For those who may be unfamiliar, Christian Allen is someone who I consider to be the pioneer of tactical military shooters. He is well known for having taken part in the design in some of the best tactical shooters this decade, such as Rainbow Six: Athena Sword and was the lead designer for Ghost Recon 2 and the Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter series. All these games hold a special place in my heart. When I was given the assignment for Takedown: Red Sabre I’d not heard of it before, so I did some advance research on the title. When I saw who was designing it, I was stoked. Needless to say though, my excitement soon turned to massive disappointment.
A launch title for a new company called Serellan LCC, Takedown: Red Sabre is designed with the intention of being a spiritual successor to the Rainbow Six series. Christian Allen hyped it up via some really neat concept trailers and managed to rake up $220,000 on Kickstarter to get it off the ground. The idea was simple: you are a member of an anti-terrorist tactical team and you must enter buildings, disarm bombs and/or rescue hostages. Gamers were promised the same detailed tactical planning that was featured in the Rainbow Six series as well; however this is not what we were given.
What Takedown: Red Sabre is, is a tactical shooter that could have found success in the last console generation….. maybe. Moving through the menus and the tutorial seemed promising enough; however once I moved into the actual story is when the problems started. There isn’t much to the story, just handle the objectives and get to the extraction. Getting those objectives though, is both frustrating and time consuming, the latter not being the good kind.
Movement speed of your character is very slow and I found myself pressing very VERY hard on the forward motion keys of my PC in hopes of walking more quickly. In a tactical situation, a sense of urgency is very important. With my character in Takedown, I found myself walking slower than I’d walk to breakfast in the morning. Running wasn’t much better. Sprinting in game does two very bad things. The first thing is that you run about as fast as you would if you were heading for your local elections. The second thing is it makes an insane amount of noise which attracts everything with a gun to your location. And on that subject it would appear that the AI is psychic. My first attempt at the first level had me walk ten feet and die from a headshot from an enemy a floor below me, who at that moment had apparently decided that an MP5 was a sniper and the skylight was really interesting. Did I mention that you can die in one or two shots?
The Weapons in the game are very well designed. Weapons have great sound and a good feel when you fire them. The M16 handled very well in particular with appropriate kickback. Silenced weapons are realistic too and make the appropriate muffled *BANG* instead of the cliched and wrong sounding *pew pew* that most people think they sound like. This is all when the weapons are in MY hands though. The weapons when in enemy hands are all snipers, regardless of type, ammo, or optics.
While on the subject of AI, let’s move on to my biggest complaint with Takedown: Red Sabre. The enemy AI is psychic as I’ve mentioned before, as they know where you are as soon as you make the smallest sound, and will not hesitate to shoot at you non-stop without the need to reload. Yet while they are firing their weapons full tilt, apparently their buddies a few rooms away have no issue with the load repetitive BANG BANG!! They just wait around like nothing is happening. Open a door near them though and suddenly they know exactly where you are, even if they are around the corner, squatting in an office, staring at a wall.
Teammate AI is a whole different ballgame. While enemy AI is Mensa smart and can read minds, your teammates are wearing helmets and drooling. While I was crouched and walking slowly into rooms, clearing my corners and making sure to keep out of enemy vision, my AI was either following me around like lost puppies, crowding me in doorways or thundering into a room where enemies immediately shot them dead. To say that the AI needs some serious balancing is a serious understatement. On more than one occasion when I was about to get a bead on some enemies and take them out silently, my teammates would take that opportunity to go loud on some enemies who -by the way- were two rooms away and had a wall or two between them and the bullets. When I did need my teammates to assist me in clearing a room, they simply followed me in, watched me die, looked at the pretty colors of the muzzle flashes and then one or two of them dropped dead themselves before I took over.
In Takedown: Red Sabre, when your character dies you take over the body of one of your 3 squadmates. Seems like a great idea, but once again it leaves me wondering how my team graduated from basic training. More often than not, I’d find myself respawned and looking at a wall or the floor or in another room stuck in a corner. Sometimes I’d even spawn and take a shot in the face. If anything were to make me label Takedown as unplayable, I’d say it was the AI because they are so stupid that I’m left wondering if AI programming was left to the one guy in the office who just wanted to go home and watch Breaking Bad.
Before I end my rant/review I’ll quickly touch on graphics. They’re ok. Clearly no one was aiming for the stars when they designed this game. Enemies and Squadmates all look the exact same, buildings are boring and every office I walked into looked exactly like the last one. I actually found myself getting lost a lot because there were no distinguishing landmarks in the buildings I was clearing. It just looks bland, and I am running the graphics at max resolution and the highest settings.
My final thoughts on Takedown: Red Sabre is this; If I were someone who’d contributed to the kickstarter campaign, I’d want my money back. This is a disappointing title from an amazing game designer in what I consider to be a failed launch title for his new company. I don’t recommend buying it at full retail price and if you do decide to pick it up, I highly recommend that you play it cooperatively with some friends and not the team AI.
Takedown: Red Sabre is available now on Steam, Xbox 360 and PS3
Reviewed on PC. Review copy supplied by Serellan LLC. Thank you!!
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – 1/10
Gameplay/Design – 3/10
Visuals – 5/10
Sound – 8/10
Lasting Appeal – 2/10
Overall – 3/10
(Not an average)
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3
Developer: Serellan LCC
Publisher: 505 Games