Co-op in Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds lets you bring in three other players for a good old fashioned brawl fest. Each person chooses a character and joins in the fray to contribute their own punches, kicks, throws and combos that benefit the team by giving enemies one more target to lust after. Gems and coins fly all over the place, there are flashing lights and battle cries, it's epic.
True cooperation comes into play when you lure bosses away from buddies and revive fallen comrades by crouching over their lifeless corpses, putting yourself in harm's way. It's a simple setup that really isn't any different from other beat-em-ups out there, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The one drawback is that every player needs their own gamepad to participate. Keyboard controls don't seem to be supported, so break out the adapters and crowd around the laptop.
One co-op feature players have been moaning about is the lack of online play. The console versions had online capabilities, but it was buggy at best. The development team decided to emphasize local co-op for the PC release rather than push out another barrel of bugs. Plans for future online play haven't been set, but at this point, don't bet on it. Local cuts down the potential audience, but at least it's a smooth experience.
For some replay value, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds adds unlockable nightmare difficulty modes and an arcade mode that lets you jump in to beat your old scores. Characters level up individually and scores are only saved on a per-difficulty level, meaning if you want to show off your mastery, you'll have to do it several times.
Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds is ultimately a satisfying game that's going to scratch every beat-em-up itch you have. It's easy to pick up and play, offers respectable co-op action, looks and sounds great, and features long-term rewards in addition to the instant gratification of beating up people who look at you the wrong way.
The Co-Op Experience: Battle through the game in 4-player co-op.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.