The Showdown Effect Beta Impressions
Who doesn’t love the good old action movies of the 80s and 90s? There’s something epic about one man taking down a horde of terrorists and other baddies using nothing but a couple of guns, a ton of ammo and a few well-timed catchphrases.
While action movie games haven’t really translated over to video games, with the exception of Uncharted (though that’s more Indiana Jones action-adventure than an Arnie/Sly/Bruce action flick), the folks at Arrowhead Games are giving it a try with The Showdown Effect.
If you haven’t heard of The Showdown Effect, chances are that you’ve skipped a bunch of coverage on the blogs and YouTube. Arrowhead and publisher Paradon Interactive have been getting the word out mostly through mid-sized bloggers and YouTubers.
The game is billed as a 2.5D multiplayer action that serves as an homage to classic action movies. I’d say that it would be a bit more accurately described as an online version of Super Smash Brothers with guns, platforming and action movie clichés.
The combat in TSE is pretty unique for what is a cross between a sidescrolling platformer, a shooter and a multiplayer combat game. There are both guns and melee weapons but the balance comes from the fact that you must place your crosshairs over a target to shoot it. Aiming short or long causes you to miss. This makes it easier for you to move towards your target and decapitate it without becoming Swiss cheese.
As for the platforming, there are a couple of action movie clichés thrown in here. There’s diving and shooting which is every action hero’s favourite. Another popular move is the jump onto the side of the wall and pull yourself up. You can also do a bit of wall running and sliding down walls which is more kung-fu movie cliché than action movie cliché but let’s not get into a big argument over clichés.
The game itself is going to be shipping with four maps and four game modes but I was only able to sample three of each during the beta period. The maps are set in different locations and time periods but apart from the visual changes, I didn’t find anything particularly memorable to set them apart.
The game modes were interesting. There’s a team deathmatch which isn’t won by the most kills but by having all members of the opposing team dead at the same time. In this mode, the first player killed respawns after five seconds. Every respawn after that takes five seconds longer than the previous. In one game, I sat out about 50 seconds before getting back into the game and we barely survived that.
The Expendables mode works in a similar way. The two teams are Expendables (who I didn’t get a chance to play but seemed superpowered to a clichéd extreme) and the Henchmen. I didn’t actually see my Expendables game to completion but I know that the Expendables have Team Deathmatch style respawns while Henchmen get instant respawns. Presumably, the way to end the game is to kill all the Expendables.
The bread and butter of this game is Showdown mode. That’s the free-for-all deathmatch game mode of TSE. It has a timed deathmatch component where you rack up points for kills. The unique aspect of this is the Showdown which ends the matches. In it, you get one life and fight to be the last man standing. There are effectively two winners in the mode: The guy with the most points and the last man standing.
That’s not all the game is supposed to have on offer. As I mentioned, there is an additional game mode that I didn’t get a chance to play in beta. There are also supposed to be more characters and weapons shipped with the final release. The description on Steam also suggested that there will be a single-player mode included which definitely wasn’t part of the beta.
The game isn’t without some issues. Dropping into a Ranked Match (which seems to only be Showdown matches) seemed to match you with anyone looking for a Ranked Match rather than keeping folks around the same skill level together. The menus might have been my biggest issue as game search filters didn’t seem to work when you came out of a match. For example, I’d tell the game to hide full games but after exiting a match, all the full games were listed despite the filter to hide full games supposedly being active.
Now, this is just a beta so it’s understandable to have some bugs like that. The game itself seemed to work fairly well. There was a bit of lag and frame rate drops but that’s to be expected for an open beta. Presumably, all that I mentioned above will fixed or worked on before release.
If you’re looking for a PC version of Smash Bros., The Showdown Effect would seem to do the trick. I liked it enough that I’m going to buy it. If you’re still a bit unsure about buying it, I’ll be doing a review of it soon.
The Showdown Effect is due for release on March 5th for Windows and Mac.