Sunday, September 4, 2016

Livelock Review (XONE)

Livelock is a cross between a dungeon crawling action RPG and a twin-stick shooter featuring a post- apocalyptic story full of robots and I couldn’t be any more in love with it.  The class-based co-op gameplay is a ton of fun and the presentation is remarkably polished, too.  It stumbles here and there – mostly because there simply isn’t enough of it for our tastes – but overall Livelock is pretty darn awesome.  See our full review for details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
  • Developer: Tuque Games
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Action
  • Pros: Great co-op; fun gameplay; nice presentation; neat story
  • Cons: Performance issues; kinda short; more build variety would be nice
  • MSRP: $20

A cataclysmic event that can’t be avoided is going to destroy all organic life on Earth so mankind devised a way to download human consciousness into computers so that, when the apocalypse was over however many hundreds years later, those human minds could then be implanted in new bodies.  An A.I. known as Satcom was tasked with watching over the Earth until the humans could take over again, but the machines it used to maintain the surface of the planet went out of control.  Obviously, before mankind can make its big comeback, these bad robots need to be taken care of first.

To do so, three exceptional human minds were implanted into robots and tasked with clearing the surface.  Similar to The Fall, however, Livelock raises questions about the ability of an artificial intelligence (Satcom) to defy its programming and re-interpret how best to accomplish its mission.  This gives Livelock a much more fascinating story than just one about re-taking a post-apocalyptic world, which makes the whole experience much more engrossing than you’d initially expect.

As mentioned above, the gameplay is sort of a mix of a dungeon crawler and twin-stick shooter.  You move around with the left stick, aim with the right stick, shoot with the right trigger, and use the characters’ various abilities with the other buttons.  Each of the three characters has different specialties – basically support, tank, or long range – so they play fairly differently from each other.  There isn’t any loot, per se, but as you level up each character they earn new weapons and abilities and you can use the carbon you find in each level to upgrade the weapons and make them more powerful.  You have three weapon slots, and each character has a couple of different weapons you can choose from for each slot, but there isn’t a ton of build variety here. 

Since you have to level up the weapons, you’ll probably stick with the first weapon you find for each slot and upgrade it all the way rather than switching, so there isn’t a ton of build variety here to freshen up the experience as you play.  There isn’t a new game plus option, but you can re-play missions on higher difficulty levels with your same character to keep leveling them up and upgrade their other weapons.  While there isn’t a ton of gameplay build variety, the game does feature fairly decent aesthetic customization.  You can unlock custom heads and bodies of different colors to customize the look of each character a bit.

Each level mostly consists of you simply working your way from point A to point B blasting everything in sight, but there are some hidden areas off the beaten path if you want to wander a bit to find some extra carbon.  There are also multiple sections in the game where you have to protect a central point from waves of enemies, something which I got kind of tired by the end.  The game doesn’t have a ton of levels, though, and we beat all of them in less than 10-minutes each for a total play time of somewhere between 3-4 hours.  The idea is that you’re supposed to re-play the game multiple times and with each character, but I’m still hungry for more.  More levels.  More weapons.  More build variety.  I liked the game a lot, but I wish there were more to it (and the survival mode gets boring pretty quickly …).

Livelock is meant to be played as a three-player co-op game either online or locally.  Online play has both public games with randoms as well as private games and works well.  The game really shines with a full team of players, but it is also actually quite fun and playable solo if you want.  I don’t know that I’d recommend it if you only plan to play solo, but it is an option.

The presentation in Livelock is really well done all around.  The graphics are quite good with some good looking environments, great robot designs, and fantastic special effects for gunfire, laser blasts, and explosions.  There are some performance issues when the screen is full of enemies and special effects as the framerate slows to a crawl, but most of the time it runs acceptably fine.  The sound also deserves a shoutout with great sound effects for combat and solid voice acting.

In the end, Livelock is a pretty good experience all around.  It plays great, tells a neat story, has excellent presentation, and is just a ton of fun to play.  As much as I wish there were more levels / weapons / everything else, for the $20 MSRP it does offer plenty of content for the price.  If you love co-op games and need a new title to play with your friends, Livelock is highly recommended.  Buy it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.