Good level design, intense action, simple and efficient interface
Nobody's playing, graphical bugs, poor hit detection, lacklustre sound effects, no plot
Rekoil had a simple goal – to resurrect old-time multiplayer first-person arena shooter dynamics, and restore the excitement of an Unreal Tournament “Mmmmmmonsterkill…”
In this aim, developer Plastic Piranha’s ambitious shooter failed – spectacularly.
On the surface, Rekoil is a poor-to-very middling shooter along the lines of Counter Strike. Two teams of interchangeable terrorist-alikes battle over maps covering everything from wooded solitude to a burning oil terminal, blowing chunks out of each other at speed.
Everything is unlocked from the get-go – from loadouts to weapon skins – and after that, it’s just a case of finding the enemy and shooting at them until they stop twitching.
This, of course, is where the game falls apart.
Finding a game on the 50 Rekoil servers isn’t too difficult, but there’s rarely any large number of gamers online.
Those that are in a game find themselves inhabiting a buggy, glitchy mess which feels horribly unbalanced and rushed – and this might explain the declining player base.
Whether playing in team deathmatch, regular deathmatch or Rekoil’s dull versions of capture the flag (this time with added briefcase…), the core gameplay is so poor that any fun you could have – and there is a little to be had, trust me – gets sucked out fast.
Spawning, for example, is utterly rubbish. More often than not the game will spawn you in the middle of a firefight, or directly in front of an enemy player, or sometimes inside them (ooh matron), resulting in constant spawn-killing.
Even if you do manage to move off the spawn point, the shot-detection is so generous that vaguely firing in the direction of your foe will normally get a kill – aim a little higher and a headshot is pretty much simplicity.
Then there’s the weapons. While I can’t deny that unlocking all the kit from the off is a rare treat these days, the firepower is extremely unbalanced and requires little skill to use. Sniper rifles are astonishingly accurate, even at short-range with no scope in use, and most games quickly degrade to sniper-only matches in just a few minutes.
Shotguns, meanwhile, are useless at short-range as the hit detection is spotty at best, while all assault rifles are brilliant at long-range – even the ones which state they’re inaccurate at anything over a meter.
This makes most games damn tricky to enjoy, as death is constantly right around the next corner – even more than usual in multiplayer games.
Not a looker
Although the menu interface is pretty neat and tidy – getting into a game needs only a quick click – once you’re in the game, the poor graphics, low framerate and dodgy animations sully the experience.
Every player character – while customisable – has stereotypical bad/good guy written all over him. Characters look blocky at a distance, and only become marginally less blocky as they stumble closer.
Death animations run the gamut from dramatic, bullet-laced backflip to hilarious, sky-launched ragdoll – there’s no realism here.
The weapons, meanwhile, are also blocky, and sound worse – little thought was put into the sound design. The hilarious death screams are a rare highpoint, however, although the hilarity may have been an accident, rather than by design.
But, despite the stream of downers I’ve covered so far, the level design is a rare high point.
On the level
It’s clear the developers have put some thought into angles of fire, and just how sneaky players can be. There’s tight corridors one minute and open plazas the next. Hills and low walls offer a savvy gunman a little cover while strafing around in circles, and bullets blast through open windows as you cower in an abandoned prison block.
Sure, the game lacks the tenets we’ve come to expect of a modern FPS – there’s no destructible environment, perks, killstreaks or drivable vehicles here – but the simple twitch-based shooting makes up for it somewhat.
It’s low-rent, and buggy, but there is still fun to be had. Indeed, at its best, Rekoil captures some of the intensity of old-school multiplayer shooters – it’s just a shame that the rest of the game falls far short of that goal.
I certainly would avoid paying full price for it.
Granted, the inclusion of modding tools could offer a little life to the game, but whether any modder would put their time into such a buggy mess remains to be seen.
Overall, Rekoil could have been a fun, easy to play title which recaptured the easy intensity of Unreal or Counter Strike, but instead falls very short. It’s buggy, glitch, hard to enjoy at its best, and since hardly anyone is playing it, I expect it will go free-to-play very quickly.
“Missed opportunity” doesn’t even start to describe what this game could have been.