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Breaking the Law of Gravity in LAWBREAKERS is Fast-Paced Fun, But Tough to Get Into (Review)

Breaking the Law of Gravity in LAWBREAKERS is Fast-Paced Fun, But Tough to Get Into (Review)

Nearly two years ago, Gears of War Creator Cliff Blezinski unveiled Boss Key Productions‘ inaugural title, LawBreakers: a fast-paced first-person 5v5 hero shooter centered around fierce head-to-head multiplayer competition and breaking the laws of gravity. While the return of the arena shooter (think Unreal Tournament) felt like a fresh and welcome return at the time, a certain popular hero shooter (*cough* Overwatch) hit the scene last year and snuffed out some of the excitement. While LawBreakers takes a unique spin on the genre with its anti-gravity mechanics, and balls-to-the-wall action, the game’s bland world-building, and inaccessibility, will likely turn people off.

If you’re familiar with games like Quake and Unreal Tournament, slipping into the speedy chaos that is LawBreakers will feel both familiar, and exciting. Unfortunately, however, not every player will have an easy time getting into the swing of things. The speed on its own isn’t an issue, but it exacerbates the problem caused by a lack of direction/instruction for first-time players. Sure, the majority of the five modes are nothing new; you’ve got your domination and capture-the-flag type modes, etc; but the game fails to explain how or what each of the 18 characters’ hosts of abilities do. Your best bet is to cycle through the characters and try stuff these things out—which is rough to grasp amidst the high-speed chaos around you. As a result, it isn’t as easy to pick up and play as something like Overwatch.

The good thing is that the hero abilities are delightfully varied, mostly balanced, and a blast to use once you’ve got the hang of things. Each character class boasts three special abilities (one of which is an ultimate) and two weapon modes. For most of the characters, one of the abilities will provide a boost to the character’s locomotion style, while the other acts as a grenade or projectile of some sort. But not all of them are structured the same.

There are a handful of support characters on the other hand who allow you to do things like give surrounding players a boost in speed, increase their damage output, protect surrounding characters, or dole out health packs. Despite falling into familiar class clichés, and differing in function, each character maintains an offensive edge. So, while you’ll be switching between characters to accomplish different objectives, you won’t feel powerless out in the field, and tied down simply because you are a medic. That said, the frantic pace of the combat makes support characters feel less important to the outcome of the matches at times. Surprisingly, though, I haven’t found a character who is overpowered, which is a rarity these days. Hooray for balance.

Sadly, where the class abilities shine, the characters themselves fall flat. As I already mentioned, there are eighteen in total (two in each class), but none of them are memorable. There are a few wacky characters packed into the roster, but the roster In fact, most of the time I wasn’t able to differentiate between between these characters from afar out in the field. There were a few I knew by sight (because I was familiar with performing their specials), but the others were nothing but a blur as they passed by. It’s a real shame because the character bios hidden within the menu sounded interesting. Of course, I’ve only been playing the game for a few days, so hopefully things will change once I settle into my favorites.

As for story, all we really know from the get-go is that the crew is divided, with half of the crew belonging to the Law squad, and the other half belonging to the Breakers (hence two characters per class). While a cool idea, the difference between the two isn’t really apparent in the game, and doesn’t hold any weight when it comes to the objective. There’s no single-player campaign to rely on for context because the game is a multiplayer-only experience.

The multiplayer maps weren’t necessarily bad, but they weren’t anything special either when it came to aesthetics. The saving grace was the anti-gravity pockets peppered throughout the map, and the interesting ways in which each character was able to take advantage of their unique traversal abilities, like teleporting, using a grapple hook, or laser propulsion boots (that double as a weapon, of course!) from point A to point B. Want to slide across the map to your objective? Select the Wraith class and teleport in the direction of the anti-gravity zone and prepare to leap to victory.

The Verdict

LawBreakers might not be taking a revolutionary step in the first-person shooter genre, but it is still a hell of a lot of fun thanks to the fast-paced anti-gravity chaos. It boasts a balanced 18-hero (nine-class) roster, action-packed anti-gravity sequences, and snappy mechanics. If you’re a fan of games like Unreal Tournament and Quake, this might be worth a flier at $30. Its unwelcoming aesthetic and learning curve, however,F will make this a hard sell for certain folk. The only question now is how many people will be giving their favorite first-person shooters a break to break the law. Will you be grabbing the game? Let us know in the comments below!

Rating: 3 burritos out of 5

Editor’s Note: This review was completed with a PS4 copy of LawBreakers provided by the publisher. The game hit shelves on August 8, 2017.

Images: Boss Key Productions

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