Written by Derrick Smith
From the mind of Cliff Bleszinski, the uber talented game creator that brought us the undeniable Gears of War series, comes a new and very affordable dedicated multiplayer-only arena shooter, known simply as Lawbreakers. With a team (Boss Key Production) headed by Cliff Bleszinski and operated by COO Arjan Brusse, former co-founder of Guerrilla Games creating the acclaimed Killzone series, Lawbreakers leaps into this years shooter scene with high-octane, break neck speed gameplay.
Lawbreakers currently offers nine character classes, each with an opposing alter ego of good vs evil. Classes consist of the Vanguard, Enforcer (my personal favorite), Titan, Assassin, Gunslinger, Juggernaut, Battle Medic, Wraith and Harrier, all supported with customization’s for character skins, primary weapon skins and stickers. Including secondary weapon skins and stickers and various Kick Decals for each character.
While some have considered Lawbreakers to be a shooter along the same lines as Blizzards ever popular Overwatch, I beg to differ. Sure, Lawbreakers operates along a unique set of character skill sets, Lawbreakers plays quite original, offering an anti-gravity playing field pitting deadly combatants known as the Law and Breakers against each other in a variety of gameplay modes across a motley of asymmetric maps.
So far there are eight maps, consisting of Granview, Promenade, Mammoth, Station, Reactor, Vertigo, Redfalls and Trench, all with their own unique level designs. Bringing the combatants together game modes are comprised of five slightly altered modes shooters fans should be used to, just with bit of a twist. Overcharge, which is a modified capture-the-flag mode with one flag planted in the middle of the map in the form of a battery. Teams must race to grab the battery and then take it back to their base, where it must be defended until it reaches 100%, and then a further 20 seconds, to earn a point. However, the battery keeps its charge even if it is stolen, so one team could charge the battery to 99% complete, then the enemy could steal it and take the point after successfully defending the battery at 100% charge. The first team to score three points is the winner.
For Turf War there are three capture points spread out between each team’s side and the center of the map. Each team must clear and hold as many points as possible until the maximum score is reached. Once all three points on a map have been locked down, the number of points captured by each team is added to their total, and the capture points reset to neutral control after 10 seconds.
Blitzball, my personal least favorite of all the game modes requires both teams to race to acquire the eponymous Blitzball within the center of the map. Once a character controls the Blitzball, they must run with it to a goal located in the enemy base to score a point. The first team to reach the maximum number of points wins. If the ball-carrier is killed before scoring, the ball is dropped and can be picked up by anyone. If the ball falls off the stage or is not picked up after a length of time, the ball will reset to the center of the stage. If the ball-carrier takes too long to score, then the ball explodes and takes the carrier with it, before resetting in the center of the stage.
For Uplink which is similar to Overcharge, except the battery is replaced with a satellite dish. The upload percentage is not linked to the dish itself, but to the team’s progress in defending the uplink. While Uplink, Turf War and Overcharge are complete blast to play, as well as Blitzball if you have the right team, Occupy has to be my favorite. In Occupy teams are made to protect the randomly generated zones until they are fully occupied and the next zone pops up. Teams never know when or where the next zone will appear until the zones marker is revealed across the map and once you get to the zone you can always expect a brutal engagement, as with all the game modes.
Having played with all the playable characters, Lawbreakers is definitely not for the faint of heart. While all the characters look absolutely awesome with their progressive skin updates, becoming effectively proficient with many of the characters can be challenge. Forget about the ease of play for you noobs who love to camp and get away with lame kills to pad your kill/death ratio, Lawbreakers is not that game. Fast and furious, Lawbreakers is all about mastering your character of choice while working cooperatively with your team if you are seeking to be victorious.
Impressively the level designs compliment each of the unique characters quite well. Gameplay is nicely balanced for the most part, however there are times when characters such as Wraith with his incredible elusiveness, the Gunslinger with his powerful dead-eyed pistols and warped evasive traversal speed can really frustrate you when you are on the dying side of their trigger pull. Yet, when trying to become as efficient with these same characters you then realize just how inspiring it is to master their abilities. Characters are all rather accessible, however to master characters like the always on the move Assassin or the Battle Medic with his or her terrible side arm, getting used to these characters while it take more time with some more than others, is extremely rewarding.
From my experience long term success in Lawbreakers comes by way of mastering your characters skills among a cooperative team of players who are driven to ply together and accomplish the objectives. Unfortunately, for players looking for something different while being solely rewarded with an attractive kill count, at the moment Lawbreakers does not offer a traditional team deathmatch mode.
While we would like Lawbreakers to offer a team deathmatch mode, as well as more options before beginning each match, such as giving players a choice to choose the map and game modes prior to jumping in, including a better more effective side arm for the Battle Medic, among a few other additions, for $29.99 I am certainly not complaining based on its current offerings. Lawbreakers is a complete blast to play!
Currently available on PS4, PS4 Pro and PC, Lawbreakers looks crisp and clean and plays super smooth on PS4 Pro and PC. This review was played on the PS4 Pro and PC
Ultimately, Boss Key Productions has a real gem on their hands with Lawbreakers. Its staying power will be solely determined and maintained by offering key additives through regular and effective updates.