A Nose At: Foreign Legion: Buckets Of Blood

With my desktop PC out of action over Christmas – it contracted a nasty case of conjunctivitis of the front-side bus – my options for gaming with my weedy laptop were limited. One thing I did managed to spend a few hours with without the poor thing fainting was indie devs Sakari’s third-person shooter Foreign Legion. It’s cheap, it’s cartoony, it’s about killing lots of wee small men for points. It was pretty much ideal for a 3 hour train journey to the Lake District, in other words.

It’s essentially a series of Alamo moments – you as one heroic soldier against waves of invading Gentlemen Of Terrorist Persuasion. You’ve got to kill ’em all until the timer runs out and rescue arrives, but also protect a) yourself and b) some manner of objective. In the first level, that’s an oil pipeline that springs apocalyptic leaks of black gold as it takes damage, in the next it’s a town hall that gradually grumbles, and in a later one it’s a bus full of civilians that flees across the uncaring desert at agonisingly slow speeds.

So it’s a matter not simply of killing, but of prioritising who you’re killing. Is it the guys trying to paint your face an attractive lead’n’gore colour, or is the suicide bombers running at the thinger you need to defend? Or is the rocket launcher guys who are an explosive menace to all concerned? It’s essentially an old-fashioned farce movie: you peg it to one end of the map, shoot everyone as quickly as possible, then realise you’ve got to peg it back to where you just where before the building comes down. Somewhere in the middle of all this, you’re also summoning and collecting ammo drops, and grabbing repair kits to try and keep the wolves from the door of your damaged objective. And back, and forth, and again, wave after wave. It’s an inherently repetitive affair – as anything that’s ultimately about highscores is – but it’s so absolutely manic that it can mask this for a time, and keep itself compulsive.

There are unlocks. Of course there are unlocks. They’re a big part of what kept me playing, which can be a difficult thing to rationalise. Am I playing because I’m enjoying the experience of playing, or am I playing because some cold, weird part of my brain needsneedsneeds a better gun and a blue hat? Alas, I’m leaning more towards the latter in Foreign Legion’s case. It isn’t quite as charming as I suspect it wants to be, so I’m not invested in anything other than earning in-game bucks. After a couple of hours of pleasant headshotting of silent Legolike soldiers and the occasional unafraid chicken, it all starts tp ring a little hollow.

That said, the free update Sakari chucked out soon after release is hugely impressive for a game with this kind of pricetag – up from one map to six, plus a bunch of extra weapons and outfits. If that’s a sign of future intent, there’s a good chance this will blossom from the promising but disposable arcadey thing it is now into something genuinely meaty. It’s certainly crying out for either co-op or multiplayer – especially in the bus defense level. Having your objective roam rather than be fixed gives it a totally different feel to the rest of the game, and means the ammo and repair drops end up being a country mile away. Having one guy defending the bus while the other legs it back across the desert would be a top time, and a hint of real tactics admist all the panicked bullet-spray. But expecting a cheap indie game to suddenly throw in networking is a tall, unreasonable order.

So, despite the right attitude, Buckets of Blood doesn’t really live up to the comic excess the name suggests, but Sakari are definitely onto something with it. A little bit Battlefield Heroes, a little bit Shadowground, and some canny approach to map design – I’d definitely like to see where they go with this. First things first, though, they should get a ruddy demo out. £6 ain’t much, but it’s not quite impulse-buy cheap. I suspect getting the insta-joy of the first half-hour with the first level into a horde of eager hands would shift quite a lot of copies. Until then, here’s what it looks like:

Foreign Legion: Buckets of Blood is available now, currently only via Steam.

From this site

23 Comments

  1. SirKicksalot says:

    FFS, I was considering buying this during the holiday sale… Why the hell didn’t I do it?!

    • Pod says:

      Becasue at the time it only had 1 map?

      At least that’s why _I_ didn’t buy it ;(

    • Centy says:

      The big update came out before the sale or well it must have unless my time travelling sneezes are back :S

    • Blather Bob says:

      @Centy: You can’t blame people for not knowing about the content upgrade when it only came out Decemeber 21st, and their PR campaign for it appears to have consisted leaving comments on half-year old RPS posts.

      I mean, they didn’t even get Steam to post a “patch released” note when it came out, aside from mentioning that they’d added 18 achievements (actually this was from a patch a month before). I figured the achievements patch, plus memories of blog posts from the developers talking about what they wanted to add post-release, were enough indication of planned upgrades to risk $1.40 but I certainly didn’t expect those upgrades to already exist when I bought it. (not that I’m complaining! it was a very nice surprise!)

      Steam have stuck up a new set of patch notes now, but have messed it up by making it appear that the tiny bug fix released two days ago adds 5 levels referring to the new levels added back in December. Considering it’s a game that probably gained a majority of users during the last two weeks, I imagine most people are going to assume that means it should now have 11 levels and will be disappointed to find it has no new content at all from their perspective.

  2. Blather Blob says:

    I was shocked reading early reviews and comments when this first came out. One level and no unlockable weapons, and everyone complaining about 20 minutes of playtime and no reason to replay it, seemed incredibly lean not just for a $7 game but even the $2.50 they were charging the first week. I don’t know that I’d call the expansion hugely impressive, more just fair for what they charge, but I certainly agree that any future content that comes out now that it’s better fitting into its price point would be very generous on the dev’s part.

