Bomberman wasn't the first competitive multiplayer video game, but for a generation of gamers it was the only one that mattered. These days we see ultraviolent first-person shooters with dozens of players, racing games with packed lobbies and MMOs with millions of monthly subscribers. Even with all the noise from today's competitive online games, Bomberman still remains king. And if you think his shtick has gotten stale, it's only because you haven't played through the bevy of exciting new modes found in Bomberman Live: Battlefest.
Fans of Hudson's long running franchise will no doubt point out that this is not Bomberman's first appearance on the Xbox 360. Thankfully this is not a sequel to 2006's Act Zero, but rather the four year old Bomberman Live that everybody knows and loves. In essence, this is nothing more than a level and mode booster pack for Bomberman Live. Not that there's anything wrong with that, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX did the exact same thing to exquisite results last year.
Bomberman has always been a simple game. The idea is to set down bombs to blow up the walls hindering your path. At first it's simple; you drop a bomb and hide. Whatever you do, you want to avoid getting hit with the fire and shrapnel coming from your bomb. Before long you'll start picking up power-ups, which allow multiple bombs, increased splash damage and other powerful assets. Your goal is to be the last man standing. If that means taking out a few of your friends along the way, then that's what you'll have to do. It's better them than you.
All of the intense action of the standard Bomberman game is accounted for in Battlefest. The game supports eight players over Live (four locally) and fifteen different maps to blow up. The game also allows you to customize your own bomber person, or simply use your Xbox Live avatar. I expected the worst when I selected my avatar, my character fit right in amongst all of the other psychopathic explosives experts.
The standard battle mode is fun and all, but the real excitement comes from the six brand new multiplayer modes. Outside of battle, we're treated to Zombie, Paint Bomb, Capture the Crown, Bankroll, Capture the Flag and VIP. Most of these modes offer both free-for-all and team variations, finally offering some much-needed variety to this twenty year old franchise.
Even if you don't recognize the names, fans of online games will feel right at home with most of these modes. Capture the Flag is exactly what it sounds like, a mode where teams have to race through a maze capturing and returning the enemy's flag. It's exactly how you remember it in Halo and every other first-person shooter released in the last ten years. Capture the Crown offers a similar goal, only this time you battle to hold on to a crown the longest.
Fans of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series will immediately know what to do in Zombie and Paint Bomb, modes where each Bomberman tries to paint as much of the level in his color. VIP requires players to protect an important character from being blown up. And then there's Bankroll, which sees players earning money which can be exchanged for powerful items. Think Bomberman meets Counter-Strike.
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