Online only titles are difficult things to get right. On first looks, it should be oh so simple; there’s no campaign to bother with and no story to write. All you need, at least for first person shooters, are a load of guns, a load of maps and a load of people playing.
And it’s the latter which nine times out of ten lets them down, especially on the Xbox Live Arcade.
Rekoil Liberator is one of these titles. Just released onto the arcade it comes as an online only multiplayer shooter, there’s no campaign for you to plod through but instead you get some hardcore online shooting action. But is it something that can go up against the big Call of Duty and Battlefield guns?
Um, no. Not a chance in hell, but that’s not necessarily the games fault.
We will however start with the good bits. Set in a world devastated by an unrelenting pandemic, Rekoil is a fast action, highly balanced arena shooter that allows players to frag each other to oblivion. Fast killing is the name of the game and it does that very well. Before getting hands on, I was fully expecting a big old lagfest, full of invisible walls and players getting stuck in maps. I was thankfully wrong as things have turned out to be pretty smooth with little lag and very few noticeable glitches. The graphics won’t be the greatest you’ve ever seen, and in a world now dominated by the next gen, the visuals are poor reminding me of titles first released on the original Xbox.
With 40 different weapons, four of which can be held at any one time (primary and secondary weapons, grenades and a melee attack), it most definitely has the right things going for it in terms of sheer arsenal. There is however nothing special in terms of what weaponry you have at your disposal (it’s just more of the usual assault rifles, shotguns and the such like) and if I’m being completely honest, to a novice shooter I don’t really notice the difference between the hardware types. The fact you have to cycle through you weapons with the d-pad also does it no favours. There are times when all you want to do is throw a quick grenade across town but having to select said nade first is a strange clunky way of doing things. A dedicated trigger or bumper button would have made things a whole lot more accessible. You’ve also got full at a touch access to the game leaderboard displaying your kills, deaths and that all important K/D ratio that everyone loves. Well, maybe not quite everyone.
Liberator prides itself on it’s 10 maps and whilst that doesn’t seem like an awful lot, it’s a very reasonable amount to see in an arcade game, especially as a bigger name game in Battlefield 1943 only managed to throw out 3 or 4 maps for its players. As a fast paced shooter, it’s probably for the best that the maps are small but all are perfectly formed with some nifty hiding spots if you feel that way inclined. For the most part though, you’ll just find yourself and others running and gunning like headless chickens, something the areas respond to very well.
Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Hold the Briefcase, Team Hold the Briefcase and others bring nothing new to the table in terms of gameplay modes, but all just about do the job to a decent level……Or they would do if you could find a game in which to play the seven types.
You see, this is where Rekoil: Liberator becomes a let down.
It’s well known that the online shooter brigade love a bit of deathmatch. You can give them numerous options and game types but on the whole, it’s the deathmatch which they keep coming back to and that is the case here…..bigtime! On day of release, I could quite easily manage to find a number of matches to play in, in fact the first one I did join was a ‘Team hold the briefcase’ (I’m sure I don’t need to explain the mechanics behind it), and jolly good fun it was too. I hung around with the same guys for a good old while with some dropping out and others joining like a good little gaming community should always see.
But then bang, a day or three later and everyone has seemingly got up and left, probably having gone back to other vastly superior shooters.
The games are near enough empty and I’m sitting here writing some of this after hanging around by myself waiting for others to join my match. I’ve tried and tried to join other games but in the last 30 minutes of looking, I’ve managed to get involved in one (Yep, it was a deathmatch), which involved 4 people for all of two minutes before losing connection. Whether this was because my opponents dropped out, or because the servers were dodgy, I don’t know but whatever it was there is hardly anyone around playing Rekoil. If the game is a ghost town just four days after it’s release, then I hate to think what it will be like in a week or two’s time.
A sale could obviously save it, as could a decent sized group of mates but if you don’t have the friends already on board, then I can’t see many throwing near enough £12 out for something that they can already get to a higher standard on the massive selling big hitters. If that sale doesn’t materialise pretty sharpish then I’m afraid you aren’t going to get much gameplay out of Rekoil.
One small saviour could be that we would be seeing a number of achievement hunters jumping on board to grind out some cheevos, but I really can’t see that happening either. Beware, it’s going to take you an absolute age to get the ‘1000 kills with X weapon’ or 1000 kills with Y weapon’, whilst the ‘Killing Machine’ award seems to be one of, if not THE, most difficult achievement I’ve seen in a game for a very long time. 10000 kills just isn’t going to happen any time this decade unless you find some cheevo buddy ready for a weekend of boredom.
Can I recommend you buying it? If you have friends who are also interested then yes, get on board. Otherwise, keep your cash in your pocket. It’s a shame really because Rekoil: Liberator is decent fun for a few hours, but if you can’t find a game – and if you’re reading this anytime after March 2014 I doubt you will be able to find one – then it’s no use to anyone. If this had dropped a year or two ago, I’d take a guess and say that it would have been rather successful; gamers were still massively wrapped up in the 360 and the big next generation was still just a pipedream and I’m sure there would have been more interested in the game.
Online only titles are difficult things to get right, especially if players have moved on to pastures new. Greener ones at that.