When Gun Bros launched on the App Store in late 2010, there weren’t a lot of freemium action games to choose from. Free iOS games were generally farm or city-building sims like Farmville, or lite versions of paid games. But Gun Bros let you play the entire game for free– as long as you didn’t want to instantly buy some of the crazier guns and armor using in-app purchases. Gun Bros 2 is more of the same free action as before, but it seems like the rest of the App Store has moved past it.
Free-to-download games are hardly an anomaly in 2013. Auto-runners like Temple Run 2 and Jetpack Joyride, plus social strategy or board games like Scramble With Friends, have transformed mobile gaming. Gun Bros certainly had a hand in it, too. Glu Games now publishes only freemium games, and many of them, like Contract Killer, Frontline Commando, and Bombshells, push the boundaries of what we would consider freemium gameplay experiences.
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These games offer substantial, active gameplay and regular level progression– two features necessary for any quality game. It’s also where freemium games can sometimes skimp on the content. If you’re just performing mindless actions, or if you have to repeat those actions multiple times, you’re likely to give up and search for another game.
This is why Gun Bros 2 seems to be a step back from the promise of the first game. The twin-stick gameplay hasn’t evolved at all in the last two and a half years. You play as either of two hulking bros who have to wipe out lethal minions called T.O.O.L.S. You can aim and shoot at the same time using two virtual analog sticks. Meanwhile, your companion bro is controlled by the AI, and can use the same equipment as your Game Center friends.
However, the action in Gun Bros 2 is simple and repetitive. No matter which weapon you choose, you’ll spend each level unloading rounds of machine gun fire into waves of enemies. There’s little satisfaction in fighting against enemies so brainless, when you’ve obviously got them outgunned. Occasionally you’ll get to hop into a tank, or fight against a boss with a massive amount of hitpoints, but surviving each level quickly starts to feel like mopping the floors, or taking out the trash, not fighting for your life.
Someone’s been juicing with Xplodium.
A few new bonus features contribute slightly to the experience. You’ll find boxes containing gear, experience points, or in-app currency in each level, and opening them at the end of each level can feel a bit like Christmas. In an improvement over the first Gun Bros, you no longer have to wait to process the mineral Xplodium, and you’ll also be able to upgrade your favorite guns instead of just buying new ones.
The graphics have also been overhauled in Gun Bros 2. The action feels much closer, and the animation and character models are smoother and sharper. But despite these visual tweaks, we still feel that Gun Bros 2 is lacking some essential variety.
We think it’s great that Glu is committed to providing quality iOS entertainment for free. Sometimes they knock it out of the park, and sometimes they’re less successful. Gun Bros 2 is certainly worth a download if you’re a fan of the series or of blasting enemies in general, but it’s probably not a game you’ll spend hours playing when there are so many other great choices out there for free.