Arrowhead Game Studios is at it again. With their newest project, The Showdown Effect, they’re leaving behind the fantasy world of Magicka and setting their sights on a new target: Bruce Willis.
The Showdown Effect is a 2.5D multiplayer shooter which the developer cites as being heavily rooted in action movies. Up to eight players run through a map picking up various weapons to blast each other with, such as uzis, rocket launchers, pistols, shotguns, and brooms. I think I saw a broom in there.
In the few minutes I spent with it, it felt very reminiscent of Soldat, an old 2D multiplayer shooter. Where Soldat focuses on jetpacking around and accurate skill-shots, however, The Showdown Effect is more tactical, with battles occurring in more confined spaces. That’s the impression I got from the one map I played anyway.
The pre-alpha build that was available for play at PAX East this year took place in a building still under construction. There were two stations set up, placing me up against another PAX attendee. We were free to run around the map, picking up weapons, wall-jumping, rolling, and diving. Although I could see the landscape of the floors above and below me, I couldn’t see my opponent until I had a clear line of sight. Once we spotted each other, however, battles seemed to be decided by who shot first.
Keep in mind, that’s probably because I had a limited time to spend with a pre-alpha version of the game. In playing with the controls, I got the impression that it either was a lot deeper than I was seeing or was going to be. Each player can either roll or dive to avoid bullets. Sometimes if I held down after a roll my character would either lay or sit on the ground and continue firing. Wall jumping felt a little glitchy and I had trouble using it effectively.
That being said, I had a great time with The Showdown Effect. Despite it’s apparent flaws, there were moments of craziness where I could really see their vision shining through, such as knocking down my opponent and beating them to death with a broom. Given Arrowhead’s success with Magicka, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. TSE will definitely be a game to keep an eye on when it’s released for PC and Mac in Q4 2012.