Rekoil Review

By Adam Ma on February 16, 2014

Have you ever wanted to go back in time and experience first-hand what the cutting edge of 90s FPS gaming was all about? To feel the rush of using throwing a clunky grenade with its own near-non-existent explosion animation, or see weapons fire bullets that visually look like incomplete negative space and have sound effects stolen from a VHS copy of Aliens? Well look no further, because Rekoil is everything you could want from a retro throwback FPS experience. Or it would be if Rekoil had been made ironically, instead of intentionally.

Beneath all of its problems Rekoil, at its heart, is a game that wants to deliver arena style deathmatch FPS gameplay without any of the killstreak nonsense that floods other market arcade shooters. The level design across each map generally features buildings that can be moved through, obstacles to hide behind, and even the occasional vantage point that can be exploited. The controls are also standard enough that anyone can pick up and play, save for a few unique differences: cycling through weapons is done with the d-pad and running is handled through clicking down on the analog stick. Otherwise running and gunning is familiar territory for anyone with even a vague knowledge of the genre.

That's a very watered down description of the game, but it's accurate in the sense that nothing really works to stand it out from other titles sitting within the same genre. Without the personality of a single player story, a multiplayer game must rely solely on its good level design and gameplay to deliver a memorable experience, and this is the start of where Rekoil begins to go downhill.

Much of the game is filled with straightforward corridors, alleyways or open courtyards, and what few elements deviate from this equation are vexing at best. Areas like rock formations or broken walls are arranged in ways that suggest players can climb them, but you will find that they can only be accessed if you run at a very specific angle. Otherwise they react as though you've hit an invisible wall "“ sounds great, doesn't it? This means that unless you're running non-stop, it's impossible to tell what's meant to be interacted with or what's simply useless backdrop. This is assuming that the wall you're hanging near or can you're hiding behind is even a real backdrop in the first place, as many objects that appear solid in game can simply be shot through.

Graphics aside, it all feels incomplete, like there was a plan that never quite saw fruition, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Rekoil's audio. Walk through a ravine that's completely dry and you will start to hear the splashing of water as your footsteps go through. Stand too close to a water well and you'll get the same thing. Fire any one of your weapons for a weak plink noise, as opposed to the actually sound of loud gunfire. There are hints everywhere of something not quite right, and the longer you run through an individual match the easier these flaws are to see and more distracting they are to the overall experience.

Players can customize their character by selecting a primary gun, a secondary pistol, a knife and their character model, but almost all of it is inconsequential when it comes down to actual gameplay. Weapons all have enough kick that you're forced to pull down on the analog stick in order to keep a target within your sights, but where in most games the recoil of each gun may be considered to be a bonus catering to a more hardcore audience, Rekoil is trying to be a quick paced arena shooter sitting somewhere between Counter Strike and Timesplitters; it would have been much better to keep the weapon handling clean rather than give players one more oddity to worry about.

This is besides the fact that due to how high bullet damage is, and how almost every weapon has a single fire option (in additional to burst fire), there's no reason to select anything save for an assault rifle or sniper rifle. Player spawns are also predictable and are easily camped, making it difficult to escape coordinated punishment if you're unfortunate enough to get caught in the crossfire. Of course, this all depends on whether or not you're able to launch an actual match or land on a stable server in the first place.

Deep down Rekoil has some wonderful intentions, but there's just not enough substance and too many bugs to count the throwback FPS as an enjoyable game. There are too many strange oddities in level design and imbalances in weapon damage to call the game complete, and even if Rekoil was in beta there would still be a lot of concern for the final product. Instead what you're left with is the shell of a classic FPS filled with uninspired level design, weapons that are too similar, bugs of just about every nature and the subtle feeling that with just a little more focus Rekoil could actually be something if it wanted to.

Final Thoughts

Decent selection of guns.
When you find a match.
Badly placed sound effects makes for some ironic humour.
Recoil is rather excessive.
Level design is pretty bad.
You can shoot through a fair amount of cover.
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