This morning, I had a chance to sit down with developers from two new titles being published by Paradox. The Showdown Effect, a 2.5D deathmatch-style shooter, represents an attempt to recapture the gung-ho ridiculousness of 80′s and 90′s action movies, while War of the Roses is a realistic medieval combat simulator meant to bring the conflict between the Lancasters and Yorks to new life.
The two titles couldn’t be more disparate, but they both show off an impressive amount of creativity in their approaches to multiplayer combat. Hit the break to check out my impressions.
Arrowhead and Pixeldiet’s The Showdown Effect puts you in a gritty, highly stylized urban setting. The game is controlled like a side scroller, using WASD to traverse through a series of building interiors and the surrounding locations, while using the mouse to aim and fire. The concept here is simple: hunt down rival players and engage them in a cinematic showdown.
To this end, you’re offered a number of mobility options to really sell the over-the-top action feel. The space bar can be used to jump, and can be pressed in conjunction with movement keys to activate a number of acrobatic moves. Double tapping will let you dash, and leaping up against walls will let you wall-jump Super Metroid-style.
Combat is quick and brutal. You’ll have a set of weapons at your disposal, and they run the gamut of options like pistols, SMGs, and rocket launchers (my personal favorite). What makes combat so much fun is how the terrain and the ability to move and dodge quickly keep the action fast paced, and the environment is littered with interactive objects such as doors and elevators. What’s more, the game limits your view “fog of war” style, making surprise ambushes and intense cat-and-mouse sequences all the more likely.
The real fun of The Showdown Effect is in its attention to detail. The art style is smooth and stylish, featuring great character animations and the sort of dark tone you’d expect from a testosterone-fueled action flick. Game artist Therese Jansson explained that they have many features in store to enhance the action movie aesthetic, including a system where you’ll be able to manually deliver pointed one-liners at appropriate moments for bonus points.
The Showdown Effect is looking like a solid, fun to play multiplayer game. Look for it for PC and Mac in either late 2012 or early 2013.
Taking an enormous turn towards simulation, the other Paradox published title on display was Fatshark’s War of the Roses. Focusing on the brutal 15th century conflict over English succession, the game is a multiplayer-focused experience that aims to provide a realistic take on medieval conflict.
Those familiar with the Mount & Blade series will immediately take to War of the Roses melee combat. Gently gesturing in a direction as you click will ready a slash with your weapon in that direction, while swiping downward will allow you to thrust forward. Where War of the Roses gets interesting is in its physics system, where your weapon will react realistically with the environment around it. Sending out a horizontal slash with a tree in the way, for instance, will stop your weapon dead in its tracks, while weapons and armor can interfere with a swing and kill your momentum. This makes choosing between slashes, thrusts, and overhead strikes an important tactical decision.
Armor in War of the Roses also reacts in a realistic fashion, rather than simply providing you a static defense bonus. Different equipment has different exposed parts, and savvy fighters will learn to exploit the chinks in their opponents’ armor… literally. The attention to detail on equipment is really impressive – even fired arrows react appropriately to armor, bouncing harmlessly off plated components and lodging themselves in more exposed areas.
War of the Roses uses a very minimalistic HUD in order to preserve the simulation experience, with not even so much as a health bar in sight. One small concession the developers have made is small bits of coloring added to gear such as wristbands and leggings in order to better differentiate teams. It’s a subtle effect that manages to convey alliances to the player without sacrificing much in the way of realism.
The focus of War of the Roses will be on multiplayer, but the game will also feature a single-player campaign. This will be a story-driven linear affair, taking the player through the conflict itself as it teaches the game’s mechanics.
Medieval combat fans should definitely keep and eye on War of the Roses. The title is slated for launch in the third quarter of this year.