It is sad to think that the best downloadable multiplayer shooter on the Xbox 360 is still Battlefield 1943, which at this point, nearly came out 5 years ago. Since then, we have seen numerous attempts to challenge Battlefield without much success. Games such as Section 8: Prejudice and Blacklight: Tango Down were decent yet unremarkable, while games like Breach were just a complete waste of time. When I saw that Rekoil was getting an Xbox Live Arcade release under the alternate title "Rekoil: Liberator", I was excited because the time is about right for one more great downloadable shooter on Xbox 360, before everyone focuses on the two new consoles.
Unfortunately though, Rekoil: Liberator is far from great. In fact, it's flat-out bad in many respects. It is a painfully generic shooter backed up by poor gunplay and cheap production values. There aren't many folks playing Rekoil, and I can't say I blame them.
Rekoil: Liberator is a multiplayer only game, so don't expect any single-player modes at all. There isn't even a training mode but you shouldn't need one, if you've played any other first-person shooter out there. As a result, Rekoil does have a good amount of maps and modes.
The maps are all standard in how they look but at least there is plenty of variety going from one map to the next. For example, there are some dark, grimy levels like the Prison and the Subway but there are also much brighter levels like the Village and the Sawmills. The maps are well designed for the most part, mixing up close-combat areas with larger sections for sniping.
The modes are nothing out of the ordinary for the most part, with the standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Domination modes being represented. On top of that, there are modes like Capture the Suitcase and Hold the Suitcase, which is a bit like Oddball from the Halo series.
There is only one more interesting mode called Rekondite, which is similar to the multiplayer mod Hidden: Source. In this mode, one of the players is chosen to be the Rekondite, who is an invisible guy, armed only with flash grenades and a knife. All of the players need to hunt down the Rekondite and whoever kills him will become the new Rekondite.
Sounds like a fun mode, but it sucks because the Rekondite is not a fun character to play as. When you finally become him, you should feel a sense of empowerment, the fact you are finally playing as the character that was giving you such a hard time before. However, playing as the Rekondite sucks because the knife lacks punch and you don't have many options for getting around the level. So while the Rekondite mode is definitely the most note-worthy of all of the modes, that's not saying much and it is still the worst mode in the game, despite being something slightly different.
I also found the Deathmatch mode to be bothersome on some of the small maps. Spawn camping is an effective tactic here as players are given no spawn protection when spawning, meaning easy kills. It is embarrassing and upsetting that the developers thought that it was okay to ship the game like this. I am the number one player in the world in the Deathmatch category and I am not proud of it.
But even when Rekoil is working as intended, it's still not a particularly fun game to play. The game has a nice, brisk pace to it but the core shooting feels flimsy and unsatisfying. This is one of those strange games were the shooting mechanics are so borked that shooting from the hip is much more effective than using the ironsights. When aiming down the sights, your aiming sensitivity is still exactly the same as when you're not aiming, which is fine with a mouse but is unwieldy on a controller. There also appears to be a lot more, ahem, recoil when aiming with the weapons so instead, do what I do and spray manically, hoping for a lucky headshot. Rekoil presents this weird situation where unskilled dummies like me do better than people who are actually trying to play the game properly.
There are plenty of weapons in the game, split up into different classes. There are assault rifles, sub-machine guns, shotguns, light machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket launchers. You can also equip an additional sidearm, along with a grenade and your trusty knife. The main problem I have with the weapons is that all of the automatic weapons feel almost identical, so that large number of weapons isn't very impressive. Most people tend to stick with the default AK47 because what's the point in changing? Rekoil doesn't even have an unlock system at all, you have access to all of the games weapons immediately which is overwhelming, and with no progression to work towards there is no reason to play this weak multiplayer shooter over and over again.
The graphics in Rekoil: Liberator are mostly grungy and dated. The character models look rough and are animated stiffly. The HUD is also rubbish, thanks to the ridiculously small font used for how much ammo you have left. The environments look a bit better though with some good looking textures and decent lighting effects. The gun models are well detailed too. It's not a particularly impressive looking game but the graphics on show here are one of the better aspects of Rekoil.
The sound effects used throughout Rekoil are poor. All of the weapons sound wimpy and unimpressive and aside from that, there isn't much else to comment on. There is some horrible menu music that sounds like it is from a cheap TV show and the multiplayer announcer is dreadful, especially during the Domination game mode where he never shuts up.
The most memorable moment I had during Rekoil was when I managed to kill enough people in a row for the announcer to go "Dayum!", because that's ridiculous in all of the right ways. Aside from that, this is an utterly forgettable game that everyone has abandoned already only one day after release.
TWO OUT OF FIVE
(A bad game with an abundance of flaws which outweigh its positive aspects)