Reviewd on WINDOWS (Steam)
“All outa bubble gum.”
Bombshell is an action-RPG developed by Interceptor Entertainment and published by 3D Realms. You play as Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison as you invade an alien world to stop a mad scientist who’s kidnapped the President. While playing I was reminded of cheesy sci-fi action movies from the 80’s and 90’s. The story is campy and the dialogue even more so. The gameplay is sufficient, but nothing to write home about. In short, Bombshell is much like the sci-fi mvies it takes inspiration from, entertaining while it lasts, but largely forgettable.
To give a little back story, Shelly was once a member of an elite team of soldiers. During an ill-fated mission, she lost her team, and her arm, at the hands of Dr. Jadus Heskel. The game opens with Shelly being called back into service to get revenge on Dr. Haskel who, with an army of aliens called the Kyrr, has attacked the White House in an attempt to kidnap the President, Aurora Skye.
The story seems to be purposefully cheesy and is delivered through mostly competent voice acting. The main characters are voiced well, but the random NPCs that give you side quests deliver their lines poorly and Shelly’s one-liners during combat are woefully overused. For a game that seems to be going for a particular style and attitude, I would have liked to see a little more exposition and character development to sell the world it takes place in. Shelly could have been a great new character had she been more developed, and the futuristic world on display is compelling, but it feels like it only exists to give you enemies to kill.
Speaking of killing enemies, you do that a lot here. In fact, unless you are talking to an NPC or being forced to walk painfully slow during a radio conversation, you are shooting enemies. You fight pretty standard enemies with a variety of different weapons that you collect along the way. None of the enemies I encountered, even the bosses, required much strategy to dispatch; as long as I was shooting them I was doing it right
The weapons you have access to include basic machine guns, shotguns, and even a flamethrower and rocket launcher. You pick up money as you defeat enemies and explore the world, and use it to upgrade your weapons. You can increase the damage they deal and access alternate fire modes, so each weapon is essentially two archetypes. All-in-all the weapons are fairly generic and nothing really stood out to me as being unique. Ammo for everything but your starting weapon is scarce, so I found myself shying away from the other weapons and reserving their ammo for major fights. This meant that I played most of the game with the starting weapon and grew bored dispatching enemies the same way over and over again.
I also felt like game’s controls weren’t as responsive as they should have been. I often resorted to the “spray and pray” approach when enemies were attacking me from off screen or my bullets weren’t going where I wanted them to, which stinks when alternate weapon ammo is limited. I also dreaded anytime I had to jump from one platform to another because the orientation of the camera sometimes made it difficult to judge how far apart ledges were from each other. Most of my deaths were from falling. I tired the game with both a mouse and keyboard and an Xbox One gamepad. Both were adequate ways to play the game, but there were some gamepad quirks like an inability to scroll the fullscreen map which I found odd.*
The RPG elements aren’t limited to your just weapons, you can also upgrade Shelly herself by spending experience points you earn from killing enemies and completing objectives. It’s pretty standard stuff like increasing your maximum health, armor, or energy to perform her special abilities. When you access the menu it has a cool animation that looks like Shelly is glancing down at her wrist which contains a computer. However, I found navigating the upgrade trees and abilities menu to be cumbersome. I think they were trying to mimic an old computer when they designed the menu, but instead just made it difficult for you to be sure you are choosing the right upgrade.
The audio visual presentation is on point. Bombshell isn’t going to win any awards for best looking game, but the action stays fluid even when there are a dozen or more enemies on screen. I wish there was more variety in the levels though. The weapon sounds are also great and change in pitch as you near the bottom of your ammo reserve, giving you an important audio cue that warns you when your magazine is about to run dry. The soundtrack is filled with appropriate rock and metal tunes that I actually didn’t notice as much as I thought I would because the sound effects tend to overpower the music most of the time. Dr. Heskel’s voice acting stands out to me as the best in the game. He is appropriately menacing and taunts you along the way. As I mentioned before, Shelly’s one-liners are overused and by the end I was sick of her quips about her beloved car that we see for a total of three minutes at the beginning of the game. We get it, you liked your car and are upset the aliens blew it up!
In all honesty it’s hard for me to whole-heatedly recommend Bombshell. The $30 price tag may help you overlook some of the game’s flaws, but those flaws are still there. The game suffers from a lack of polish that would have made the game more enjoyable, memorable, and less frustrating. If you’re looking for a somewhat competent action-RPG and can appreciate the campy story, then perhaps Bombshell is worth a look, otherwise you may be better off playing Diablo III and watching a Dolph Lundgren joint.
- Good sound effects
- Campy dialogue and cheesy story…[/double_paragraph]
- … Campy dialogue and cheesy story
- Weak enemy design
- Levels are boring
- Menu system can be confusing
- Controls can be imprecise[/double_paragraph] [/row]
A code was provided for the purposes of this review.
*This review was conducted using a pre-release version of the game. The game received several updates during the review period and it is possible any glitches or errors may be correceted in the final version of the game.