I sometimes find it difficult to keep my mind occupied during the day outside of my necessary routine of job searching and housekeeping. As a result of my limited funds, (I am a resent college grad with a lot of loans to pay back, after all) I can’t indulge in many luxuries.
To that end, speaking as a gamer, the free-to-play market becomes all the more valuable to my mental health to ensure regular challenging stimulation. You can thank the crew at Rooster Teeth for introducing me to a new F2P game on Steam; Loadout.
Normally this wouldn’t be the sort of game I would look into, but as we’ve established, I’m in no position to be choosy. So I figured that, since it has been years since I did a proper review of a game (my first was a well crafted, fan-made Mega Man game that used the Zandronum engine), I’d like to give everyone my take on it. So let’s break it down.
The Basic Summary
This is one of the most simply constructed games I can recall in recent memory. There is no plot or story – at least not one that is easily seen. There is a lot of ado about a material called Blutonium and fighting over it, but it rarely comes up in gameplay.
It’s basically the barest bones of the modern day First-Person Shooter (though in Loadout, the camera is placed over the shoulder) which plays to its F2P nature; it has few frills and doesn’t get hung up on details.
There are two key focus points the game wants to bring to your attention. The first is the cartoonish levels of violence and gore. As you play, you will find you, your teammates, and your opponents having your limbs whittled to the bone, your heads reduced to not but a brain and eyes, and holes the size of ten-pound rutabagas punched in your stomach – none of which seems to impede your characters ability to fight.
The second focus is the game’s namesake; the loadout mechanic. Players earn both experience points and in-game currency called Blutes to purchase various parts for your weapons allowing you to make the perfect tool for you (my personal favorite combination is the triple barrel rocket launcher with sidewinder missiles carrying an incendiary flak payload).
The Good News
Normally, I would be put off by the gore of a game like this. In this case, however, I can’t take a game this over the top seriously. VentureBeat got it right when they likened Loadout to “… a Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Quentin Tarantino.”
Also, the weapon crafting mechanic is a lot of fun. Part of the challenge and entertainment value of the game is testing out different combinations of parts to get the desired effects. It ensures that you keep playing to find that perfect set-up.
The characters, despite never speaking and having no guiding story to define them, have loads of personality. They all boast an over designed style reminiscent of the toys marketed to young boys in the 90’s (Mad Balls come to mind) that play to the anarchic sense of humor the game has.
The Bad News
As I played through Loadout, there was a niggling voice in the back of my mind that I had played this game before and it had nothing to do with how annoyingly pervasive the Shooter genre of games is. Suddenly it donned on me; this was Gotham City Imposters.
Other than the modified weapon system, the game was borrowing mechanics and sensibilities from Gotham City Imposters which itself felt like a half-hearted attempt to make the multiplayer from any Call of Duty game made in the last seven years more light and fun but was bogged down by it’s repetitive nature and technical limitations.
Loadout, in turn, suffers from similar problems. There are only four game modes playable across six maps, so the game gets tiresome after a while. They will most likely add to it in the future, but unfortunately, they must be judged for what they are now.
Also, where all of the attention was placed on the weapon customization, little was given to the character customization. There are only three character bases to build from – a white male, a black male, and a white female – and almost all of their wardrobe (read: anything that is not default for the character base) must be bought with real cash. Even Gotham City Imposters gave you the option of using in-game currency to buy clothes and only made you pay for exclusive content.
The Final Verdict
On one hand, Loadout is a generic Shooter in an age of generic Shooters (that, thankfully, seems to be slowing down). On the other, however, it’s probably one of the better generic Shooters to be released recently.
You can certainly do far worse than Loadout and spend more money in the process, but nothing stands out and tells me that this will be the game to knock Team Fortress 2 off of its El Dorado-esque plies of gold and loot and redefine the free-to-play market.
To sum up in a simple analogy, Loadout is to the Shooter genre as ClayFighter was to the Fighting genre; the very best of the boilerplate in its field. Give it a try, but don’t expect too much for nothing.