Takedown: Red Sabre could very well be the worst tactical shooter I’ve ever seen. It is, quite simply, a pure, unintelligible mess; broken, boring and just plain bad. I struggled to find even one redeeming aspect in the whole experience and the deeper I went, the worse it got. It’s rotten right to the core. And do you know what stings the most? The fact that 5,500 people put over $200,000 of their own money behind this to get it off the ground, and this is what developers Serellan came up with. I honestly feel sorry for those who backed this game, duped by promises of a “spiritual successor to Rainbow Six and SWAT4″. The only link between those games and this one are the laughable comparisons you’ll be making from the moment you boot up Takedown.
Problems begin with the single player “campaign”. There are 2 training ops, and a paltry 6 missions. The training levels are nothing more than shooting ranges, with no objectives or tasks; you just pick a weapon and see how it handles. It’s unguided and pointless. The actual objective-based missions involve accomplishing goals with your 4-man squad such as disarming bombs, neutralizing individuals or destroying specific items. Each level has a choice of two insertion points along with an adjustable weapon loadout – which is where the “tactical” element begins and ends. No map overview, no picking squad members, planning routes, advanced intel or anything even the most basic infiltration missions would require. You just head on in with your 4 boyfriends and fumble around as you try to find your targets.
I say “boyfriends” because these guys sure like to be close to you. Really close. They seem to be attached to a one inch invisible rope emanating from your nether regions, and man do they love to tow that line. If you take a wrong turn or run out from cover recklessly, these guys will follow unconditionally, forming a kind of suicidal conga line. That description is more than accurate because, if you fall, you’re automatically switched to the next squad member. And where is he? Standing over your fresh corpse, staring gormlessly down the barrel of the guy who just killed you.
But said bad guy isn’t much smarter than your devoted followers. The enemy AI is just as bad, running into walls, getting stuck in objects, and at times standing around completely oblivious to your presence. Or to explosions. Or to the dead bodies of their friends strewn across the floor. The only real threat they present is if they spot you without you seeing them. When faced head on, it’s only a matter of being first to the trigger, and that’s not really that hard.
Speaking of triggers, the weapon compliment is surprisingly large and thorough, considering the calibre of the rest of the game. There are plenty of real-life guns, attachments and equipment to chose from, most of which can be customised to suit your needs. The gun models themselves are quite nice and visually realistic but I accidentally no-scoped an enemy from 30 yards with a sniper rifle, so perhaps it’s a purely aesthetic thing.
Which is odd, because the rest of the game is as ugly as sin. It’s all bland textures and lifeless environments devoid of any form of atmosphere. Coupled with the incredibly sparse audio elements, consisting of just footsteps and gunshots, it’s a very boring place to be. One mission takes place aboard a tanker, and there isn’t even the sound of waves in the background. Every level just feels like it’s frozen in space and time. I thought maybe the game had auto-configured to a low setting, so into the display settings I went and was presented with only resolution, v-sync and fullscreen options. That’s it. You’re really not doing yourself any favours here, Takedown.
Now I’m a reasonable guy. I can understand that a game like this doesn’t need to have a robust single-player, nor does it need cutting edge graphics. It’s attempting to position itself alongside Counter-Strike, aiming for the multiplayer market. But they didn’t even do this right. The online system is just as buggy as the single-player, performing such feats as incorrectly showing server populations and suffering persistent connection issues. Even if you manage to get into a game, it’s laggy, confusing and generally pretty boring. The game modes are nothing special: featuring missions that require you to attack or defend points of importance or defuse bombs, alongside the standard deathmatch modes. All the negative elements of the single-player are present and accounted for online too, and there are even a few extra thrown in for good measure. Red Sabre also has the bizarre option of converting text chat to voice using tech that must be from pre-2005.
VERDICT: Takedown: Red Sabre feels embarrassingly unfinished, as though it accidentally stumbled out of the changing rooms half-naked while it was trying on its fancy but ill-fitting new SWAT gear. It’s just another example of the “alpha releases” that have been plaguing Steam more and more lately; developers churning out raw, unpolished and barely playable games while later scrambling to patch them before word spreads. The fact that a KickStarter campaign launched the title makes it all the more deplorable. Clunky UI, appalling gameplay, broken and buggy mechanics mean Takedown: Red Sabre should be avoided at all cost. Don’t think of this as a review, think of it more as a public service announcement.
TERRIBLE. A step up from “diabolical”, but a minor one. A 2/10 will have at best one or two positive features that, alongside its catalogue of disappointments, just aren’t enough to render it playable.