Xbox Game Pass really is a brilliant innovation for games and gamers alike. Certain releases come along which may potentially get missed, however the on-demand service from Microsoft gives them every chance to fulfil their potential. Research and Destroy is one such game.
Humanity has fought and lost against an army of supernatural forces, which has left the world something of a desolate wasteland. However (as with most things) science holds the key to salvation, namely in the form of three unlikely heroes; Barry, Larry and Marie. That last one very nearly rhymes, depending on how you pronounce it. The path to victory looks impossible, however thanks to the three clever boffins dissecting their enemies and researching more efficient ways to dispatch them, there is a glimmer of hope.
The single-player campaign puts you in control of all three super scientists as they jump head first into battle across different regions of the newly occupied world. These play out as turn-based affairs, however each character can be freely controlled for a very short amount of time, seconds in fact. Moving, attacking and using abilities all eats up time, so carefully planning your strategy is key. Helpfully, you can hit Y to enter a drone mode to survey the battlefield, and X to access a birds-eye view map of the situation.
Each of your super scientists in Research and Destroy come equipped with a weapon that has two firing modes, alongside a gadget which vary greatly in their abilities. These can of course be upgraded, and new items can be unlocked as you play (but I’ll come back to that). You start with some pretty nifty firearms such as a humble rifle as well as a cluster grenade launcher, which are great fun to use but do also require a little skill to get the most from your shots.
You’ll be given several objectives per mission, and it isn’t just about blowing up zombies and other supernatural nasties. There are several items you’ll need to interact with which will also take up your time, including research stations, satellite nodes and more. This introduces some choices for your strategy. Do you rush the objectives, or move forward carefully ensuring your enemies don’t overwhelm you? It’s fairly straightforward but throws some variety into your playthrough at least.
Once you’re done, it’s time to see what the crafty forces of evil have up their sleeve. In Research and Destroy you’ll be facing off against various monsters including; zombies, ghosts, werewolves, phantoms, poltergeists and loads more. Each of them have different ranges of movement and attacks, which you will do well to learn. After the existing units have done their thing, reinforcements usually spawn but aren’t able to move in the same turn (you’ll be glad to know).
On the ground battles are linked together by a larger strategy, that being on the world stage. The regional map details who controls each territory, pointing you in the right direction to explore. The main aim is to close down several portals around the world to stem the tide of supernatural invaders, but you need to find them first.
As well as attacking in Research and Destroy, you will find yourself having to defend your captured regions. Every so often an area at random will come under attack, and you will need to defend it in a tower defence style scenario. In order to research new tech and unlock new items, you’re required to build a university in each safe region. This becomes the prime target for your enemies, and if you lose the battle they will destroy it.
You can install several defences in and around your universities, as well as researching new weapons and gadgets and upgrading them, unlocking new abilities. Gadgets can prove really useful in a battle, whether its jet boots to rush an objective or throwing a boombox to distract your enemies by having them unable to resist dancing to the beat, it adds options for your winning strategy.
It’s also at the university where you can study the remains of your enemies more closely. All of this activity costs time, which exposes you to another potential attack on your captured regions. It will also cost you cash, which you earn in battles as well as completing additional objectives across your campaign, such as researching varying amounts of different creatures. Again, this introduces a simple layer of strategy with the option to press forward and conquer, or slowly advance with an upgraded arsenal and reinforce your safe territories.
As a result no two campaigns in Research and Destroy will play out the same. However, despite the core battle gameplay being really good fun, it doesn’t have enough depth to warrant a second playthrough straight after your first. This is because you’ll have been exposed to everything pretty quickly, so by the end of the campaign you’ll know how it all works back to front. The repetitive nature isn’t a bad thing, but it does have its limits. Some players will hit theirs sooner than others.
Research and Destroy looks pretty good, its cel shaded visuals matching the wacky tone of the game itself. The monster designs are the most interesting part, and there’s something hilarious about looking at a contorted zombie down the lens of your rifle before blowing its head off. The opening menu and loading screen look a bit dodgy, but this isn’t indicative of how the game is when you’re playing (thank goodness). It’s all pleasing on the eye when things get going.
You can also change your characters in terms of outfits and how they look, or just randomise for something completely mismatched. This can be done before heading into each battle, alongside changing up your weapon and gadget loadouts. If I’m being honest, I stuck with the default styles but it was nice to have the option.
As entertaining as the solo campaign is, the biggest pull for Research and Destroy is the drop in and drop out multiplayer. You can team up with friends locally or with anyone online, even part way through your existing campaign. The second player will take control of their own team acting simultaneously with the other player. It’s great fun and builds on the complexity of the scenarios, something that the single player campaign misses at times.
Research and Destroy feels like a refreshing change of pace thanks to its blend of turn based strategy and real time action. However, you’ll need to play with others to get the best from it.
Research and Destroy is on the Xbox Store