Takedown: Red Sabre Review: Taken Down
Christian Allen is a man who knows video games. He was the Lead Designer for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2 and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. He was the Creative Director for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. The tactical FPS genre is something he should know. This is something that’s evidently clear in Takedown: Red Sabre. Which makes the game just that much more disappointing.
Takedown: Red Sabre is the first (and currently only) game developed by Serellan LLC. The game’s Kickstarter campaign had notable backers, including former Infinity Ward Community Manager Robert Bowling. All the pieces are there for both excitement from the community and a high-quality project from the developer. But look back to where I mentioned that Takedown is the first game Serellan LLC has put out. This is a fact that is incredibly, and unfortunately, clear.
First thing's first, though: This is not your typical FPS. You’re not going to run, gun, slide, and no-scope your way to victory. This isn’t about getting the most kills, earning streaks, and pwning noobs. This is Counter-Strike on crack. This is about tactics, about caution, and about survival.
“Fast is slow. Slow is fast,” the game says. Those words ring true. When a game has options for walking, jogging, and sprinting, there’s a reason for that: You don’t necessarily want to be noticed by your enemies. This builds tension. “Tango spotted” puts you on your toes, looking around every corner for the elusive enemy. Then you finally see him. You jump, nervous that being in the wrong place will result in death. You immediately move to cover as you fire, desperately hoping a bullet takes out the enemy. Silence fills the air for five seconds. Ten seconds. Fifteen. Maybe he’s down; you peek around the corner and breathe a sigh of relief as you see him lying on the ground.
Moments like these fill the “campaign” of Takedown: Red Sabre. There’s no story to be told, no overarching narrative, no twist-filled plot. You are a member of a squad who carries out objectives. Sometimes you need to disarm bombs. Other times it’s about rescuing hostages. Just make sure you know what these objectives are; there’s no tracker on the game’s HUD, nor is there a map. Hey, don’t complain; there’s no map in real life, either. This is a game that won’t hold your hand. It’s better for it, truth be told.
But, as I’ve alluded to throughout this review, there are problems with the game. The options menu is incredibly lacking, hip-firing is extremely frustrating to the point where the crosshairs never matchup with the location of bullets, the training exercise is a complete joke, and the fact that Serellan LLC lacks the luxuries of a big name developer are quite obvious. A decently sized Q/A department would have done wonders for the game. The AI undermines the tactical nature of the game; they don’t see my flashlights, they ignore sounds on other levels, and, unless I make it apparent that I’m nearby, they ignore me. All that enjoyment from the tension I mentioned before? Gone.
I really, really wanted to like Takedown: Red Sabre. But things went wrong. Maybe they needed more money, maybe they needed a bigger development team, or maybe they ran out of time. Either way, I really hope the game’s issues can be fixed. Otherwise, there's so much potential being squandered.