. In Bravo Team’s case, no story would have better than the boring one on offer.
Once the fighting starts, the game starts to get better… but not by much. As expected, the AIM feels very good to use. Like Time Crisis, players can crouch behind cover and lean over or to the sides to fire at enemies, and this has a general fun factor attached to it. It wasn’t long before my knees, back and neck started to hurt from the constant leaning, squatting, standing and turning, but I can probably do with some exercise. Shooting feels generally accurate (if you’re in the play zone of the camera) but lacks any kick. Getting kills don’t feel satisfying, reloading is mapped to a button rather than a physical reloading animation and there’s little variety in the types of weapons and actions you can do. The game does offer some features as you proceed, such as stealth kills and multiple paths, but it just isn’t enough to keep you engaged.
There’s no I in Bravo Team, and there’s an option for online co-op or you can just bring along an AI buddy. The L stick on the back of the AIM controller can be used to give commands to your partner. It’s particularly useful in single player where your AI buddy is a useless meat-bag with a target strapped to his head. Thankfully, the enemy AI aren’t too bright themselves. However, I rarely used this feature and thought having voice inputs would be a better (and more immersive) option. It’s strange since Supermassive’s most recent game The Inpatient, uses voice technology in clever ways and thought it could have been the norm going forward.
The AIM controller is the real MVP
Some VR enthusiasts may be disappointed by the fact that there is no locomotion in the game, but this is not a huge deal breaker for me as the game was designed as a Time Crisis clone. However, what I do have an issue with is how the game handles the transitions from cover to cover. As you aim and select the next location you want your character to navigate to, the camera zooms out into a third person mode while you watch your player head to its destination. Coupled with the fact that you can only reload while in these animations not only breaks immersion but momentum too. It can be up to 10 seconds before you’re thrown back in the action shooting the bad guys. It’s very strange for a medium that prides itself on immersion, to make so many decisions that seem to counter that notion. Killing enemies isn’t immersive, moving around isn’t immersive, reloading isn’t immersive. For me it was purely aiming down the sights that made me feel like a soldier. The rest didn’t.
While the gunplay itself can be enough for some players there is one overarching criticism that brings down the whole experience for me and the game’s title sums it up: it’s dull, it’s generic and it’s boring. I remember seeing the reveal trailer for the game back at E3 2017, where I jokingly told my brother that the game would be called something like “Bravo Team” (#calledit) and when the name popped up, we literally laughed out loud (literally lol’d for the millennials out there). This is true for the rest of the game. The story is cliché, the visuals carry a brown and muddy undertone, the enemies are just military soldiers and besides shooting them there’s not much to the game and you could probably predict the whole game by just looking at the cover. Nothing was surprising or interesting, from the mechanics to the levels to the story.
The military shooter market is so saturated, developers need to think outside the box to make them stand out as something special
I beat the game in just two hours, but while many will feel short changed, I feel the game was being merciful as there’s alone so much of Bravo Team I could bear. It could barely hold my attention for half that time. Bravo Team does try things to keep you coming back, offering score modes, different difficulties and supporting co-op for players if they just want to jump in and shoot enemies. However the fact I wasn’t enjoying the main game to begin with, the extra modes which basically get me to replay the same game are not much of a draw.
Other than the fact that it provides another reason to dust off your AIM controller (if only briefly) there’s not much else to say about Bravo Team. It is a loveless and dreary trudge through a bland setting with an even blander narrative, and features a mind-boggling amount of immersion killing design choices. I would recommend something like Farpoint over Bravo Team any time of the day for those looking for a worthwhile shooting experience with the AIM controller while we patiently wait for the upcoming Rainbow Siege inspired Firewall: Zero Hour to come out later this year on PSVR. Sadly Bravo Team won’t be receiving an encore from me.
Reviewed on PSVR using a PlayStation 4 Pro | Review code supplied by publisher