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Takedown: Red Sabre Review

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On 10/26/2013 at 03:43 PM by Matt R

Not sure if I'll be able to trust another tactical first-person shooter ever again.

Definitely not a good idea.

Prepare to have your hopes dashed on the rocks of reality: this is nothing like Rainbow Six. There is nothing good, fun, or entertaining about it. It's not something you should try for any reason. It's so bad that it will take months of patches before it could be merely described as bad.

Now, I don't want to hear from you wise guys (or girls) about how I'm not playing it right, or that I suck at games; two other Pixlbit staff members Travis Hawks and Dan Iverson received review codes to play it, and they too wanted to stop very quickly. I stuck around a lot longer and only got more and more frustrated for absolutely no payoff.

The first, most miserable, and most persistent problem out of the gate was the insta-kill AI. No matter how careful I was, I could hardly go anywhere without getting killed by enemies who could shoot immediately on sight.

To solve this problem is the common tactical shooter game mechanic, the cover system, which in this case doesn't solve anything at all. You can tilt your head left or right at a 45 degree angle and shoot and that's about it! This isn't helpful and it tends to make you look like a Muppet (Go on, try it in real life; I've got all day. Walk up next to an open door and peek your head out by tilting it at an angle).

It doesn't lend much of an advantage, and if you have the misfortune to walk up against the corner of a wall or door jam, the game automatically snaps you up against it and momentarily puts your weapon into a state of non-use until you press the tilt button, almost to mimic a stealth game. Fellow staffer Travis learned firsthand from the designer that it was for the sake of realism; walking up to a wall in real life would force you to point your gun off to the side.

But this is a first-person shooter; making the gun disappear when you're trying to hug the wall in the heat of battle will end up getting you killed over and over again, and when an enemy decides to rush at you from an angle while you're snapped against the wall, you're a sitting duck. Stupid idiots! Gah!!

Trying to constantly unsnap from walls and attempting to outwit the AI induces a helpless nihilism in the player. Enemies can hear every footstep, and they have perfect aim, so what's the point in crouching quietly around a level? Don't touch the walls! AHH! What's the point of anything if enemy placement is going to be somewhat random each time you restart a level?

There's no tactic. There's no victory. There is only death.

Then there are the many lower-level bugs that create an eerie, horror game atmosphere: freezing up after simply restarting a mission; downed enemies with half their body on two different sides of a door; enemies in the distance, undisturbed, staring at the wall; downed enemies arching their bodies downward like a daddy longleg spider in its death throes; weapons of downed enemies sticking to the wall (or floating); spent bullet shells attaching themselves to the wall and floating slowly upward; or, my all-time favorite, an enemy stuck between an open door and a wall six feet off the ground greeting me with a game over.

505 Games has been correcting a few of the numerous glitches, bugs, and design flaws along the way at about a patch a week, so who knows? Maybe a year from now it will turn out to be decent. The updates thus far have given enemies less than perfect aim, and online multiplayer went from broken to useable, for example.

I'm proud to announce that while I recently finished the first level, Biolab, after hours and hours of miserable failure, I received no satisfaction other than my own bragging rights. There's no underlying story, no post-mission briefing, no “Great job, sport!” no e-pat on the back, or victory video; no gold star to be seen or congratulations to be heard.

At $15 on Steam, it's $30 overpriced. It fails as a video game on so many levels, and so completely dysfunctional and unfinished to the point that it's unethical they would even consider foisting this on unsuspecting customers. PC gamers may be used to it, but the only way to make it stop is to take your money elsewhere. Don't buy.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Travis Hawks Senior Editor

10/26/2013 at 11:06 PM

I previewed this game at QuakeCon, and although there were definitely bugs and glitches to be seen, I was also assured that they would be (or already were) taken care of. I was pretty disappointed with the "final" product, like Matt mentions. 

With that being said, I received a giftable copy... any takers?!


10/27/2013 at 12:40 AM

I'll take that copy off your hands :p. Feeling a little masochistic right now.

Also LMAO @ "At $15 on Steam, it's $30 overpriced."

This game is so bad that the developers should be paying the PLAYER $15 instead? Jesus I've never seen this before. There's no way a game this bad has been released on Steam. My mind is blown.

Matt R Staff Alumnus

10/27/2013 at 01:42 AM

Yes. They're taking feedback from the forums, social media, and technical support channels to help patch what needs to be fixed. The players are literally acting as play testers, and the game's vital aspects are being added and modified every week.

Here are only a few examples of what's been fixed:

Added “Team Messages” VO & Text Hotkeys (Z + Number Keys)

Player Servers now correctly display numbers of players in games

Many doors have been closed in various locations

Named Loadouts “Recon, Assault, Breach, Sniper” [When I first started playing this game, the loadout choices were listed as "loadout 1, 2, 3, 4" before beginning a level. It didn't tell you what TYPE of guns you were going to be playing with until after you started! It was an unfun mystery.]

Increased Grenade Damage Range

Bomb in Biolab: Lab now properly lit

Team AI accuracy and response time increased


I didn't even mention the 3 squad members that follow you around, who are completely useless (or were, when I played). Every time you die you take over for the next one, so you basically get 4 tries. But since it doesn't transition instantaneously, you watch yourself die, and it leaves more than enough time for the enemy to shoot your next one or two teammates, which happened to me over and over and over.


10/27/2013 at 02:38 PM

I'm pretty confident in saying that SWAT 4 was the last word in quality CQ tactical simulations. Rainbow Six has gone towards arcade, and now this train wreck. I don't think this kind of thing can be done properly on a meager budget. Unfortunately, the AAA publishers will not commit to a game with the severity that a tactical simulation demands. What a shame.


01/07/2014 at 12:55 AM

Well that was certainly one of the most colorful reviews I have ever read.

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