I’ve probably had some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a video game with Takedown: Red Sabre. Unfortunately, that fun did not come in the way that the developers had wanted me to. Takedown: Red Sabre, as of the writing of this review, is broken and practically unplayable.
The good things about this game are few. It is only $15 USD/Euros and the game is only 2 GB small, so the price of the game to your wallet and hard drive space is minimal. The game is definitely very “hardcore” with barely any HUD information in game. I’m personally surprised they even let us see our bullet count.
But by far, the greatest thing about the game is in fact the in-game chat function whereby pretty much everything you type is spoken by Microsoft Sam, as if Stephen Hawking was there narrating everything. Few things are funnier than hearing that voice cursing, describing obscene images and going “huehuehuehuehue.”
So that’s pretty much all the good stuff you will find about Takedown: Red Sabre. To get an idea of how botched the release of this game was, it’s pretty much been a week since release and they have only just released a patch to make the game playable. Seriously. In a game where co-op multiplayer was going to be a major facet of gameplay, there were massive connectivity issues, which they only kind of solved after a week. I probably attempted to join about 50 different game lobbies and was only successful in eventually playing the actual game about 4 times.
In my limited multiplayer experiences, which included co-op missions as well as head-to-head battles, you will find the difficulty is extremely high. The inability to communicate with your teammates other than the use of the time consuming text-to-talk function makes being tactical somewhat difficult. Very quickly, you will find that you will all either stick together and slowly crawl through corridors together or have everyone just running around and trying to gun down enemies before they get themselves gunned downed (usually by friendly fire).
I understand the game is supposed to be “hardcore” and you want as realistic an experience as you can get, but some of the design is just mind-bogglingly thickheaded. For example, if you want to check what your objectives are, in any other shooter, you can just hit the tab key. Apparently, that’s no good for Takedown, that would be unrealistic. Instead, you have to hit escape where it takes you to the menu and there are all your objectives listed. Does it really change the feel of the game that much to not have the tab key do what you clearly give us with the escape key anyway?
The most important thing for this game right now is to actually get itself fixed.
Speaking of the escape key, other than looking at what your objectives are (which you will have to do all the time if you are playing co-op missions since you don’t get a briefing of any kind in multiplayer, unlike in the singleplayer) the only other thing you can do is quit the game. You can’t rebind keys in-game. That’s right, if you want to re-bind keys, you will have to quite the game you’re in, go back to the main menu, go to the options and then the controls. That is beyond annoying.
Buttons on the main menu and its subsequent menus sometimes seem like they don’t do anything. Who would have thought that the “modify” button in your loadouts page was actually the “save loadout” button? It is far from intuitive. Sometimes buttons just plain don’t work. Sometimes, a button doesn’t even exist. For example, there is no “join lobby/game” button on the multiplayer menu.
Add the fact that the options themselves are also bare-boned and frustration levels will go through the roof. Whilst Total War Rome 2 had a large bevy of adjustable settings for only the graphics settings in the game, the number of adjustable settings that Takedown: Red Sabre has is laughable. If you added every single adjustable slider or drop down menu that is located in the Takedown options, you wouldn’t even have as many as Total War Rome 2 did for audio.
But maybe you don’t care about how many option choices you have for your game. Maybe it’s all about the gameplay for you, as it should be. To call Takedown: Red Sabre a “tactical” shooter would then equate games like Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and the first Call of Duty as tactical shooters.
In my mind, tactical shooters require a few elements to distinguish themselves from other ordinary shooters. The ability to order around AI (or human) squadmates is essential. In Takedown, that ability doesn’t exist in multiplayer and in singleplayer your orders range from, “shoot” and “don’t shoot.” Not exactly General Patton caliber stuff there. Tactical shooters should also allow the planning of missions with maps and the like that we’ve seen in games like Rogue Spear or SWAT 4, which is completely lacking in Takedown: Red Sabre.
Once you are in-game, it isn’t much better. There are very few situations where using a breaching charge is useful, the effectiveness of grenades and flashbangs are questionable, so in the end, it all comes down to you and your gun. Leaning is next to pointless as you practically get nothing new in view as the camera literally just tilts. It really becomes a question of who can react and be more accurate quicker, you or the AI? 9 times out of 10, it’s the AI who is going to react faster and be more accurate. That’s right, in this game, you will die a lot.
The good things about this game are few.
This it isn’t to say that the AI is smart by any means. The enemy AI only seem to react to proximity and direct vision. If you were behind them, at some distance, and shooting all your bullets at them, unless they turn around, the AI literally wouldn’t give a flying sausage nor even appear to notice all he bullets whizzing by him. However, when they do know where you are, may god help you. Regardless of the caliber of their weapon, be it a pistol or a rifle, they will always manage to headshot you from distances that you didn’t think were possible. Be they at the top of a platform on an oil derrick or across the courtyard of a large office building, their accuracy is beyond ridiculous.
It also doesn’t help that you don’t know what the things you are looking for look like. One particular level of the game requires you to break (so shoot) some external hard drives, but having been given no pictures of what these objects may look like, you are stuck wandering the empty halls of a large office building, (assuming you somehow managed to clear the whole level of enemies), shooting every single object you think could potentially be what you are looking for, not that ammunition is a problem for it doesn’t seem like your clip count goes down when you reload your gun, but that could very well be an isolated bug for me.
Normally, at this point, I would list off the things I would have liked to see in the game that would make it much more enjoyable, at least for me. With Takedown: Red Sabre, I don’t even know where to start. I’m fine that there are no scoreboards showing kills and deaths. I don’t mind that there are no aiming reticules for guns at hip level or grenades. I don’t even overly mind that the game isn’t particularly pretty. However, I just can’t stand a game that is broken, especially at release.
Lot’s of people complained (including me) that Total War Rome 2 played released and played like an open beta. Takedown: Red Sabre feels like it is still in alpha. There are only a grand total of 6 levels and the idea of replayability because “AI spawn in different places every time” seems pretty bogus to me. They are always in the same place, give or take a few feet. So really, the most important thing for this game right now is to actually get itself fixed, you know so that people don’t get “lose connection to host” when playing a singleplayer game. Also, more levels, but it appears they plan to let the community work on that.
Oh, and also in their patch, they got rid of the text to talk function because “apparently” people were abusing it. I didn’t see instances of that happening, but now having gotten rid of the best part of the game, I’m not sure what else is really left that makes Takedown worthwhile playing at this point in time.
Oh, there is one more good thing, the voicework isn’t bad.
This game is broken. There is no other way around it. Fun can be had in it, but not in the way that you had fun in Rogue Spear and the earlier Ghost Recons. The game is bare bones and feels incomplete. Singleplayer is barely worth playing and multiplayer isn’t that much better. The thing is, I’m not even sure that if all the problems are fixed and everything gets tweaked, whether this game would even be better than SWAT4, a game that came out in 2005. Ignoring all the games that Takedown: Red Sabre has maneuvered itself to be a “throwback” of and solely evaluating the game on its own merits, it would be an average game at best and a horrendous game at worst. Perhaps in a few months, the story will be different, but right now, you’d probably do yourself a favor if you stayed away.
Takedown: Red Sabre
- Available On: PC
- Published By: Serellan
- Developed By: Serellan
- Genre: Shooter
- US Release Date: September 20th, 2013
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "This game is broken. There is no other way around it. Fun can be had in it, but not in the way that you had fun in Rogue Spear and the earlier Ghost Recons."