Published on February 8, 2013 at 10:51 PM | by Christopher Hall0
“The Showdown Effect” Preview
“The Showdown Effect: The Showdown Effect is a 2.5D multiplayer action game inspired by 80’s and 90’s action movies. Champions from throughout time fight to death for fun, for glory and for awesome.”
From the publisher and developer that unleashed the sleeper hit “Magicka” to the world in 2011 comes a game that believes that the world had a serious lack of 2.5D bullets and explosions… and window diving.
I remember the first time that my sweaty hands clenched a mostly-worn out N64 controller playing Super Smash Bros. The simple controls and multiplayer action had a really easy to pick up style, and yet, while I’m still playing the 3rd installment of that game, to this day I know that I’m quite far from mastering it. It’s been 14 years, and I find that feeling creeping up on me again every time that I launch the beta version of Paradox Interactive’s “The Showdown Effect”.
Like Smash Bros, the game is ludicrously easy to learn. When you launch the game for the first time a button on the main menu (Learn to play!) glows at you and you click it expecting some kind of lengthy tutorial. Instead of this, you get a single screen telling you how the mouse will react depending on the type of weapon you’re holding, and how to switch between the weapons available to you. It’s quite simple really – you set the loadout on the myriad of characters available to you from the main screen (Two primary weapons, ranging from melee weapons like a katana blade to various firearms) and after that it is as simple as selecting the character at the start of the match.
The matches as of the current beta build are quite simple – You’ve got a standard deathmatch mode in which 2-8 players kill each other by depleting opponents’ health bars over and over for 5 minutes while racking up a kill count (respawn is currently unlimited during deathmatch) at which point “Showdown Mode” triggers and everyone receives full health and ammunition for a no-respawn, one-life-left last man standing style bloodbath that results in a few extra kill points for the victor. That’s literally all there is to it. There’s also a team-style deathmatch with friendly-fire enabled which while fun, gets a little difficult with the maximum 8 players on the stage.
Now, this might seem a little bland, but Arrowhead has done an impressive job with the play control of the game. Tapping crouch while running allows you to slide while still firing your weapon. Pushing ALT lets you dive toward another player, potentially grappling them off a ledge. There’s a multitude of ledges that can be ascended or dropped down through with a simple push of the jump button and the direction of the terrain. Characters can wall-jump, climb smooth surfaces briefly (sometimes just enough to make it to that ledge, and sometimes just shy enough to embarrassingly fall to your death) and jumping at a ledge while holding up (the game uses standard FPS controls by the way, WASD + mouse and other keys you’ll be familiar with right away if you have any PC gaming experience at all) will result in your character fluidly climbing the ledge and getting right back into the hunt, or to the fleeing – there’s definitely plenty of fleeing as well.
Add that to a pile of interactive objects scattered about the map (ranging from medieval-style weapons that deal massive amounts of damage to fire extinguishers) that can all be thrown with a tap of the shift button and elevators that add a tense element of luck and strategy and you’ve got an impressive amount of depth in a very explosive package. The game also features a Gears of War style timed reload bonus (which can admittedly be quite tricky in the midst of battle) and a bandage system which will refill your health without limit at the cost of sitting still during the lengthy regeneration period. All of this adds a surreal level of tension to the game. To keep you playing, each match awards you AC, an in-game currency used to unlock more weapons, characters, and cosmetic items to make you stand out from the crowd. There’s even a ranked matchmaking system that (as of this writing) uses an MMR visible after each match to rate your performance, and an XP bar that was added on the most recent patch that currently doesn’t do anything other than fill up.
The game makes a solid attempt at humor as well with the characters occupying well-known movie tropes like the Arnoldesque Dutch McClone, or Roger Murtaugh-inspired (of Lethal Weapon fame) Lance Koboldski , spouting lines you’d expect their fictional-yet-famous counterparts to say. All the characters come equipped with a special ability accessed with the SHIFT key that range from a temporary shield of immunity to a poison cloud.
As it stands, the game is very much in beta. While the controls are tight and the gameplay fast-paced and reaching a polished state, there are balance issues with the character abilities and weapons that are obviously being addressed on a patch-to-patch basis. The two available maps showcase what direction Arrowhead is taking with the game, and I’ve got nothing but optimism for The Showdown Effect. Even though the matches themselves last only 5 minutes, I found much larger chunks of time passing incredibly quickly while playing the game.
If you’re interested in playing the beta, you can pre-order the game at it’s website for immediate access!