In the past few years, Glu Games has moved from making paid games like Super KO Boxing 2 and Cops & Robbers to freemium downloads like Contract Killer, Deer Hunter Reloaded, and Stardom: The A-List. But before freemium gaming was as common on the App Store as it is now, one series changed the way we looked at free-to-play games. Glu’s Gun Bros set the stage for action-focused free games, with optional payments for bigger weapons, which has divided opinions among players.
Gun Bros was designed to be endlessly replayable, even if you chose to never spend real-world money for in-game items. You could play through 50 waves of increasing difficulty, using twin-stick movement and shooting controls to fend off waves of evil robot enemies called T.O.O.L.S. You and your “bro” (an AI-controlled character, based on your friends’ customized stats) could then collect cash and Xplodium, a substance which had to be processed over several hours. The balance of free content, premium paid content, and clever character design made Gun Bros a Must Have download, and it put Glu on a trajectory towards all-freemium, all the time.
Key Quote: “If you avoid paying anything for the extra goodies, Gun Bros will stay free, but if you enjoy this game as much as we do, spending a buck for a virtual cowboy hat may not seem like a waste of money.”
Gun Bros 2
Two and a half years after the first Gun Bros, Glu released a sequel, which streamlined some of the first game’s features. You could collect boxes of gear after completing waves, harvesting Xplodium no longer required a countdown timer, and weapons could be upgraded instead of just discarded when they became too weak. The graphics also received an upgrade, to take advantage of newer mobile hardware. However, we felt that the rest of the App Store had moved on by 2013, and freemium action games weren’t the rarity they were in 2010. Gun Bros 2 still has the same twin-stick shooting as the first game, so we thought this sequel was merely good instead of great.
Key Quote: “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.”
Tomorrow, we’ll go into deep space with Galaxy on Fire, an epic, intergalactic sim.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.