I haven’t played a top-down shooter in quite some time, so I decided to check out Tuque Games’ Livelock at PAX East to see the company's take on the genre. Set 150 years in the future, you take control of a large robot on Earth and take out other mechanized enemies in the seemingly abandoned planet. If that wasn’t enough, you can invite two other friends to play with you to create a powerful trio that destroys everything in its path.
In Livelock, humanity is near extinction as a recent gamma ray burst from the Sun is on its way, and humans have about 10 years left on the planet. However, scientists made a breakthrough in their research that would allow people to upload their consciousness into a machine. With this ability, you can control these robots and put a stop to the war between machines.
But first, you’ll need to pick from the three robots. Each one has its own set of weapons, abilities (called “Functions” in the game) and class. Hex is more focused on picking targets with the Anti-Material Rifle, and it can call down a powerful orbital strike to disintegrate enemies. Catalyst can whittle enemies down with its Forge laser gun, but it can also summon a drone gun to assist in the fight. Protecting both of these units is the gigantic Vanguard with its Reflection Array shield. However, it can also take on enemies at close range with its Anvil.
As you use each robot, you’ll be able to upgrade its weapons and Functions. With each new function, you can also choose a sub-Function to go with it. For example, you might have a special attack that takes out a certain number of enemies. However, you can add a sub-Function that also deploys a signal jam to disrupt communications between enemy robots. This allows you to give a secondary class to your character, furthering its specialty on the battlefield.
Speaking of the battlefield, the game’s campaign, called “Open Protocol,” is spread out over three acts. You’ll travel around the world and fight battles in areas such as the desert, the arctic and the ruins of an abandoned city. Each level is randomly generated, so you’ll see different decorations, enemies and bosses in each session. Each robot also has a different consciousness that’s controlling it, so you’ll find out more about your compatriots as you progress through the campaign. Overall, the single-player experience should take between four and six hours. That’s not exactly lengthy, but you could always challenge yourself by playing it again on a higher difficulty (the game features three levels of difficulty).
If you want to play with online friends, you can try out Survival Mode. As the name suggests, you and your friends must try to take out as many enemies as possible before they overwhelm the group. Leaderboards are also included, so you can see how you rank against other players around the world.
War Of The Machines
Gameplay controls are simple: You use the left analog stick to move around while also using the right analog to aim. You can use the right trigger button to fire and other buttons to switch weapons and activate certain functions.
The demo was exciting, to say the least. When there were large swarms of enemies, two other players I (playing as Hex) immediately fired a salvo of lasers and bullets. The light show that emanated from all of our weapons, as well as the enemy guns, was spectacular. It was like a fireworks display. At times it was difficult to tell where I was shooting, but somehow I managed to stay alive and take out a few robots. Calling down an orbital strike on a group of enemies is so satisfying as you see their mechanical bodies fly through the air after the initial shockwave.
Just like in Mirage: Arcane Warfare, teamwork is essential to success. Vanguard can block most attacks, but the other two characters can still get shot from other angles. This is where Catalyst can create a small healing field to restore some health while Hex picks off targets from a long distance. One portion of the demo had us fighting in a small area, and because we stayed together, we were able to wipe out anything that came within 10 feet of our location. As we walked into the next room, we saw a glimpse of the boss before the screen cut to black and the demo ended.
Simple And Fun
Livelock is one of those games that doesn’t require you to learn too much about it in order to use the full potential of your character. Sure, you might want to figure out the best Functions and weapons in various scenarios, but overall, it’s just a matter of pointing at a certain location and shooting any enemy in sight.
That isn’t to say that the game is a walk in a park. There were a few times when I died because I thought I could take out a small group on my own. Even though you can go through the entire game solo, it’s best if it’s played with other people. You can decide on tactics and combine Functions to create powerful attacks. Also, Livelock just seems more fun when there are other people involved. Tuque Games plans to release Livelock at some point this year on the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.