Reviewed: September 27, 2009
Released: August 11, 2009
There comes a time in people’s life in which they take a moment to sit down with the young folks and tell their life’s lessons and experiences. So starts Brave: A Warrior’s Tale, in which a tribal elder calls together a group of Native American youngsters, and tells his tales of growth and learning through a series of platform-heavy flashbacks of battles endured in his youth...back in the days of the PS2.
This particular storyline is befitting of a game, which in and of itself is a flashback of an earlier form of platform title that many gamers enjoyed during the early days of console gaming. Basically, Brave looks and plays more like an early Nintendo 64 era 3D platformer than it does to any modern day fare despite the fact this is clearly a Wii-ported version of the PS2 original from a few years back.
That’s not necessarily always a bad thing, mind you – at least not when it is well executed. But in this case, well…Brave could use a little extra TLC during development. While the game would serve as a fitting example “how gaming was in the old days,” for any gaming elders trying to impress the youth of today – this is one gaming experience I am sure few old school gamers will feel compelled to revisit.
To be fair – it is quite evident that Brave was developed with the kinder folk in mind, because never during its relatively short playing time does the game ever ramp up to anything more than moderate difficulty. That’s not to say that completing the game is an easy task – oh no, the sketchy controls and unruly camera definitely make the platforming sections much more difficult than necessary – but overall, the core gameplay is rather elementary.
When I say that Brave plays like an old school platformer, I am not just sounding off – I actually experienced a number of déjà vu moments during the course of this review where I felt like I had played portions of this game before. It took me while to narrow it down, but I think I have settled on idea that Brave is strangely reminiscent of the original 3D classic Rayman 2. That is by no means a bad target to be striving after – but the gameplay is definitely dated and clunky compared to the current generation of platformers.
Brave’s presence on the Wii is merely for added exposure and some double-dipped revenue, as the game lacks any real implementation of motion control – which instantly emphasizes the weaknesses of the Wii’s clunky asymmetrical remote and nunchuk combo as a standard controller. The analog stick is far too fidgety for fluid character movement, which combined with a wonky camera makes for an overtly frustrating experience.
But that’s not to say that all of Brave: A Warrior’s Tale is bad news – there are definitely some shining moments that should not be overlooked. Not the least of all is the variety of gameplay, which is quite astonishing for this budget priced title. Throughout the course of the elder’s flashbacks, gamers have the opportunity to lead their little warrior in a surprising variety of side activities – between all of the mountain climbing, spear fishing, flying, and more, there is a good deal of extraneous enjoyment to be experienced.
Visually, the game is all about the old school – with the same blocky character designs and muted colors of the early 3D titles on the Nintendo 64 and original PlayStation consoles. To be frank, a great deal of the substandard visual quality is excusable given the target audience, but if I were the developer of Brave, I would be a tad embarrassed by what is being dished out in A Warrior’s Tale. It just looks too dated and depressing – even for a Wii title.
The audio has its share of highs and lows – but never really coming out with anything all that impressive. For instance, while the game does feature a full set of voiceovers for each of the cutscenes – the lack of vocal character authenticity is almost laughable. True it might be a bit insensitive to have the elder to speak in the stereotypical Tonto, but it would probably come across better than the aging Jewish man we find here. The sound effects definitely get the job done – but nothing about them really stands out as all that impressive.
Really, if the core gameplay were not so hackneyed and predictable, Brave might be worth a weekend rental, as the game does feature its share of enjoyable moments. But considering the relatively short gameplay length (the entire storyline can be completed in a single sitting), and the frustrating controls – there’s little reason any seasoned gamer would want to go through all of the trouble. I would recommend Brave only for the youngest of gamers – those who might benefit from some experiencing old school level design.