3..2..1..Grenades! is a local multiplayer first-person shooter in which players do battle by throwing explosives at each other.
Genre: Local Multiplayer First-Person Shooter
Release Date: June 21st, 2017
3..2..1..Grenades! is a local multiplayer first-person shooter in which players can only make use of various explosives. It boasts a large number of weapons, maps, and variants, offering a largely customizable experience. Up to four players can play through the Adventure mode, in which they must drive back aliens that Grenades Co. has accidentally brought to its factory, or Quick Play mode, which allows players to play matches using whichever rule sets they would like.
- Fast-paced four-player madness – up to four players can take part in frantic explosion-dodging fights to the death.
- A wide variety of maps – throw explosives at each other in sewers, on trains, in tunnels on freeways, or even on the moon.
- More than 30 insane variants – decrease gravity, increase the size of explosions, make players invisible, make it so that only direct hits count as kills, or even make all players’ heads massive.
By Matt Chelen
While there are a number of local multiplayer-focused games that have been released in recent times, it doesn’t seem like we get many that are particularly good. Many of them simply aren’t the instant classics of local multiplayer days gone by. That’s why, when I first discovered 3..2..1..Grenades!, a first-person shooter in which players can only throw various explosives at each other, through GIFs that had been shared on Twitter, I immediately made it a point to follow the game’s progress. Local multiplayer? Check. Unique idea that seems like something that should have been obvious and yet no one has done before? Check. Hectic, yet easy to follow, gameplay? Check. Charming art style? Check. Now that I’ve finally had a chance to play it, I can share my thoughts on whether I think that it is worth adding to your digital library of games to play during various gatherings.
As a local multiplayer game, 3..2..1..Grenades! is a game for one to four players that features both a campaign, which is loosely driven by a story in which a corporation has opened a portal to some alien homeworld that has brought the aliens to them and you have to drive them back through the portal, and a quick play mode that allows you to play custom games. If you don’t have four players, you can add Easy, Medium, or Hard bots that automatically fill any empty slots. While I played most of the game in two-player mode with my girlfriend, I made sure to get a group together to play four-player mode for this review.
3..2..1..Grenades!’s core gameplay is hectic and generally quite fun. Due to the fact that you can only throw grenades and other various explosives, or punch other players, albeit I rarely found myself doing so, maps will often be covered in smoke in areas that players are currently fighting in. In matches with bouncy grenades or mirvs, which are basically cluster grenades, you’re likely to see entire sections of the map that are being hit with explosion after explosion. Grenades and similar weapons also don’t behave anything like bullets, moving much more slowly and having a much more obvious firing arc, so you will often miss, leaving many moments feeling particularly tense as you lob grenades back and forth hoping to be the first one that hits their target. Fortunately, the game’s explosives largely go off the moment that they hit anything and, should you hit your target directly, they will be killed instantly and you will be awarded a “Bullseye!” rather than your explosive bouncing off of them if you didn’t time it right. Another unique nuance is that explosives can collide in midair, exploding on contact.
The fun core gameplay is complemented by a truly insane number of variants and rule changes that you can choose from. You can play matches in slow motion. You can play matches in low gravity. You can make each player one sixth of their normal size. You can make each player’s head big. You can make it so that only bullseyes count. You can make it so that only punches count. You can make it so that you can double jump or only barely hop off of the ground. You can set every item pickup to a specific weapon. You can make players invisible. You can choose whether basic grenades are infinite or not. You can play in deathmatch mode. You can play in a mode called “Capture the Pug,” which is a mix of capture the flag and basketball. You can play a mode where you have to destroy targets or steal them from other players. You can play a Splatoon-like mode where you use grenades to cover the map in paint. You can set it so that matches are based on kills or based on who wins a certain number of last man standing rounds. In addition to what I am going to call “normal” maps, there are specific maps that are made up almost entirely, if not entirely, of destructible blocks; on these maps, you can make it so that only falls kill. Each of these maps also has several different block layouts, each of which alters the way that you interact with each map’s small number of set pieces. There are so many different ways to play that you are almost guaranteed to find several rule sets that you enjoy playing.
