Remember when John Kimble from Kindergarten Cop was squaring off against Tang Lung from Way of The Dragon, then John McClane from Die Hard jumped in the room and blew them up with a bazooka? Me neither, but imagine if you were able to re-enact that in a video game. Well now you can thanks to Arrowhead Studios and their latest effort, The Showdown Effect. Take the brawling from Super Smash Brothers, a generic cast of action heroes from 80’s and 90’s movies, add them to a heady concoction of corny catch phrases and deadly weapons; the resultant mix is The Showdown Effect.
With its tongue placed firmly in its cheek, The Showdown Effect parodies the cheesiest action movies of the past twenty years. A selection of clichéd characters is available to choose from – each with a backstory of their own. You will be able to play as the “just a regular guy” Kindergarten teacher who has lost his identity, the Kung-Fu master who has transcended mortality, the retired but highly decorated Delta Force agent, and many more equally unoriginal characters. There is also a small selection of characters to unlock with coins won from battle – more on those later.
The Showdown Effect features four gameplay modes. Showdown is a run-of-the-mill Deathmatch mode. You must try to kill your opponents more times than they kill you. The Player with the highest overall kill difference is the winner. The last player standing takes a bonus pot of coins as a prize. Showdown mode is the default mode for ranked matches. Playing ranked matches allows the player to accrue experience points. Progressive weapon and cosmetic upgrades accompany leveling and provide a reason to continue playing.
Team Elimination pits four against four in battle for team supremacy. There is a surprising amount of strategy to this mode. Sticking close to one another rather than fanning out is the best tactic. Being able to defend your comrades as they heal, and focus firepower on stray enemies is the most effective way to win. Team Elimination is best played with a group of friends and with voice communication.
One Man Army sees a player become a target for all other players. They must do their best to kill as many of their opponents as possible. The role of one man army rotates. The player with the most kills as the One Man Army at the end of the round wins. Though not as fun as the other modes, the expansive stages and 8 player maximum can make it hectic and adrenaline pumping.
In The Expendables, one team become henchmen and the other become expendables. The expendables must survive as long as they can, while the henchmen try to kill them.
Each game mode is set against one of four stages – a fairly small number for a brawler, but quality trumps quantity. Each of the stages is expansive, littered with weapons to pick up, windows to jump through and nooks to hide away in. There are currently two settings for the stages; A Neon-lit city and a medieval castle. Whilst more variety would have been appreciated, most of the time you will be too busy slicing and dicing to care.
It may be a brawler but that doesn’t mean you should mistake The Showdown Effect as being simplistic. There a whole host of manoeuvres to master in order to become top of your game. From sliding, to Samus Aran style wall jumps and dashing, there is depth to the controls. There are a lot of highly skilled players, so it would pay off to practice chaining movements and weapon switches.
The more you play the more coins you will accumulate. Using these coins you can buy new weapons and cosmetic items for your character. Miniguns, pistols, shotguns and more can be unlocked as you level up. Skins for your weapons are also available. Interestingly, modifiers for hosting your own matches are purchasable. Want to host a pistol only round of team extermination? Or how about a round where everyone explodes when they die? If you have the coins, then feel free.
The game has had a DLC store since day one. Fear not however; all items are cosmetic and do not give an unfair advantage. For players who want to add a little bit more individuality to their character, the store is ideal.
Sadly, The Showdown Effect is not without its problems. More than once the game has caused my computer to stall – this has happened to friends also. Disconnection from the server, mid-game is a frequent occurrence. A majority of the games I played were laggy, ranging from slightly noticeable to completely unplayable. A noticeable lack of players made it very difficult to actually play the game. Some of the players I spoke to in the lobby also mentioned that they had noticed this.
The Showdown Effect is not a game that takes itself too seriously. Humour oozes out of it, from the moment you boot it up and hear the annoyingly loud and generic rock riff, to the moment you die and spout a cheesy and unoriginal catchphrase. Somehow though, it all falls a bit flat. It is so generic and unoriginal; after a short time boredom sets in and you will be itching to find a multiplayer game with more depth. Pile on the technical issues and it becomes an even harder sell.
Despite its low price (£7.99), I find it hard to recommend The Showdown Effect. It is tiresome, unoriginal and buggy. With friends to play with, it can be fun for a short time, but the struggle to find an playable online game that has players and isn’t laggy just isn’t worth it when you finally get to play.
*There have been suggestions that Arrowhead Studios would consider adopting dedicated servers, and if so we could revisit this title as it would fix the major issues Ryan experienced. Sadly, everyone in our team who played The Showdown Effect experienced poor performance and laggy connections and his final score reflects this.