In this day and age, it’s incredibly easy to pick on games like Rekoil: Liberator. Counterstrike knock-offs have been a dime a dozen since Valve’s multiplayer shooter became popular at the turn of the century. There’s no doubting that Rekoil is a Counterstrike wannabe. The key question is: does it do anything advance the gameplay or is it a pathetic money grab?
Immediately after loading up Rekoil, the parallels to Counterstrike are obvious. Rekoil is a first-person shooter designed for multiplayer combat only. When not playing in deathmatch, players are forced on one of two teams (a red team or a blue team) as they attempt to win objectives (capture checkpoints or briefcases) from their enemies. Player kills their enemies to gain an advantage in their objectives or to gain points in traditional deathmatch fashion. Fans of most FPS games will understand the basic concepts immediately.
There is some character customization in Rekoil: Liberator as players get to choose their character skin, their class and their loadouts. Unfortunately, the skin designs seem a bit insensitive and outdated in the modern era. Seriously, there’s a near-racist tribesman character that feels like something out of the 1950’s. Most of the other classes don’t seem too progressive either.
The classes that players can choose from include standard types like a sniper, heavy gunner and a shotgunner. While it is nice to have the old standbys that are tried and true, it would have been better to see some kind of defensive class or a variant that twisted the gameplay in someway. Games like Team Fortress have proven that defensive classes can be fun to play and that first-person shooters can be enjoyed by players that lack professional grade aim.
Once players have selected their character and class, they have the opportunity to select their load-outs. This was one of the more polished areas of the game. Each class has several weapon load-outs to choose from and this provides plenty of variety when in battle. For example, the shotgunner class include several different shotguns to choose from so that players can pick the right weapon for the stage and game type selection. For those clans or serious team players that might try this game, these variants should support a well-organized team looking to work together to tackle a common enemy.
After selecting your character, players are dropped into free-for-all deathmatch or a team-based game type. I encountered no gametypes that were unique to this title and most non-deathmatch game types were variations on capture the flag. It’s definitely disappointing to pick up a title like this that could go out on a limb to try something unique; but, the developers kept things highly derivative and just borrowed from established gametypes.
There are several maps featured in Rekoil: Liberation and they were one of the few positive aspects in this game. While none of these levels remotely looked like next-gen graphics, the developers did a nice job of creating three-dimensional levels that encourage creativity amongst players. Two maps in particular stood out as enjoyable to play because of their complexity: the subway and the jail. Someone at this developer took a lot of time making sure that if the game was generic the maps were interesting enough to keep gamers playing.
Map design aside, there are more problems to deal with. Although the levels seem to have decent graphics, the character design looks dated and the character movement looks incomplete. There were multiple circumstances when my character’s hands looked frozen position as if a robot was moving my appendages. The animation looks either incomplete or abandoned for the sake of saving money. This might have passed muster in 2000 but these days frozen limbs indicate laziness or a lack of polish.
Another strange occurrence in Rekoil is the lack of kicking or voting to kick a player. For a game focused entirely on teamwork and online gameplay to not include a kick function is unconscionable. On numerous occasions I was team-killed by my so-called teammates - forcing the even 3 vs. 3 matches to unfortunate 4 vs. 2 blow-outs. Considering Rekoil will never achieve a massive online following, to not allow for kicking is likely to turn away gamers very early on in their experience. If I had been the developer of this game I would have never allowed the game to leave my office without some kind of safety net to insure that players weren’t being killed intentionally by their teammates.
Unfortunately, it has become too rare for a first person shooter to hit the market from that brings to the table deep replay value and innovative enjoyment. Games like Rekoil lower the bar for everyone and make us all wonder why the game even exists. Was a Russian oil tycoon looking to launder some money through a game studio? Was this the first game by high schoolers obsessed with Counterstrike? Who knows, but what is most important is that you avoid actually spending your hard earned cash on this game. Trust me you’d be better served buying an older game with AAA polish than this D-level turd.
This review was based on a purchased retail copy of Rekoil: Liberator for the Xbox 360.