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It’s not always easy to sift through the vast sea of video game selections at your local retailer. With hundreds of titles to choose from and only one $60 gift card to spare, it’s safe to assume you might have a selective eye when it comes to buying on impulse.

If you meandered over to the 360 section, and took a gander at Brave: A Warrior’s Tale’s coverart, you’d see the phrase “Xbox 360 Family Game.” Is this clever choice of words Microsoft’s new secret code for “shovelware?” Read on, inquiring minds!

At its core, Brave is the latest attempt by developer Collision Studios to recreate the magic of Banjo Kazooie, Mario 64, and other golden age cartoon platformers. Much like those games, it offers a handful of collectibles, platforming, and action. I’ll get straight to the point: Brave fails in nearly every department.

Simply put, Brave looks like it was made for the PS2, or perhaps even an earlier console in some sections. Brave attempts to take the magic of Banjo Kazooie’s locales and put them in a Native American setting. The result is an empty shell of a cartoon platformer; most of the character models are forgettable, or so appalling that you’ll want to skip the game’s cutscenes. It also suffers from an astoundingly terrible, stuttering, frame rate, and frequently, my character’s hands would clip through various terrain, and my body would get stuck inside enemies.

All that is child’s play compared to the absolute worst aspect of Brave’s visuals: the complete lack of lighting. Be prepared to turn your TV’s brightness setting up in every cave and nearly every canopy forest stage. I was scrambling to escape multiple areas in the game that were actually outside in direct sunlight, which means a natural lighting system wasn’t even programmed into the game.

On the back of the box, various elemental abilities are advertised, but all of them fall short. Powers gained don’t work in a conventional action-RPG manner, and thus, come across as a very shallow addition. For instance, in Banjo Kazooie, you may use the running ability called the “talon trot” on every subsequent level in the game. In Brave, abilities are only used in immediate puzzles and almost never utilized again.

The powers themselves are also very boring. Fire and lightning abilities can actually only be used in certain parts of the game, for a mere minute total, and only if you charge up at select locations. When you actually get to use the power, a simple pulsing circle indicator pops up, and you can hit enemies inside it if you hit the X button; it’s hardly engaging or original.

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You can even see the lack of lighting in this screenshot

The lock on system, which is used for aiming arrows, is especially horrid; in fact, it doesn’t even work. During one section of the game, you’re required to hunt down fast moving wolves with your bow and arrow. Nevermind the fact that they can charge full speed and maul you for half life damage; you can’t actually lock onto them properly unless they’re a full screen length away from you, at which point, they start charging towards your character.

QTEs also seem like an afterthought. Brave actually has one segment that prompts you to “pick up a rock with one button, and throw it with another” (also note the ridiculous cheeks on the characters in the video). You can’t fail this segment, and it’s really a statement on how little game developers are willing to work the player into cutscenes, and how simple it is to add in a QTE to nearly everything as a substitute for real gameplay. The other absurd QTE that requires you to mash a button to light a fire, despite it’s ease, is also another pointless addition.

Gamers who get frustrated easily will be throwing their controller in no time. In fact, patient gamers will probably even feel the sting of the frequent hair ripping segments in Brave. Before you get your tomahawk, your character has to rip sticks out of the ground to fight enemies; if your character doesn’t have a stick, you can’t attack at all.

Not only do you have to constantly seek out a weapon, which grows tiring, but every single action you engage in drops the stick, which disappears into nothingness. That means if you press the wrong button, climb a tree, or jump in water, your stick automatically is removed, and you’re defenseless. Brave also hosts a great deal of very finicky (and glitchy) platform sections that I just don’t see younger gamers every completing.

If you’re looking for solace through Brave’s audio, don’t bother. I can’t remember any of the game’s music, and the voice acting is poor. In addition, due to rushed programming, the character says the exact same lines in sequential order when being attacked. On one occasion, I was stuck in a sea of enemies and had to listen to “OW!”, “go away!”, “OW!”, “go away!” for about thirty seconds.

At six hours maximum, you won’t be getting much bang for your buck. You can collect 47 secret totems, but odds are you won’t want to search high and low for them, because you only get some uninspiring concept art and finding them means fighting the game’s various glitches. There is still hope, however, for achievement junkies! You get 780 points for doing absolutely nothing other then beating the game.

Brave is another attempt to revitalize the cartoony action adventure genre, but it fails in just about every aspect of the game. My only real motivation to finish the game was the big fat 500 point paycheck at the end; there were numerous points where I stopped having fun and just wanted to pack up and leave.

Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review

Rating Category
5.0 Presentation
While the visuals do look last-gen and unoriginal, they aren't despicable.
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4.0 Gameplay
You'll glitch, clip, and akwardly jump your way to failure. Even the few flight sections feel uninspired.
3.0 Sound
Various parts of the game were silent, which makes for a very boring experience, and the areas that do have sound will have you turning the volume down.
4.0 Longevity
Brave retails at $29.99, is six hours long, and contains zero replay value. It's most likely destined for stardom for "easy achievement gainers", however.
4.5 Overall
It's a shame that this title is recommended for children who are just picking up gaming, because the frustrations involved will most likely turn them off.

  1. Although it sounds very tempting, I think I’m going to pass on this lackluster.

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