The campaign is set up similarly to Super Mario 64. You have a small overworld that you can venture around with various doors scattered throughout it. Each door has a picture next to it representing the level that you are about to play on. Upon entering a door, you will be met with a selection of challenges that you can play on that level. At first, only the first two are available, but completing available challenges will unlock up to three more challenges per door. Each successfully completed challenge will award you a golden grenade, which is not unlike a star in Super Mario 64.
Despite the overarching story, the campaign plays a bit like a guided tour of the game’s many variants and modifiable rules. Instead of fighting aliens, each of these challenges throws you into a match with a specific set of rules on the level that is depicted in the picture that is next to the door. Interestingly, despite the fact that you can play through the campaign with upwards of four players, it seems that it is meant to be played either alone or with two players at most, as the only way to fail a challenge is to be beaten by a bot, which isn’t possible if you play with four players.
For the most part, the bots are surprisingly competent. They’re not a replacement for players by any means, but they do their job fairly well. They do, however, have a few quirks. If you are even halfway decent at the game, unless you set the bots to Hard difficulty, you will often find that they have a negative score. This is especially true if you have exactly two players. The reason for this is that bots have a tendency to both circle the opponent that they’re trying to kill at that exact moment and to gravitate towards a specific corner of the map and continue to dodge projectiles while they’re there. The combined result of these two quirks are that they will often spend inordinate amounts of time spinning around in a corner until one of them hits the other with an explosive. Once one does, in fact, hit the other with an explosive, it will often kill itself in the process, as it was simply standing too close to the other.
Other quirks include the fact that they simply cannot punch at all, meaning that they are not a threat in matches where only punches count, and that they will often get stuck on the edge of the destructible blocks mentioned above. When they do get stuck, they will continue to run endlessly, but won’t throw grenades. Should you free one from its predicament by blowing up the destructible block that it is on at the time, and only falls kill in the current match, it will throw a grenade directly at you as it falls.
The campaign also has some pacing issues. When the maps with destructible blocks are introduced, the game throws quite a few of these maps at you one right after the other, often using the same last man standing game mode, only changing between whether only falls kill or not and which additional weapons can be picked up on the map.
Once you do get through the abundance of maps with destructible blocks, you begin to encounter some far more interesting maps. Whereas many of the earlier maps have a lot of open space, most likely because of the nature of grenades and fact that they are difficult to dodge in confined spaces, there is a later map that does place players in confined spaces with various passageways that they can use to get around. Another map takes place inside a tunnel on a freeway, with platforms above the road; if they fall, players can be hit by cars. Yet another takes place on what appears to be the moon, featuring even lower gravity than the low gravity setting.
Given the nature of the campaign’s challenges, it also feels as if there are far too many golden grenades to be won. During my playthrough with my girlfriend, we completed all five challenges on all doors, mostly in order. Within the first two zones, we failed challenges a total of perhaps three times. Despite that, by the time that we reached the third zone, we were able to unlock every single door in that zone without completing a single one of its challenges.
For most of the campaign, you will be required to either get five kills or be the last man standing in three rounds. Later on in the game, win conditions will slowly be increased to ten or even fifteen kills. In my experience, five kills is the ideal win condition for matches. Ten-kill matches start to get a bit lengthy and fifteen-kill matches simply go on for way too long. The game is best played in quick, hectic matches that last around two to three minutes.
In addition to the challenges mentioned, the campaign also features two boss fights. These are entertaining enough, if a bit simple, and are fairly easy. During these fights, you are given a set number of lives. If you lose all of them, you will lose the fight, but it gives you enough that most people will likely make it through each fight on the first try.
Despite my few qualms with the game, 3..2..1..Grenades! has provided me with some of the most pure fun I’ve had in a game all year. It is fast-paced, hectic, and requires a different skill set than many other first-person shooters do. It also boasts somewhere around twenty levels, which is quite a lot more than many of its competitors, some of which have multiple layouts, and a large number of rules that can be modified. The only thing that is holding this game back from being an instant local multiplayer classic is that it is a first-person shooter with a dual-stick control scheme that may be difficult to play for those that aren’t particularly adept at moving with one joystick and aiming with the other. Other than that, the game is one of the best of its kind, which is perhaps largely due its uniquely limiting premise.