The Showdown Effect – The Verdict

Steven Fulton April 22, 2013 0
The Showdown Effect – The Verdict

I just killed a man by throwing a broadsword at him. Before diving out of a window. Backwards. Followed by a hail of bullets fired from his teammates. I hit the ground back first, flip back onto my feet, and vanish in a shower of gibs and blood as a rocket hits me. This is The Showdown Effect, and despite sounding incredible – I’m actually quite annoyed at it.

An easy description would be to call on such venerable ancestors such as Super Smash Brothers and… basically every side-scrolling action game ever made. It sports a 3D-looking-but-actually-2D world of glass windows (to dive through), weapons (to pick up and swing/shoot), and improbably arranged platforms. A singularly multiplayer experience, you join a team of other like-minded souls and try to kill the other team as often as possible, while dodging or diving around to survive the inevitable retaliation.

“Open wide… now say ‘AARGH!!’”

 

A curious smattering of game modes all revolve around these principles, occasionally adding a few wild-cards to the mix. For example, one involves a team of players trying to survive as long as possible against re-spawning waves of hired goons with random weapons – each controlled by a member of the opposing team. It adds little to the overall experience, but it’s a pleasant change of pace. Of course, the standard full-fat deathmatch is here too, and is probably the best way to play – for reasons I shall elaborate on shortly.

The Showdown Effect also sports an interesting combat system, in that you simply can’t spray bullets in someone’s general direction and hope for a kill. Rather, the game demands you actually aim at an enemy for your bullets to hit home. This is something of an obstacle early on, as it feels very counter-intuitive to my Soldat-honed 2D reflexes, but it soon becomes second nature. It works quite well overall, thanks to your rather extensive acrobatic abilities – a running gun battle is a mouse-killing exercise that can occasionally be thrilling as you dive, leap, wall-jump and climb your way around claustrophobic maps.

Dutch isn't actually dutch, it seems.

Dutch isn’t actually dutch, it seems.

More often than not, sadly, it ends up with some muppet running up and whacking you with a sword, killing you instantly. Melee weapons, it seems, are slightly over-powered.

This happened a fair amount in the beta. I gave it the benefit of the doubt then because… well, it was a beta. Bugs and balance were still on-going, and it was an occasional gripe that didn’t quite ruin things that much. Now, however, it’s a borderline nightmare. Bullets in The Showdown Effect are dodge-able,  a lightsaber swung from three feet away is not.  Now I will freely admit to my lack of skill in games that eschew the third dimension – I was always terrible at Soldat. But unloading a full clip into someone as they sprint up to you, then dying to a single click – it’s infuriatingly silly.

The maps are also seemingly heavily nuanced towards these melee powerhouses too – tight corridors and doors/obstacles that block your line-of-sight all allow sneaky players to be right on top of you before you can react. Of course, you can always pick up a melee weapon and do what all the cool kids are doing too, which fortunately does make things a little more manageable. However, with such a slick ability to dodge bullets like a meerkat, it does take a bit of wind out of the game’s sails when it degenerates into a “who clicks first, wins” thing.

You can do training offline, but it's a bit naff.

You can do training offline, but it’s a bit naff.

The switch to melee weapons also has another unfortunate effect, at least for myself, in that every game I have played as had friendly-fire on. It is incredibly easy to kill a teammate with a mistimed swing of your sword/club/broom and it can get understandably irritating. I have been kicked for team-killing more times in The Showdown Effect than I have from 8 years of playing Counter-Strike. I’ve also been killed more times from random acts of friendly-fire than I care to count.

The Showdown Effect isn’t a bad game. I’ve had a fair few rounds that left me elated and with a sore pinkie-finger. It looks superb, with quasi-cell-shaded characters that all seem to be the product of watching way too many action movies of a weekend, flipping and fighting on some very nice scenery. A personal favorite of mine is the city map that has a Godzilla-style monster trashing the city in the distance as you leap and shoot. The effects are pleasant and vibrant, and the action fluid – even if it does get a bit hectic at times.

He was a squirrel in a previous life. True story.

He was a squirrel in a previous life. True story.

Sadly, however, all of this kind of falls flat as you come to realise that there simply isn’t enough of a community there to keep the game alive. Ranked matches are a rarity whenever I’ve tried to play, which leaves the “Custom Game” lobby the only real way to get a game going. And the most custom games running I’ve seen there is three. THREE. One was even required a password. Another refused to let me connect due to something called “Latency Threshold”, slang for “Your internet sucks” I guess. But for a game that has no real way to play alone – this kills The Showdown Effect significantly more than dodgy melee weapons ever could.

A rarely singular game, that simply no-one seems to want to play. Probably due to idiots with lightsabers, methinks.

 

Verdict – Off Target

 

Platforms Available – PC

Platform Reviewed – PC

Please read this page for more on our scoring policy. Review based on a Steam key supplied by Paradox.

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