This one caught our eye. Broforce is a gleefully bombastic 2D side-scrolling shooter in the Contra tradition - and available this month for free to PlayStation Plus members. However, it hasn't launched in the best of states, and its variable performance is a stumbling block to enjoying the experience we'd like. We're talking about a game that's designed to run at 60fps, but as shown in our video below, can (and very much will) drop all the way down to the teens. So what exactly is going on, and why might PS4 performance be struggling as it is?
Of course, Broforce is a two-dimensional game built on pixel art visuals - a game you wouldn't suspect would test any modern gaming hardware as it apparently does. It's also one that absolutely revels in destruction physics, and particularly with four players, everything on-screen is apt to explode, showering the screen in particles. Indeed, entire levels are blown apart as players tear through each new stage, and it's this dynamic that ultimately brings the frame-rate to a crawl. At peak action, Broforce's main selling point sadly ends up reducing the game to a nearly unplayable state.
Given the mania of its run-and-gun premise, it's a bit of a shame. Broforce on PC shows the game running as it should at a full 60fps, but on PS4 it suffers one of the lowest frame-rates we've seen on Sony's machine - down to 15fps at its nadir. The only runner-up in this category is The Last Tinker, another notably weak performer on console, and it's perhaps no coincidence to find that both of these games run on the Unity engine. A recent look at Firewatch (another game based on this tech) shows this is now something of a running theme, and though that game's performance was bolstered by a later patch, it's clear that certain Unity titles aren't translating as smoothly to console hardware as you'd hope.
PlayStation Plus' Instant Game Collection - i.e. free bonus games for subscribers - will include Galak-Z and Broforce for PS4 come 1st March.
UPDATE 22/02/2016 6.12pm: Broforce has won the Vote to Play poll and will thus become part of the PS Plus Instant Game Collection starting 1st March.
Broforce should be unbearable. It has all the worst features of indie hipster PC gaming in 2015. Cute pixel art winkingly combined with lashings of extravagant gore. Retro-styled side-scrolling gameplay and stiff difficulty. Most of all, an obsession with tongue-in-cheek 1980s B-movie culture.
It should be unbearable, and the fact that it's actually enormously likeable and loads of fun speaks volumes about developer Free Lives Games and the way it has carefully evolved its giddy template from lo-fi game jam entry through Steam Early Access to full release.
Bombastic 16-bit platforming shooter Broforce will finally emerge out of Early Access for an official launch on 15th October for PC, Mac and Linux.
A PS4 version is due next early next year, developer Free Lives confirmed.
Broforce is a send-up of the finest action films of the 80s with Die Hard, Predator, Commando, Lethal Weapon and more adapted into a a cartoonish 16-bit platformer with comically destructible environments. It's even had a free Aliens-based update and an official The Expendables spin-off game.
I hadn't checked in with Broforce for quite some time, despite the steady flow of new playable characters and the daft 'Expendabros' crossover of last year. I thought this was going to end up being yet another Early Access game that I'd stop playing prior to the full release.
I was happy to be proven wrong. It's now got aliens in it.
Join Christian Donlan and myself as we introduce them to a little thing called freedom:
What's the point of a ripped bod, rogueish bandana and an arsenal of automatic weapons without an extra terrestrial threat to annihilate with them?
Well now Free Lives' has updated its testosterone-flowing 2D run-'n-gun platformer with the aliens from Aliens. Bless 'em.
That's right, these xenomorphs will climb walls, bleed acid, feast on unsuspecting terrorists and all the things one expects an alien to do.
This is how you do a film tie-in. To celebrate the release of The Expendables 3, prior to its inevitable Oscar landslide next year, the Broforce team are offering 10 levels of standalone action with all the deformable terrain, pixelated splatter and death-defying mayhem you could ask for. And it's free. Ian's streaming it from 4.30 pm BST today.
The first time we covered Broforce I noted that it's "what The Expendables game should have been." Well, someone at Lionsgate had a similar idea and decided to collaborate with Broforce developer Free Lives to create a free promotional spin-off of the testosterone-mad shooter that's a crossover with the upcoming The Expendables 3.
Entitled The Expendabros, this standalone PC crossover sees players assume the role of The Expendables 3's various action stars as they fight through 10 stages of destructive mayhem in an effort to take down Mel Gibson's improbably named villain, Conrad Stonebanks.
Like Broforce proper, The Expendabros will feature local co-op for up to four players.
If you've been paying attention, you'll know that Broforce is potentially something quite special. Actually, scrap the potentially part - it already is something quite special. A prototype's been knocking around for a short while, and a beta's been available to those who pre-order and the whole thing's just hit Steam Early Access. I'd tell you more, but I wouldn't be able to do it half as eloquently as Mr. Donlan, who did a beta review for us late last year.
Broforce, the side-scrolling all-action splatterfest from Free Lives Games launches on Steam Early Access next Monday, 7th April.
Hotline Miami, Shadow Warrior and Luftrausers publisher Devolver has now picked up the brilliant Broforce, made by developer Free Lives.