It's been over two years since Glu's Gun Bros [Free] landed on iOS with a bang. A dual-stick shooter infused with freemium elements, Gun Bros' gameplay style was somewhat novel at the time and would be a precursor to the way iOS games would monetize in the coming years. Fast forward to today, and Gun Bros 2 [Free] looks to update and improve upon its predecessor in an environment that is vastly different than before. Offering more guns, more bros, and a streamlined experience for earning experience and currency, Gun Bros 2 is an enjoyable shooter, if you can get past the inevitable paywall.
From a gameplay standpoint, Gun Bros 2 continues the standard arena-based dual-stick shooter style that genre fans should be familiar with. The game features two primary modes: Campaign and Arcade. Campaign challenges players with completing missions across a variety of locales, taking out pre-set enemy waves as fast as you can. Faster times net more valuable medals, which in turn reward more currency and experience. Crates will also randomly fall during campaign missions, which can reward armor, added experience, and added currency. Each set of missions culminates with a boss battle, and taking down that boss unlocks the next tier.
Arcade mode, meanwhile, is classic Gun Bros gameplay and challenges you to survive as long as you can against a neverending horde of enemies. Players earn experience and currency during this mode and a score mechanic allows players to challenge friends on a higher. While the goal is to eventually conquer all the missions in Campaign mode, players will spend most of their time in Unlimited, as the experience and currency flow more freely.
Speaking of currency, the dual currency system from the original Gun Bros returns in this sequel, with 'Xplodium' acting as the standard currency and 'Bucks' acting as the premium currency. Xplodium is freely earned in every mission and arcade run, although it's important to note that players will be replaying missions and arcade mode many times in order to earn enough Xplodium to purchase new weapons. Still, with enough grinding, it's entirely possible to earn enough Xplodium to get through most missions.
As the premium currency, Bucks are rarely earned during normal play and are primarily used to buy the more extravagant (read: overpowered) weapons of the game, and as a last resort to continue on a run if you die. However, Gun Bros 2 also uses bucks in its enemy shield system. Later missions feature shielded enemies that require weapons that have been attuned to that shield's color in order to effectively dispatch them.
While this is an interesting twist to the strategy, attuning a weapon requires a small amount of bucks. This converts the premium currency from simply being for extravagances to being an currency of some necessity, which I think is a problem. If you don't manage your bucks, you'll eventually find yourself needing to excessively grind or shell out real money just to move forward and take on more complicated enemies.
While the freemium elements mostly remain unchanged, Gun Bros 2 does streamline other aspects of the game. For example, armor can no longer be directly bought; you'll find most pieces in crates during mission mode. In addition, every time you find a new piece of armor, its power gets 'absorbed' and your bro earns gains more HP or speed. Finding collections of armor add even more bonuses. This means that equipping armor is exclusively an appearance issue, which works well if you find a cool-looking piece and want to keep it for awhile.
Otherwise, Gun Bros 2 is the same enjoyable gameplay that made the original popular. The ability to hire and use your friends' bros during missions makes a return and is a feature I always liked. While I'm not the biggest fan of the shield color implementation, I still think it adds some strategy to a game that is relatively mindless for a dual stick shooter. The game also enjoys a modern facelift, although the visuals don't particularly standout. In addition, the inclusion of vehicles and weapon mods add some much needed variety, especially since fans of arena shooters know that grinding is a natural part of the game.
Gun Bros 2 is one of those sequels that isn't going to convert gamers that weren't fans of the original. However, if you were a fan of the original and its brand of grind-heavy arena dual-stick shooter gameplay, this sequel simply offers more of the same (for better or worse). Assuming you're in the mood for some grinding and you're willing to accept the fact that a lot of content is effectively locked behind freemium elements, I'd say Gun Bros 2 is worth checking out.
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