PC, Xbox Live Arcade
Review based on Xbox Live Arcade version
|Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Plastic Piranha
Release Date: January 28th, 2014 (PC) / January 29th, 2014 (XBLA)
Rekoil is set in 2012, a poor choice considering we are now well past the point. Some kind of outbreak continues to spread, which crippled and destroyed governments and banks, only causing mayhem in the streets. Due to this, there has been a separation into the Minutemen Militia (with some characters looking like African stereotypes), as well as The Dark Water Corporation who exist for some reason or another that is never explained. Either way, they hate each other in this fallen society, or perhaps post-apocalyptic world? Again, it’s never really explained, but you get to pick sides and shoot at each other through a good number of contemporary levels and game modes.
Rekoil: Liberator doesn’t have much of a soundtrack. The title screen has a decent score, and there’s a bit of ambience in other screens, but as far as the gameplay goes, everything is silent for your benefit. The music would be distracting, hiding any footsteps or near by gunfire. There’s also the repetitive announcer in some modes such as “Capture the Briefcase,” which constantly tells you when it’s dropped every time, or announce someone is capturing a certain spot in the game’s Domination mode. This becomes inredibly repetitive to the point where you are going to want to mute the announcer.
Visually this title looks like an old re-skinned Counter Strike title. The characters you can play as have minimal customization, and all look rather choppy, as if an early PlayStation 2 title if you want to compare to anything. They also look like your stereotypical hired guns, except for some of the black skinned characters who have the tendency to look rather racist, though I doubt that was the actual intention. The stages look pretty thin as well, leaving very few spots to hide and wait in, and many poor spawning point choices that will get you killed by an enemy pretty much the moment you’re back in. But the mood is set appropriately given how the light of day or evening reflects on empty city streets or businesses.
The gameplay is pretty standard, but simple enough to be effective. Your standard triggers shoot, aim, throw grenades, and the analog sticks move and look around. You can duck, melee attack, and jump as well. Overall, the controls respond fairly well in the given situations. However, most of the maps are fairly small, so unless playing a specific mode, things like melee combat and ducking are essentially worthless unless you happen to find a good vantage point to camp out at.
Rekoil: Liberator has a couple different maps that are all fairly straight forward, and sometimes really affect the mode of gameplay. Some work better with Death Match modes, while others like the village map can be a real pain when playing modes like Capture the Briefcase. However, almost all are annoying when it comes to playing Rekondit mode, which makes one of the players an invisable Predator-like hunter that needs to be killed, and the killer becomes the Rekondit next. There’s very little information on the point of the mode, so the first time playing without knowing this you’ll spend ages trying to figure out how it works.
There are some issues to be had with this title that can be rather frustrating. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what mode or map you vote on, as the game has a tendency to just choose one randomly, or at least the one with the least votes. This can cause some confusion, especially when you wanted a regular Death Match mode, but instead get Team Death Match, leaving your team mates killing one another if they don’t notice everyone is paired up. Sometimes briefcase return points won’t spawn either. It also seems the microphone only works when it wants to. I haven’t played a single game where I could communicate with anyone, even in the lobby. Finally there’s the option to swap teams mid-game. This is done in the pause menu, so in the blink of an eye your team of five on five can become nine on one, leaving you completely screwed if your team isn’t out to hammer out achievements and just turn on you for kills.
But the biggest issue, especially at the time of writing this review, is that the community is basically dead, an issue those who got the game day one could easily pick up on happening a few days later. There’s also a divide in who plays: The people who are just in it for the kill achievements, making it a simple grind for four hundred achievement points, or players who miss the early days of first person shooters. Due to the first of those two, the latter group has basically stopped playing, and now that gamers are reaching full completion, there just aren’t many players around. Over the course of the last four days, I wasn’t even able to get a single person to join a room, nor were there any games going I could jump into.
In the end, there isn’t much to be said about Rekoil: Liberator. As stated earlier, this title seems like a Counter Strike clone, or at least a re-skinned version. If you miss the days of having or attending LAN parties, this will be a nice blast from the past. This is your basic late night pick-up-and-play game when you’re bored and don’t want to wrap your head around large amounts of story, complicated controls, or remember what weapon does what. Rekoil: Liberator wasn’t a bad game, but only after a week of being out the community started dying off to the point where now it’s just a ghost town. At fifteen dollars US for the Xbox Live Arcade version, it’s not quite worth the investment. From what I’ve seen the PC version seems to be a bit more active and look a little better visually, making it the edition you might want to seek out if your computer can run it.