Updated preview: Takedown: Red Sabre is an intense tactical FPS
When I spent a few minutes with Takedown: Red Sabre at E3 back in June, I really only got a slight feel for what the six-on-six cooperative game had to offer as far as mechanics go. I was since invited to check out an advanced build of the upcoming tactical FPS, and after playing a few matches, trying out the different modes, and talking to developer Serellan, I was able to see that this title will definitely have a lot to offer fans of more strategic shooters, the likes of which were much more prevalent on the PC years ago.
While you could potentially play through any number of missions on your own, the core Takedown experience is based around teaming up with other players and engaging in tactical squad-based missions. There are multiple modes for you to engage in, including Tango Hunt, where you need to pick enemies off one by one, and Bomb Disarm, which tasks you with eliminating bomb threats while simultaneously dealing with any bad guys that get in your way.
Cooperative missions are often scenario-based, requiring you to complete multiple objectives before you can claim victory in an official capacity. This makes the already large open, nonlinear maps feel quite massive. Even small maps can take you a while to traverse due to the fact that you're constantly working toward different goals. While a lot of shooters these days focus on quick run-and-gun action, Takedown forces you to think before you act and tread carefully. This effectively makes the maps feel much larger than most of the stages seen in other FPS titles.
If you choose to play any missions on your own, you'll be accompanied by AI-controlled partners. Thankfully, the AI in Takedown is pretty sharp and works well, whether it's behind your squad members or the very fools you need to take out. Normally, if your character dies while you're playing with human partners, that's pretty much it for you. There are no respawns or magical mushrooms to give you extra lives (because of course mushrooms would be fitting here). If you're playing on your own, however, falling at the hands of the enemy will allow you to take control of another character that was previously being handled by the AI.
In addition to the mission-based modes, you can also get in on some slightly more traditional fun with Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes. I say "slightly more traditional" because, while the core experience does feel like something you may be a bit more used to what with it being more competitive and to the point, the gameplay still retains that slower-paced strategic element that Takedown thrives on. The bigger maps here are actually cut down, and you can select from different sections of the main areas to shoot at other people in. Makes sense — you wouldn't want to be running around a huge level like a goof looking for that last player you need to blast.
Communication is a huge part of succeeding in Takedown. It's important to always let your partners know what you're doing, where you're going, if you've shot down any threats, or if you're aware of any enemies' locations. You could potentially do okay enough without utilizing these tactics, but the missions will be a lot tougher if you go that route. It's best to know what's going on at all times because the UI is super clean and you never know exactly where any enemies may be lurking.
Your character is more than just a disposable avatar, and there are various factors you need to take into account when playing. First off, you need to ensure that you're familiar with the guns you equip, as each weapon works differently. Additionally, armor can slow you down if you go for heavier protection, limiting your mobility despite letting you withstand more damage. You also make more noise if you're too heavily suited, making you an easier target to find. If that wasn't enough, you also need to watch out for damage, because if a shot doesn't kill you, it'll definitely affect your performance. A bullet in the leg, for example, will reduce your speed quite noticeably.
If you just want to get in there and start playing some Takedown, you won't need to worry about unlocking better weapons or armor because everything is available to you right from the get-go. There are no killstreaks or experience points to make you better — you rely entirely on your own gaming abilities and practice. Thankfully, you can get plenty of practice with the weapons in the Kill House, which you can take apart and edit as you see fit to mess around in.
Takedown isn't trying to recreate the types of shooter experiences we see in the current crop of FPS iterations. Instead, the game is revisiting the style seen in older strategy-based shooters. After spending more time with it, I was able to see that it's a very unique type of game for folks who want something that's not as quick as Call of Duty. The reward is still there, but it's not instantaneous, making your really work for it and leaving you with immense satisfaction when you finally grasp victory.
A specific launch date is still to be announced, but Serellan has confirmed that Takedown will hit Xbox Live Arcade and Steam this September for $15. If this sounds like the type of game you'd enjoy, or if you want a change of pace in your shooters, definitely be sure to watch out for it.
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