There are two kinds of robots in the world. There are the ones who serve us, make our cars, give us badly made coffee from vending machines in bus stations, and power our working lives. Then there are the other ones, who want to murder you, destroy all of mankind and turn us into batteries to serve their dystopian dream.
Livelock has good and bad robots, but who will win? There’s only one way to find out. FIGHT!
Livelock is a co-operative top-down shooter in which you play solo or with up to two allies, breaking the cycle of infinite war between machines. It’s very much like Baldur’s Gate or the Diablo franchise in its style and feel, but at the same time there are a lot of new things here that make it stand up proudly on its own. Made by the people who created Neverwinter, the free to play MMO on Xbox One, they have now created a very interesting world indeed.
The story goes that the world was warned of a life ending catalytic event and had ten years to prepare. A robot satellite decided to download the minds of three human beings into three super robots to save mankind. When the disaster struck and life was wiped out, these super robots end up going down to earth to battle the evil machines, corrupted by the cataclysm, and prepare for the beginning of new life on Earth again. Pretty clear isn’t it? You can now choose one of these three super humans, which basically come down to a marksman, a tank brawler type and one who uses drones. Each has different skills and tricks up their sleeves to use in the upcoming battle down on Earth.
The story and theme of Livelock was something that I thought I would hate at first. I’ve never really enjoyed the Transformers universe or anything futuristic involving fighting trashcans. However I found myself really engrossed while playing through the campaign that Livelock brings. There is an dynamic story underneath all the fighting and future chat, with some considered and fine writing to back this up. But how does it play?
Gameplay wise it’s pretty simple, but complicated at the same time. Going through the campaign you can go into a lobby before the game begins, choosing to go solo, or teaming up with a friend locally or online to play. Or as I did, play with randoms. Up to three of you can play at the same time and I must say the ease of connectivity was seamless. You choose your load-outs – weapons, cosmetics and power ups – and then a difficulty level.
In-game it feels very familiar to many games that you would have played before. You move across the screen and attack your enemies with your main attack, be it via guns or gauntlets smashing into the robots. Then you have a number of special attacks, depending on your choices, which have a cool down timer before you can go again. These range from firing an explosion barrage around you, to ripping the earth underneath the enemies feet. The enemies you encounter range from the little robot grunt, who even through they can be countless numbers of them, are easy to finish off, or the upgraded enemies who have shields and can be quite tricky to take down. Finally you will finish each level with a boss battle which is…well, boss like. Even though there is some quite formulaic structures to the game, with Livelock sending you through wave attacks or area defending, there is enough game variety and fun to be had throughout. I did sometimes feel like I was just bashing buttons and hoping for the best, but when you have a few co-op partners and the screen is on fire with destruction, there is nothing better then mashing a few buttons as fast as you can.
Looks wise, it has the feel and design of a top down shooter without it being remarkable. But in saying that, the design is really crisp and the robot enemies are creative, detailed and well drawn. I very much enjoyed the comic book design of the cut scenes, reminding me of 1980’s after school cartoons. The backdrops to the level designs have some very nice touches, displaying a broken world controlled by mad machines. The sound is very good, all moody and electronic. There are some highs and lows with the voice work, but in essence they tell the story well enough to keep you interested.
There is enough in Livelock’s entirety to keep you going for a while with a campaign that is four or five hours long, but if that’s not enough, then you can run though it all again with the three different characters. It is also a completely different experience playing it alone, as opposed to with friends and both are well worth sampling. The levels are short enough for you tackle a few times without getting bored, and allow you to discover all the secrets the game holds. There is also a survival mode which pits you against waves of enemies and whilst these always leave me a bit cold, others seem to love it. Each to their own.
To conclude, I really enjoyed my time with Livelock, and that is something which honestly surprised me a lot as I thought I would hate it. The game is fun, easy to play and the multiplayer co-op is a great experience. You might get bored quite quickly if you are after a more varied gaming experience as it is quite linear and repetitive, but fans of top down shooters could not do any worse then pick this up.
I’ve learnt to love the robots once more. Before they kill us all.