    I picked it up when it was $1.40 during the sale, and was very pleased to find the (unannounced) expansion of content made it quite the bargain. And their blog does mention a multiplayer update, so who knows what’s still to come…

    Another game I picked up during the sale with huge content-filled patches and an upcoming multiplayer update is Nation Red, especially since the devs said it was going to be the best sale price for a while to come. They’ve done a much better job of publicizing their updates though.

  3. Will Tomas says:

    Bugger. Mr Meer. why didn’t you let us know about this before the sale? I got a netbook over Christmas and this looks the ideal thing to play on it – but I’m not willing to pay full price for it as I am sadly nearly broke. :( I’ll have to see if it’s on sale later…

  4. arrr_matey says:

    Lake District, eh? Isn’t there a Beatrix Potter game you could have played…

  5. Web Cole says:

    “it’s a town hall that gradually grumbles”

    Teehee, I do love the English language :P

  6. invisiblejesus says:

    Multiplayer coop is in the works, according to their devs posting over on the Steam forums. Last I read it was going to be 4-player, and use Steamworks to connect. I picked it up during the holiday sale mostly on the strength of the Lego-esque graphics, and have only noodled around with it for a couple minutes since, but it seems like nifty stuff. I’m not sure it’s worth full price now, but I think it will be when the multiplayer patch drops.

  7. malkav11 says:

    It may not be worth an impulse purchase at six pounds, but it was definitely worth an impulse purchase at $1.40, as it was during Steam’s holiday sale. It took me a little bit to figure out what exactly was going on (and that although the displayed controls are entirely mental, with mouse controls and arrow key movement and oh yeah some keys over on the left side of the keyboard too, the more usual WASD stuff is also mapped by default.), but once I did figure that out I had a decent enough time. With coop, I think it’ll be more than just a quick time waster (not -much- more, but still).

  8. Miles of the Machination says:

    I love it when cute looking games are ludicrously gory. The game looks like it would be a nice bit of fun, but the concept seems a bit flawed when you’re essentially performing the same actions over and over again, just under different scenarios. What would be nice is a game mode where you could stretch the limits of the game’s capabilities with all sorts of different crazy scenarios ala Spec Ops with Modern Warfare 2.

    Also, it’s cool to see the unity engine becoming more prevalent in game development.

  9. clippa says:

    Why is it third person? It makes no sense. Why have yourself blocking a good portion of your own view?
    I played one game at a friends house, took me until near the end before I realised you had more than one weapon :D I was trying to change with 1,2,3,4, you have to use the mouse wheel.
    It’s a demo, they need to flesh it out a lot before I’d even consider buying it. Give us online multiplayer and change it to first person and I’d definitely shell out a fiver for it.
    Speaking of the steam sale, did anyone else pick up mr robot for 1.20? It’s a delightful little indie game, like a cross between quazatron and knightlore with a dash of rpg lite. Really enjoyed it. 12 hours of game for 1.20, can’t say fairer than that.

    • malkav11 says:

      If it weren’t third person they couldn’t have all sorts of unlockable costume gimmickry. At least, not until they add in multiplayer.

  10. bill says:

    Sounds like Tie Fighter

  11. Snarboo says:

    The recent update looks to be a vast improvement over the initial release. The game only had one map originally, the embassy mission, and no unlockables or custom outfits. I bought the game based purely on the title and was well aware of what I was getting, but I was still disappointed. However, I’m glad to see the developers supporting their game, and for free too! :D

  12. qrter says:

    Foreign Legion: Buckets of Blood is available now, currently only via Steam.

    GamersGate has a Mac version (although not the PC version, probably they’re using Steam achievements etc. and GG is quite paranoid about Steam having better versions).

  13. MadMatty says:

    Picked up Killing Floor for 4-5 quid at the steam Jan sale and that kindof filled the hole: of mentally spraying things with automatic rifles, and then laughing out loud at the meatlumps flying around like new years eve.
    Great game.

  14. Jim Rossignol says:

    This was made in Unity, which is the same kit we’re using for the RPS game.

  15. mario free online games says:

    damn i missed it in the sale! i really wanted to buy this too!

  16. Hrmmmm says:

    I was really on the fence about this one. On the one hand it was only $2.00 during the holiday sale. On the other, lackluster reviews and the other $2 – $5 priced games steered me away.

    Ended up not buying because of lack of demo and my dislike for that over the shoulder perspective (wot’s wrong with the neatly centered, bird-eye view of the Max Payne’s of yore? If you want to make it close to the action, then just make it an FPS FFS)

    Anyways, yeah. Guess I wished I bought it now?

  17. Anon says:

    Looks to be just the same as all those free “defence” or “tower” flash games you can play for free. Knee deep in the buggers. Wish there were less being made, to be honest.

  18. SodovTheSorceror says:

    Hm. From the video this looks like Lego Cannon Fodder (I miss you Sensible Software) with none of the charm that description would suggest. Oh yes, and ‘horrible generic rock’ = ‘marketed at adolescents’