Parody found in video games is often quite thin on the ground. This is largely because we are in a section of the entertainment industry that is still trying to establish credibility and mocking oneself is usually reserved for those with confidence. Arrowhead are brimming with confidence and rightly so. They enjoyed huge success with their first title, Magicka, a game which blends cooperative gameplay with hilarious backstabbing, just because it can be funny. The comedic fire wielding mages are now recognised by the majority of gamers globally and the light-hearted story they explored in Magicka was pulsating with parody through to the end.
Now that Arrowhead have finally started to ease up on the deluge of DLC they released for Magicka they turned their humour and skills onto their next project, The Showdown Effect.
This is 80’s style, action hero cheese, in a bloody 2.5D multiplayer format. Pick a character, get into an online game and start leaping, slicing and shooting your way through any other person you see, all the while wise-cracking one-liners.
Lets mention the price so we all know where The Showdown Effect sits in your game library. It is only £8/E10/$12, but that low price does not mean low production value. The title feels pretty tight in terms of production, but the cost more accurately reflects the limited available content. There are a handful of maps, which are cleverly designed around an 8 person Showdown, a few characters and only 4 game types to choose from....at the moment. Because, as we saw with Magicka, these guys are masters of DLC.
Our buddies over at The Showdown Effect’s publishers, Paradox Interactive, know GD pretty well and they basically said, with a community like yours, you guys will be able to experience the game as it is intended to be played, en masse. They then kindly sent us through a handful of codes and told us to start shooting our GD buddies.
Naturally we obliged.
We picked some of the nastiest, dirtiest, meanest guys from GD...I know, I know, that doesn’t work, does it? Let me try again. So we picked a bunch of really nice, easy-going, fun guys from GD to run and gun together with in the Showdown Effect and they kindly put down some of their thoughts for you guys to read.
"There are numerous Player-versus-Player games out there, every single one has their own style and feel that identifies them from each other, but what matters the most that it packs competitive and fun gameplay, along with an adequate balance to deliver an enjoyable experience to both newcomers and veteran players. Arrowhead Game Studios were aware of this, and their latest game Showdown Effect is now here to corroborate that. Showdown Effect's hectic game mechanics work very well coupled with humorous writing and a true PvP feeling that puts players into an aggressive and straightforward, action oriented game.
The game gives players the freedom to pull off fancy evasive moves while emptying a 200 round magazine on the face of a random fun-seeking player somewhere on the globe. There are up to eight playable characters that will let you do that. The bad thing were servers starting to act up from time to time, and the game crashing twice on me. Unlockables vary from Weapon types to Wearable items, and their price rise as they get better and shinier. I had quite a fun time playing with the Game-Debate crew, once we could finally connect to a same server that is."
"First impressions of the game were interesting. The menu has unique old style arcade game look and feel to it. Trying to join a game was difficult at first but the game received an update that made it much better. Players can choose the distance to the host that they want to join.
I found the Game play to be enjoyable; but the movement in the game was a bit difficult at first. The team elimination game mode is very fun. One neat feature about the game is that players receive ‘AD’ points at the end of each game that can used to buy upgrades and equipment. One feature about the game that stuck out to me was the fact that you can interact with some of the items on the walls of the maps and use them as Weapons/Shields. Another cool thing is the fact that players can use self heals and a 'quick reload' feature. I thought that the graphics were average and the voice over’s were a bit ‘cheesy.’ I felt that some of the weapons are under powered and some are overpowered."
Showdown is a game we've seen many times before, most of them playable on a random game site. However, they didn't offer what Showdown brings to the table; a great atmosphere.
The atmosphere is presented to you by their graphical style, humor and gameplay. The graphics look great for a 2D platformer, there is a lot of detail, huge pink monsters fighting in the background for example.
The multiple characters also play a big role in the identity of this game. You do not get a story apart from perhaps 40 words. You learn their character whilst playing with them. They all have phrases upon killing, being killed, jumping, etc. which really represents their own identity. It's done very well. Apart from that, the game doesn't offer anything you havent seen before. The gameplay is good but not revolutionary.
Nonetheless, this game is worth the price. The atmosphere it brings is certainly a reason to try out the game if you like the genre.
"Arcade style games don't often have very broad appeal; you either like Tekken, or you don't. I normally fall in the latter category, but I was convinced to try The Showdown Effect with a few of GD, and I wasn't disappointed. It takes a bit of getting used to, the controls feel very odd initially, and remembering to click on the enemies rather than past them took me a while (despite the games reminders). However, once you've got the hang of them, the game is fantastic; it plays just like you think it should, with all the 80's explosions, cliches and styles.
It feels great to just be awesome; fire a rocket behind you while sliding across the floor, do a quick sideways roll to dodge a newcomer, then whip out your katana and finish him. I can't think of many games that let you just be awesome. The plus side of course is that this is against people, so you're not going to just "learn" the AI. When you beat someone, it's your skill versus theirs; very rewarding! Some issues exist of course. Notably some international server limitations, but the game is made to be played via the matchmaking for some great games. The unlockables were very cheap for the gameplay adjusters (guns, characters), and expensive enough to be satisfying to earn for the cosmetics"
"The Showdown Effect is like no other game I have played, it has a unique feel to it and is fast paced at times and very addictive! From Light Sabers to Shotguns and Miniguns, the weapons in this game are fantastic! With a good load of accessories to customize your character with, the combinations can be really bad ass or even funny.
The sound effects are great and crisp and the graphics are pleasant and would run on weaker laptops just fine considering it is a side scrolling game. The game-play is comfortable and the parkour is smooth.
With the many humorous comments that characters shout out and funny weapon descriptions it really makes this full of fun! The down sides I have found were the connection issues on the first day of launch.
I was unable to connect to anyone out side of my country, this was frustrating and luckily was fixed shortly after with a small patch. All in all, this game is a must have if you are looking for an exciting, quick and a fun match with friends. I would definitely recommend it."
Thats some pretty healthy scores across the board from our GD game testers then.
A point of note was that our first experience with the title was one of frustration, as we all tried numerous ways to connect with each other from various places around the world. Despite Steam and the game’s own hosting features, our bunch could not log in to each others games easly, especially if they were on another continent. After a brief chat with the Pubs this issue seemed to ease up, but even now there seems to be a constant issue with ping, lag and game finding/connecting in general. In game this problem translates into those familiar moments where you will say “...how did that person kill me? They were nowhere near me!”
Developers often try hard to reduce any player entry barriers to their games. This means easing the learning curve, while still attempting to offer lasting gameplay depth. The Showdown Effect mechanics are certainly easy to learn and you will be jumping and slaying in minutes, but it may suffer in the long term. Mastery in a game like Showdown comes from perfecting the timing of key presses but when you factor in constant bad pings from you and your competition this may not be possible. With that taken out of the equation we are left with few character moves and limited, sometimes unbalanced, weaponry. Despite this it is almost certain that a flood of extra DLC will arrive for The Showdown Effect over the coming months, offering further lifespan.
As the Showdown Effect does not need a powerful PC to run, you can find yourself on a lunchbreak tearing through a dozen hi-octane rounds with time left over, whereas getting a round of BF3 completed in the same time is usually unlikely.
As games go The Showdown Effect knows what it is trying to deliver and does it well for the right price. A fitting summary would be cheesy, cheerful and cheap, while also being fast, furious but sometimes frustrating.
I have often found myself looking for a quick-play, action title and this game meets those needs without breaking the bank. The Showdown Effect will get your adrenaline pumping, while not taking up much of your time or brain. Get online and slide-shoot people until they explode, it’s really fun, for a while.