PAX East 2012: Hands-On - The Showdown Effect

During our visit with Paradox Interactive, we had a chance to check out their upcoming 2.5D action game that pits up to 8 players at once in free-for-all combat as one of several stereotypical 80′s movie characters. In the demo we got to try out, our characters of choice were the “Man With No Past” and the “Retired Cop” ‘heroes’. We were joined by Therese Jansson from Arrowhead Game Studios, the developers of this game as well as their previous title Magicka. Jansson gave us the rundown of what to expect in Showdown Effect.

The gritty cityscape was the demo stage and featured several floors of action. According to Jansson, Arrowhead was going for a “Smash Bros.” feel to the combat, and it was easy to tell. The action is quick, when it happens, and the fight scenes usually end pretty swiftly especially for rookies like myself. However, the game showed that even a good break can get you the upperhand, as I did manage to score a kill or two against Jansson. She also told us a bit about the future plans for the game as well, but before we get into that, let me share what the current game holds in store.

The controls are pretty easy. Your mouse targets and fires, you can use the up and down keys (default assigned to W and S) to activate elevators, duck and pick up weapons, and that’s all you need. For the sake of the demo, our ammo was unlimited, but Jansson was key to point out that ammo limitations will be in effect for the final game and they will make the various melee weapons scattered around the stages all the more valuable. The game is very fast-paced, though the double-tap sprint mechanic felt a little clunky in practice. All in all, rounds typically end quickly once you’re face to face with an opponent. However, the design of the map does lend to some interesting mechanics.

The “line of sight” element is huge in Showdown Effect. If you’re crouched behind a wall or behind a door, despite the fact that you have the 2D perspective on the scene, you won’t be able to see your opponent unless your character can literally SEE your opponent. The line of sight mechanic is also pretty obvious, indicated by a sort of ‘flashlight’ effect from your character that gets blocked when you lose vision. However, getting through certain obstacles is easy, as most glass surfaces can be simply lept through. Another mechanic that plays in heavily to combat situations is the use of recoil. In Showdown Effect, simply pointing and clicking won’t necessary get the job done. Fire a strong enough sidearm and the gun will recoil backwards, meaning that if you don’t wait to level your next shot, it’s gonna head way off target.

The use of these two elements make Showdown Effect a very unique and fun game, even with the limited characters and weapons we had. But speaking of those limited options, Jansson did assure us that more options will be available at launch. She did express a bit of disappointment that some of the stages and concepts she wanted to have at launch wouldn’t be available, but the market for DLC is of course always there. Another element to the game Jansson is hoping to add in the future is improved unarmed situations. In keeping with the “80′s action movie” flavor of the game, they’re looking to add elements such as tackling and even pushing someone out of a window and using them to break your fall on the ground below, or even steal their weapon if you can get close enough. Another callback is the use of special one-liner taunts, where you can accumulate bonus points if you finish off your opponent after delivering a smooth one-liner. Of course, don’t get the job done, and you may lose a bunch of points.

Showdown Effect is looking to be available this year with a beta sometime this Summer. For more, visit paradoxplaza.com or arrowheadgs.com.

About Steve Perry

The owner of GKick Network, co-host of the GKick and Bottom Line Live podcasts, and hero to millions worldwide.