Bombshell (PC Review)
“Babes, Bullets, Bombs” a famous quote by the titular Duke Nukem – an all round badass with a tang for witty one-liners – would be a fitting descriptor for Interceptor Entertainment’s and 3D Realms’ new video game love child Bombshell. Originally Bombshell started as a Duke Nukem revival project of sorts initially called “Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction” but the man himself had to be removed due to legal rights involving Gearbox Software. A court case later and we now have “Bombshell”, for all intents and purposes is the same exact game but now with a strong female lead instead of our typical macho male.
The newest member of the “badass women in video games” club is Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison an ex-soldier, discharged from the GDF (Global Defense Force) for failure to defuse a bomb which had catastrophic consequences, including the loss of Shelly’s arm. A short time later Shelly has been given a second opportunity to right her wrongs and given a mechanical arm – with its own sentient A.I. – to help her confront enemies. You take control of our heroine, Bombshell, as an impending alien attack takes place in the confines of the white house, blasting through waves and waves of enemies using Shelly’s mechanical arm the “Ion Maiden” and her trusty “Bowling Bombs” (custom grenades with nifty looking skulls on the side) in hopes of reaching the president in time. The president is unfortunately kidnapped, as expected, and taken through a portal to another dimension and Shelly is her only hope. As you may have guessed the story is still vaguely Duke-esque in the sense of an alien invasion, president getting kidnapped, and having Shelly as the role character spurting out one-liners every five seconds, all of which has a sense of nostalgia to it. Even Shelly’s arch nemesis “Jadus Heskel” a mad scientist and evil genius has a feeling of familiarity in comparison to Dr. Proton, Duke Nukem’s old nemesis from the original 2D side scrollers. Shelly’s mission to save the president takes her to Kyrron, the homeworld of the Kyrr that are invading earth. It’s no doubt Bombshell is the superficial successor to Duke Nukem possibly hoping to take his once prominent, and limited, position in the limelight.
Going the route of the top down shooter Bombshell incorporates an isometric field of view camera, giving the player a better all round and encompassing view of Bombshell’s surroundings. You’re able to take control of Shelly via the traditional mouse and keyboard, but if you’re more of a console enthusiast you can hook up a gamepad for greater personal enjoyment. The controls are responsive as you’d need them to be, allowing you to swing Shellys arm in any direction in an instant to fend of the fiends of Kyrr. Enemies will often rush you if you get too close so it’s always best to keep your distance and throw one of Shelly’s “Bowling Bombs” when time allows. Bombshell’s iconic Bowling Bombs and ideal for clearing groups of enemies but can unfortunately deal a fair bit of friendly damage if used in proximity to yourself. No action game would be complete without an assortment of weapons to choose from. However, Shelly’s arsenal has some rather distasteful names attached to them such as her fast firing “Maxigun” and the devastating “P.M.S” rocket Launcher, all of which I can assume was meant to be in harmless good humor.
Firearms aren’t Shelly’s only means of defending herself. Amiga (Shelly’s mechanical arm) can be upgraded to provide additional support by means of offering her a bubble shield to reduce incoming damage, a mega punch to give enemies a good wallop or even an evade skill that helps Shelly dodge incoming fire. Upgrades are only possible by collecting enough “Ky” dropped by the denisons of Kyrron or are found in vases that are littered around the environment like any good RPG. You’re often faced with a dilemma when upgrading equipment as the Ky you collect can also go towards purchasing health packs, speed boosts, and decoy items which could prove useful in more difficult encounters. So spend your points wisely.
Kyrron is only one of the places Shelly has the luxury of visiting, with its solar energy radiating from beneath the planet’s surface and its rocky and ruined exterior. Zeroth is the second location you set foot on in Bombshell and is a complete contrast to Kyrron and has a whole new set of undead enemies. There are other optional areas in which you can visit as well including caves, temples, and challenge rooms which present you with a, usually simple, goal to achieve. No matter which area you are in there is always a problem of orientation. Trying to find your way around these levels can be slightly confusing, mainly in instances where you’re wanting to follow specific objectives. Primary and secondary objectives aren’t explicitly shown on the in-game map by different logos or numbers and can be hard to tell if the objective you are heading to is a secondary one or primary one. If you accidentally go through to a new area following an objective marker, not realising that it is the correct way, the autosave will kick in and save your progress not allowing you to return and retry those secondary objectives you’ve missed.
Bombshell excels in several areas; the combat is fluent and gratuitously satisfying, the story is simple but action packed, and the worlds in which you explore are vividly stunning. On top of all this you have Shelly, another badass personality to add to the increasing roster of memorable video game characters. Bombshell is impressive, that’s for sure. The only downfall Bombshell has is that it is very safe. Keeping to familiar game mechanics means Bombshell really isn’t breaking any new ground, possibly resulting in the game feeling too generic for some individuals. Then again, when has blowing shit up not been fun?