Takedown: Red Sabre is looking to break the shooter mold in more ways than one.
At E3 2013, I got the chance to chat with James Mayo, Senior Producer, and Christian Allen, the founder of Serellan about their upcoming tactical shooter, Takedown: Red Sabre. Funded last minute through Kickstarter in April 2012, the team behind the game was looking to make a core game for a core audience, eschewing the mass appeal of games like Call of Duty for a more realistic approach to combat. Having met their Kickstarter goal in a late push, Allen assembled the team and began the push to Alpha. Having refined the experience, utilizing the community of Kickstarter backers for feedback, Serellan is looking for a Fall release on XBLA and Steam.
The demo was perfectly playable, so we are definitely looking good for the launch window, and the game itself, while a little flat texture-wise, is still largely more visually impressive than the gray and brown you'll see in most shooters. To further distance themselves from the blockbuster run and guns that we all know and love, the team at Serellan has opted to use modern architecture, instead of run down third world villages. When your mission is on a cargo ship, it's not an aging bucket of rusty metal, but a modern ship with polished surfaces. This by itself makes the game more visually compelling than many modern shooters, although the textures in the demo did lack some of the depth that you'll see in AAA titles.
The game is as brutal and unforgiving as a realistic shooter ought to be. If you survive a hit, your health won't regen. If you die, you stay dead through the rest of the mission, following a teammate in spectator mode. This is the case in every game mode, be it Tango Hunt, where you're hunting down enemy combatants, or Tac Defend, where you're defending a point or object. There are currently a number of game modes, but the team is planning to distill them down to just a handful for release to ensure that every game mode is as perfectly balanced as possible.
The game is mission based, rather than story based, so the focus of the game is squarely on gameplay and tactics, rather than characters or plot. There are no item unlocks, since you're playing as a team of elite soldiers, you have an arsenal at the ready, and you just choose what you want for the mission at hand. You'll need to be careful what loadout you choose, however, as a wide open map will likely want a long-range rifle, rather than a less-accurate SMG. Likewise, if you're going to be doing close quarters in your mission, you'll probably want to avoid a long-barreled rifle, since there is barrel collision in the game, meaning that your gun is forced down when if you're too close to a wall, making it difficult to peek around corners and fire unless you're using a short-barreled weapon. Each mission will also have multiple insertion points, offering a lot of replay value, since you'll assuredly need to take a different tact for each insertion point, making it an entirely new experience.
Teams are made up of six players, and the game is designed with multiplayer in mind. There is a single player option, but the coordination with your team is so crucial to success, that you'll almost certainly want to be playing with a reliable group. You're going to be playing a slower, more methodical shooter than you might be used to, so collaboration and caution are key. Again, there is no regen or respawn, so you can't just run around guns blazing. You'll want to check every corner and clear every room before you try to proceed. PVP is, of course, a big part of the game as well, offering 6v6 matches, where each team is on one side of the mission at hand.
Takedown: Red Sabre seems to be doing something new with a heavily overused genre, but the tactical, slow-paced nature of the game will ensure that its appeal is limited to those looking for a realistic shooter. I certainly know a few CoD players who would thrive in this game, but I know many more, myself included, that would flounder in such a high intensity environment. One thing I will say, though, given the audience this style of shooter will likely appeal to, the people you're likely to be playing against in Takedown will almost certainly be top notch, so bring your A game, lest you find yourself constantly in spectator mode this Fall.