I’m pretty confident you’re familiar with Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, a colourful battle royale game where you had to survive trials in an ordeal similar to Takeshi’s Castle. Well, at first sight I thought Rubber Bandits was jumping on that bandwagon, but gladly I can report that is not the case. Not in the slightest as it happens.
What we have here instead is a quickfire party game filled with wacky weapons, charming characters and a craving for cash. There are three main modes to play, which you can enjoy both locally and online with up to three other players. The “Arcade” mode offers you the opportunity to tackle the whole range of levels solo, which provides effective practice which will give you an edge over your opponents. If you wish, this mode can also be played cooperatively.
The “Brawl” and “Heist” modes are where you will spend most of your time. The first sets you up each with three hearts and the last man standing wins. There are twenty different weapons to play around with which provide a variety of entertaining ways to take out your opponents. You can throw items at your enemies whilst moving around the arena as well as jumping to dodge incoming attacks. If you time it well, catching an incoming projectile or parrying an attack is possible, but risky if you time it wrong. During battles you can use your D-Pad to emote which serves no practical purpose, but gives your opponents an idea of how you’re feeling. Or, of course, you can simply use these to wind them up.
Chucking items at other players is immensely satisfying, especially if you ping them from the other side of the arena. Some weapons, such as the rocket launcher and lightsabre are especially fun to use. In fact, the controls work well on the whole and are responsive enough to allow for some tense showdowns in the bid to be the victor. You can also enjoy brawling in teams if you are playing local multiplayer.
The Heist mode pits you against the same amount of opponents, however this time your aim is to grab as much cash as you can and hastily make your way to the exit. If you take a hit, your money will scatter over where you fell, meaning other players can cheekily hoover it up. The exit won’t be available immediately however, so timing is key to escape with as much cash as possible.
The first to successfully reach twenty-one will win. However, before long those who escape early will return as cops to try and stop those who remain, meaning there is a trade off between legging it with some cash, or hanging around to try and score the lot. This is my favourite of the modes on offer in Rubber Bandits, right down to the map annotations at the start of each match. It offers the perfect blend of quickfire risk and reward and is an absolute hoot.
Across all modes, you will earn cash depending on how well you perform. There are twenty-five levels set in five different locations which make up the base game, such as the bank, museum and docks. Each has lots of destructive scenery, which adds to the overall carnage in each round. There are also hazards that you can use to your advantage, such as fast moving traffic and interchangeable platforms. Again, it’s especially satisfying luring your opponent into a carefully laid trap.
Your hard earned cash can be used to buy new bandits to play as, and an extra pack of five animal themed characters can be downloaded at no extra cost through the Go Wild Pack. There is also a Chinese New Year theme available too, putting a seasonal slant on the action with new bandits and levels to play. Your little avatars are pretty adorable, matching the bright, vibrant presentation in Rubber Bandits.
You can also check out the Armory, which is essentially a practice arena where every weapon is available, and you can spawn guards to spar with. This can be a laugh if you get some friends involved, but grasping the game is fast and simple so is of little use beyond that.
The base game will cost you £16.74, which is pretty expensive for what’s on offer. However, Rubber Bandits is on Game Pass which eliminates this problem for most. This also helps to support the bustling online community, which means matchmaking is quick and painless just as it should be for a party game. It’s brilliantly easy to jump in and play for a few rounds, or stick around for longer and lose a couple of hours in seemingly no time at all.
Despite the simplicity, there’s enough variety within the matches to keep players coming back for more. The fast, frantic and fun gameplay makes Rubber Bandits a really enjoyable party game which is best when played with others. However, what this reviewer would love to see is more game modes added in the future, because it has the potential to evolve for some time to come.
Despite lacking some depth, Rubber Bandits offers a thoroughly enjoyable multiplayer experience both on and offline. It’s the perfect party game to dip in and out of if you’re after something a little different.
Rubber Bandits is available from the Xbox Store