Rekoil Review

• written by Krist Duro

Rekoil is an unfinished game that definitely wasn't ready for a retail release...

I am going to be frank here . . . while I find the base game of Rekoil pretty damn fun at times, everything outside of the mechanics themselves seems to pull this game down and, honestly, I don't feel it will be a worthwhile investment for many, even at the $15 price tag. The game itself plays fairly well, the majority of the maps are well designed and the weapons, for the most part, are rather fairly balanced. What's the problem then? It suffers from a severe lack of polish and is really just a game that was not quite ready to be released. Technically, the game is far behind the times. Far more than you would expect from even a budget title today. Worse than that, the game is still rather unstable. From frequent crashes, bugs in game modes keeping them from playing as intended, to animation glitches, this is certainly a title not ready for retail, but at retail we will find it nonetheless so I will be critiquing it as such.

As I stated earlier the game, on paper, isn't so bad. Gunplay feels relatively solid, with a nice feel to the weapons themselves in the way of shot patterns and recoil. There is a nice selection of varied maps available from launch, with the majority of maps holding up well with the varied game modes on offer. As well as the rather large selection of weapons in the game all, for the most part, feeling rather balanced with each other, allowing for more than a handful of guns becoming the "go-to's" for the game, which can often be seen in competitive online shooters. Speaking of the game modes, while this title was obviously designed with the deathmatch gamer in mind, it does offer up some nice alternatives such as 'Domination', where it is each team's objective to hold certain spots on the maps for points, 'Capture the Briefcase', which is really just 'Capture the Flag', 'Hold the Briefcase', where players are tasked with picking up a briefcase and holding onto it for as long as possible, raising their overall score in the process. Then there's my personal favorite;'Rekondite', which is essentially Rekoil's version of the rather popular 'Hidden' mod for Half-Life 2, where one player plays as a mostly invisible 'Ghost' character who is granted a much faster movement speed, though is limited to a knife and tasked with taking down the entire apposing team on their own. I found all of the game modes rather worthwhile though, sadly, and here is where I come to my biggest issue with the game, as will it be for the vast majority of gamers perhaps interested in this title . . . there were very few instances where I was able to play the other game modes because, well, there's nobody playing the game.

Even as early as the launch of the game itself, I never saw even a hundred people playing. Cut to twenty-four hours after launch, it seemed to hold no more than forty at any one time and has only dwindled since then. At the time of writing, less than a week after launch, you are lucky to even find a full match for the game's most popular mode, TDM. Let alone any active matches in the other modes. It's a sad truth, but one that renders this game almost pointless to recommend, even if the game itself was a fun (albeit buggy) experience for me.

With that out of the way, that isn't to say I didn't have other problems with the game as well. While I do very much enjoy the gunplay itself, the game is a very, very bare-bones experience, offering nothing in the way of rank progression, unlocks, etc. It is a play for the sake of playing experience that, while I am more than fine with, is in opposition of the vast majority of competitive online titles at the moment and I feel it will put off those who are used to that sense of progression, as superficial as it can often be.

From a technical standpoint . . . this feels more like an early 2000 release than a title that's releasing in 2014. Even if it is only $15, there is no denying that the production values are pretty poor. The game runs Unreal Engine 3, though you would never know it by looking at it. Honestly, it is closer to somewhere in the middle-ground of the original first two iterations of the engine than that seen of titles running UE3. This wouldn't really be a problem, mind you, if the performance was indicative of the lack of overall visual fidelity. While the game almost never dipped under 90fps on my single GTX680, I would have expected to be able to keep a solid 144 under almost any circumstances. Animation quality doesn't fair much better, with reloading and running animations being rather jerky and stiff. Sound design fairs a bit better, though it is still very much a mixed bag. Gun sounds range from good to weak. Shotguns, assault rifles and sub-machine guns all seem to hold up well, whereas handguns, snipers and LMGs all sound decidedly weak and under-powered.

The one true saving grace and much touted bullet point for the game itself comes in the form of its day one mod tools, however. From the beginning, this was a title that wanted the community to be involved in its growth. To do so, they took the full tool-set used to develop the game itself and handed it to the players to move forward with. This is actually a very respectable thing, especially in the days of premium priced DLC and buying maps at $15 a pop. I respect that this is there, but, with very few people playing, I don't really see this going anywhere. While I do believe, if nothing else, this game may just hold a truly hardcore following, I don't see many people designing maps for just a handful of people to possibly experience. I really am hoping to see the numbers grow a bit and a budding modding scene actually emerge from it. Only time will tell.

Bottom Line

I hope all the best for the guys over at Plastic Piranha. This was definitely not meant to be a purposely shoddy release just thrown out there to the public just to see if it sells. They seem to be a dedicated group and, even now, with the fair bit of negativity the game is getting, they are out there, talking to the community and trying to improve the game in any way they can. I do want to note that a number of the main issues I had with the game, namely the crashes and issues affecting my favorite game mode in particular, have been cleared up at the time of writing. Performance still isn't where I feel it should be, though it's not terrible and there is still a very, very small number of gamers playing, however. It is nice to see the developers sticking with their game and trying to improve things for those who have already bought the game and those who may in the future though.

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