It finally happened. I finally played Gang Beasts. After watching people online play it, and after a heavily endorsed recommendation from a friend, a review opportunity arose, and Gang Beasts is now in my possession. In this multiplayer game, mayhem and mishaps are a given as you fight to be the last one standing in a battle of physics, frantic attacks, and knowing the lay of the land. This is Beef City, and this is your time to shine.
Gang Beasts is essentially a physics heavy brawler for 1-8 players, local or online. Note that you can bring your local friends online with you, which is a great addition. How do you eliminate the competition? Force them off the map! Though less like Super Smash Brothers and more like a WWE Royal Rumble, players scramble to punch, kick, and throw the other fighters off blimps, elevators, roofs, billboards and much more. Though the gameplay is pretty straight forward, there is a lot of variety in your costumes and levels which keeps things even more interesting.
Fighting is a bit more complex than you might think initially, but it truly adds to the mostly unpredictable nature of the game. Bumpers are used to punch, the left working your left arm and the right using your right arm, respectively. The Y button raises your hands above your head, which is effective for both grappling as well as trolling. B gives a nice headbutt, X will see your stubby legs attempt to kick, and ol’ faithful A will let you jump and run. Using these in practice though, as suggested before, is a bit confusing initially. After a few hours of play, I am still a bit lost when it comes to executing these in a manner that would make sense. Instead, it usually boils down to who is better at catching and releasing another player, ideally over the edge of the map. Regardless, it is still rather fun. Those who know how to play, I mean really know how to play, have the upper hand, as you can also climb if you know how to function properly. For most, going over the edge is certain death. For others, who may or may not have a late uncle named Ben, climbing is second nature. If timed right, or if you are lucky enough, you can catch yourself, either on a wail, rail, or another player, and climb your way back up to safety. This can lead to some awesome scenes to watch, as even being eliminated is entertaining as you watch the remaining competitors duke it out. Unfortunately, both the climbing and the idle time can be just as boring as they are entertaining.
When playing online, we found that some players would just wait out the fight, instead of settling things man to man. They often would hang in a hard to reach place, or just out of sight, and drag things out. While waiting, things were almost always entertaining unless this was the case, which would really put a damper on the whole thing. Other players would effectively troll with grapples, and seemingly always be able to concuss my character while I was already in a helpless situation. I just did not understand how to get out of this when facing someone at a high playing level.
The only other situation in which grabbing was a nuisance was during the game’s other mode, football. In this soccer style match, you attempt to score goals as you would in the game of the same namesake. Here, I personally believe that the grapple mechanic should not be available, as it can be a distraction when one player gets held up by another for an almost endless amount of time. Outside of that hindrance, it was actually pretty fun to play soccer with some of the most uncoordinated, flailing, and colorful athletes you have ever seen. There is also a Gang mode, which is the same as your base mode but, well, with teams. Lastly, there is Waves, where you face off against waves of computers either solo or with a friend. This is the best mode to train your skills in and is about the only bit of offline, single player-esque content you will find. It is fun and intense if you are trying to survive as long as you can, much like other similar horde modes.
Outside of the gameplay, the variety of levels and costumes is a spectacle all its own. After a few long sessions for the review, I was surprised to play new levels each time that I had not come across in the last session. One of my favorites was Incinerator, which has a big center full of flames. Other close quarter ones like the lighthouse and the billboard offered quick and to the point fighting since there is limited square footage to explore. Maps like this get things going quick, while some others like the rooftop allow for a bit of breathing room. The costumes are great, from older ladies and cops, to Rick and Morty, and much more, it only adds to the quirkiness. You can even create and save your own to give your colorful, squishy Beef City citizen that personal touch. The music though, the music was the last thing I expected to stand out going into this review, but it is by far one of the best aspects. All the tracks are fun, engaging, and fitting to the levels. The soundtrack has that arcade feel, but on a much elevated level. It is awesome, and I definitely plan on adding the Vinyl OST to my collection one day.
While games like this usually have the advantage of shrugging some inconsistencies off, I think they are still worth noting. Online play is not always smooth. There was often some lag, as well as pretty regular screen tears where you would see maybe someone’s arm stretch across the screen. The controls are a growing pain, but I think there is some way to function more elegantly so to speak with more play, but initially they are a bit off putting. Really, it is the one-sided grappling that could leave you helpless. While I love the maps, some have really bad viewing angles when your character gets in the backfield, blocking your view almost entirely.
Other than a few minor complaints, the game can be a riot. One versus one may not be the way to go, so the more the merrier if no one hides, but when you have these awesome, full lobby brawl-fests, it is damn fun. There are hilarious moments, as well as tense ones too. Those last minute come backs are great, and watching a minute straight of two people trying to end each other is just as engaging. While there are a few adjustments the game can use in the menu set up and online reliability, at the end of the day it is a very solid party game. Who wouldn’t want to visit Beef City for its world renowned sights and sounds, and most importantly, its fights?
*Note: A copy of the title was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 7.5/10
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