Reading through Takedown: Red Sabre's Kickstarter page may give the impression that the game is a spiritual successor to classic PC shooters like Rainbow Six and SWAT4. Instead, like Tom Clancy's imagining of the submarine Red October, the threat of this game engages the player with little to no warning.
The idea behind Takedown is a throwback to the classic era of PC tactical first-person shooters, but the desire to perform any form of tactic is tossed aside to make way for frustrating gameplay, unrealistic AI and disappointing physics. My first playthrough began with a member of my team relentlessly crouching and standing upright in an endless wave of teabagging while enemies sprayed bullets in our direction. Squadmates often stand in place like cardboard cutouts as enemies assault only to suddenly become active and return fire a few seconds after combat begins. I've had some enemies outright ignore me for nearly a minute after I accidentally sprint into them. Grenades bounce off of objects and sometimes launch across rooms as if they were thrown onto a trampoline, and enemies sometimes launch into the air or soar across a room when killed.
Bad AI is Takedown's most crippling issue. Explosions don't tip them off to enemy presence. Flashbangs seem to be low-grade sparklers to them. They would rather stare at walls than pursue enemies and they often choose to shuffle around in a circle before engaging the player. Enemies can sometimes spot the player seemingly by looking through objects, yet they sometimes walk by a door where the player is in plain sight without a single reaction.
The game's graphics are very rough, and the overall visuals look incomplete. Some weapons lack fire animations. Enemies look like an alpha build of characters from a mid-2000s game instead of a product from 2013. Anyone expecting top notch, or even acceptable, graphics from Takedown will be disappointed. Areas in a single mission often look recycled and uninspired. This can become especially troublesome if you become lost and can't remember what floor you're on. Most other shooter games would have the player press the “M” key and dissolve the confusion, but there is no key to bring up a map in Takedown.
Stage objectives are challenging and fun to attempt, but the frustration from bad AI and no map assistance kills the mood. Some objectives like “destroy PC disk drives” are entirely too obscure. I discovered how to complete this objective by aimlessly firing in an office for no reason and struck a PC tower by accident. A room filled with large, standup computers was introduced before the office room was, so I was frantically trying to discover how to destroy these disk drives. The player normally interacts with objectives by holding the shift key, so changes in how objectives are completed introduced a great deal of confusion.
Players may choose to customize layouts in order to choose primary and secondary weapons, grenades and
breach charges; but customization often yields little change. I never felt like using a different weapon mattered much. The true difference came when I chose scopes over red sights, but I abandoned worrying about either after shooting enemies spot on in the abdomen only to have them scurry away unscathed and aimlessly charge up and down flights of stairs. Flashbang grenades leave enemies unharmed and hardly alert. Nearby explosions from frag grenades resulted in enemies staying in the same position, admiring the walls that enemies often stare at rather than reacting like a person would.
Takedown offers Mission, Bomb Disarm and Tango Hunt modes of play. Bomb Disarm and Tango Hunt could arguably be more enjoyable than Mission, but the same issues haunt these alternate modes of play. These modes are made worse than Mission because a player's squad is reduced to one. It then becomes quicker to be killed, quicker to be overwhelmed by several bad guys so one random shot can instantly kill the player, and quicker to realize that the noise suppressor accessory for the weapons is garbage. If the idea behind Takedown is to be a spiritual successor to old games like Rainbow Six or other tactical, team-based shooters, then the idea of reducing a team to one to defuse bombs or to take out an enemy team is absolutely befuddling.
Takedown: Red Sabre is a good concept's stage show of poor execution. The project's potential can certainly be felt and understood, but the likeliness of such potential surfacing – even through patches – is low. To call the Takedown project lazy would be harsh, but it wouldn't be inaccurate. The goals for this project were laid out in the open both in the Kickstarter campaign and on the game's official website, but very little victory can be tasted in this final product. Couple a disappointing experience with a $14.99 price tag, and you have arguably the most disappointing video game to be funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
|Patrick "Debaser" Breeden is a Website Administrator and Assistant Weekend News Editor here at ScrewAttack. He started in April, 2008 as a site mod and worked his way up. His love for media is trumped only by his love for video games. His obsession with Mortal Kombat is legendary in the community, so don't tell him that "Noob Saibot" is a dumb name for a character now. Just don't do that.|
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