EXCLUSIVE HANDS-ON GAME PREVIEW: Rekoil

At a recent press event in Los Angeles, 505 Games showed off Rekoil, an online-only, modern military first-person shooter for PCs and Xbox 360s that seems squarely aimed (no pun intended) at serious fans of the genre. But what makes it interesting is not what they’ve put into it, but what they’ve taken out.

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For starters, Rekoil — which is being made by Plastic Piranha — has none of the leveling up, and thus none of the associated unlockables, that are de rigueur in some many shooters these days. Instead, all forty of the game’s weapons are available from the beginning, as are the five different classes.

In fact, those classes — Assault Recon, Shotgunner, Heavy Gunner, Sniper, and Rocketeer — aren’t different kinds of soldiers you can play as, but are instead just a way to organize the weapons. Which is why the Shotgunner has a variety of shotguns to pick from, the Sniper has different sniper rifles, and so on, but all of them have the same kinds of pistols to pick as secondary weapons.

This is not to say that all classes are created equal. While the controls were smooth and responsive, regardless of which class I picked — we were playing on PC, and with keyboards, though Xbox controllers will be supported when the time comes — the only real difference I noticed is that your gun preference also determines your foot speed. While the Rocketeer’s and Heavy Gunner’s weapons slowed me down considerably, both Snipers and Assault Recons let me move at a good clip, and the Shotgunner seemed somewhere in between. But, otherwise, all of these classes are the same; this has none of the ability-augmenting or skill-adding perks that are commonplace in modern shooters.

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In addition, the developers have also removed your soldier’s ability to automatically reload his weapon when he empties his gun into some poor soul. Instead, he has to manually reload, which I learned the hard way when, playing as a Rocketeer, I shot an RPG across the battlefield…and then my guy just stood there, doing nothing, no matter how many times I pulled the trigger.

Heck, the game doesn’t even have exploding red barrels (I’ve heard the black ones can be a bit unstable, but I assume they meant “emotionally”).

The irony of these omissions is that Rekoil was largely inspired by the same series that introduced the things this game is omitting: Call Of Duty. Specifically, by a mod for 2007’s Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that also removed that game’s leveling system, use of perks, and so on, as well as how the multiplayer modes in 2005’s Call Of Duty 2 gave you access to all of that game’s guns right away.

Rekoil also pulls from another old shooter when it comes to its game types. Besides the usual modes — “Deathmatch,” “Team Deathmatch, ” “Domination,” and variations on “Capture The Briefcase” (a.k.a. “Capture The Flag”) — this has a mode that harkens back to a Half-Life mod called The Hidden. Dubbed “Recondite,” this mode picks a player to be “it,” and gives them a knife, some grenades, and a cloaking device that was clearly stolen from a Predator, since it makes you invisible when you stand still, but shows you as a distorted, see-through silhouette when you move. It also causes anyone who comes near you to have their vision slightly distorted as well. Which is handy since their objective is to kill you so they can be “it.”

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It should come as no surprise, then, given all that has inspired Rekoil, that the game will be mod-friendly. In fact, the PC will ship with modding tools so you’ll be able to create your own maps and alter various other aspects of the game when it comes out.

Which, the developer told me as he shot me in the head for the umpteenth time, should be the first or second week of November, when the game is released on Steam and other PC places as well as on XBLA.

 

To see a video interview with Jason Brice, the President & CEO of Rekoil developers Plastic Piranha, visit RPad.TV.

You can also see a second interview with Brice there in which he explains why being able to mod Rekoil was a priority for him.

 

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