PAX East Hands-On: The Showdown Effect
PAX East 2012 (aka PAX Easter) is in full swing, and Team Hammer has been scampering around the crowded convention center to see what interesting new titles the wide world of gaming has to offer this year. While the event itself is still in an embryonic phase, it continues to grow and is beginning to find its footing. Give it a couple more years (and some much needed support from the bigger publishers in the industry) and it will no doubt be as worthy a fan destination as the original PAX Prime.
Amongst the new games weve had the opportunity to spend some hands-on time with so far is a little gem called The Showdown Effect. Perhaps the first thing to know about The Showdown Effect is that its being developed by Arrowhead Game Studios, the same studio that crafted the clever, offbeat game Magicka. Given the level of inventiveness and creativity in that title, it should give you some idea of what you can expect with Arrowheads newest venture.
If I were to paint you a picture of The Showdown Effect in broad strokes, it would probably go something like this: Take some of the core concepts behind Smash Bros. Brawl, but then throw them in a blender with piles of guns and on much larger maps. The tasty concoction that comes out is a side scrolling shooter that is deceptively simple on the surface, but is full of character, and hints at a depth that Mario will simply never achieve.
Up to 8 players can join a match, starting out with a pair of basic weapons; a pistol and a machine gun. Peppered across multiple levels you can also swap for any new weapon you find laying on the ground at any point. These can include an assortment of other projectile weapons of the shotgun or rocket launcher variety, but there are also plenty of melee weapons to be found as well. For example, in the matches I played I commonly found things like whiskey bottles and pool cues tucked away in random corners of the map.
Another interesting and somewhat major difference from a game like Smash Bros. is that The Showdown Effect will be a PC and Mac game, rather than a console release. While support for a gamepad is in the works, the controls felt perfectly natural using a keyboard and mouse. A few things felt a bit clunky, such as hitting the F key to drop your current weapon followed by the S key to grab a new one from the ground. Likewise, it took us a bit to figure out how to open doors or navigate up or down levels via the elevator, but then again, I ultimately ended up jumping off the roof to descend, or shimmying up the walls to ascend in a much more stylish manner most of the time anyway.
Minor control scheme oddities aside, the gameplay in The Showdown Effect had the one magical ingredient that can make or break this type of game; fun. From the moment I sat down until the end of my demo time I had a total blast playing the game, and have no doubts that it will prove to be another hit for Arrowhead.
Like Magicka, The Showdown Effect will be a digital release through Steam. The team is currently working on new maps, and experimenting with different game types besides the more straight forward death match I was able to play. Server hosting is also in the pipeline so that players will be able to hot join matches without having to have a massive friends list just to hop into a private match, co-op style.
The Showdown Effect doesn't have a release date as of yet, but Arrowhead is currently aiming for late 2012. In the meantime, if youre looking for a fun and highly addictive new sidescroller to while away the hours, do yourself a favor and read up on The Showdown Effect.