I’ve been dipping in and out of LawBreakers, the latest game from industry veteran Cliffy B, and I’m still no better at it than the first day I played. I’m terrible at LawBreakers, basically. Typically, I don’t really play that many online shooters. A bit of Battlefield 1 on Sunday/Monday evenings with the boys is about as far as I go. Other than that, nada.
So why do I keep coming back to LawBreakers? Because it’s actually pretty good, even if you’re not the greatest player to wield a DualShock 4.
LawBreakers is a 5v5 hero-shooter. If that sounds familiar, don’t worry, it’s not just a copy-and-paste of the other hero-shooter, Overwatch. You get your pick of 18 characters, each of which have their own strengths, weaknesses and most importantly, their own way of moving around. Something I quickly learned with LawBreakers is that movement is everything. Stay still and you’re asking to be gibbed.
Thankfully, movement is brilliant. Whether you’re swinging around like a wannabe-Spider-Man, triple jumping over enemies, or simply sliding across the ground to take an enemy by surprise, it all works swimmingly well. That being said, it’s difficult to master and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to play at the level I’ve seen some play at during my time with LawBreakers.
The aim of the game, then, is… Erm, well, that depends on what the game wants you to do. Matchmaking is completely random unless you’re playing a custom game with friends, so you’re pretty much at the whim of the game’s algorithms. Likewise, the maps you’ll be duking it out in aren’t optional either, and you’re left playing whatever the game decides. Bloody machines…
It’s a shame, really, as the game has a couple of really, really good maps while the rest are kind of all samey. By that I mean they follow a very similar layout but are dressed-up differently. You’ll have your flanking corridors (or lanes, whatever) that all converge on the center of map where gravity takes some time off. It’s here that you’ll find the most ludicrous of plays. Low-gravity bubbles encourage even the less mobile characters to get up in the air and rain down hell on the opposing teams, though naturally you’ll need to have some skill to pull it off effectively. I don’t have that skill. I have two jobs and a child instead. Woe be me…
Gameplay wise you’re looking at the true evolution of the old-school arena shooters. It’s very reminiscent of Unreal Tournament and its successive sequels – that’s not a bad comparison to draw as I spent many an hour blowing the heads off of pixel people. You could say that Unreal Tournament is in LawBreakers’ DNA, and it clearly shows in the fast-paced shooty-shooty action.
When it comes down to it, you’ve got a few game modes that are spins on the classics, most of which work really well, and a couple that kind of fall face first. That’s why having the game select the maps and game modes for each round is infuriating at times as you can easily go through an hour or two of play before your favourite made and map get paired up together. For me, it’s all about the movement. I love played as the Assassin, swinging around with my fancy glowy thing that lets me zip around a map. I generally just keep to myself and try to avoid the firefights, instead opting to focus solely on the objective – something our own Kyle Durant has raged about in many a Facebook status since getting his hands on LawBreakers.
For those who aren’t especially skilled at shooters, you can still have a good time by contributing through objective-based play. Capturing flags and the like is worth more than a few kills and you’ll soon be getting messages from your team thanking you for being a top lad/lady. Or at least I did, but I was also on wrong end of some nasty messages, too, so be warned: It’s an online game in the year 2017 and people are still utter shitbags.
From a technical standpoint, I never had any problems with LawBreakers. I know there was a bug affecting the game early on in the game’s release window, but that’s since been dealt with and the game runs just as well as you could hope for any shooter to run. It’s fast, it’s fluid, and it looks really, really nice in motion. I suppose my only real criticism is that the characters don’t really have that much variety in terms of design. Sure, when you’re playing as each character you know what’s what because they all have their own hands/weapons etc (some can even propel through the air by blindfiring backwards – cool!!), but at a distance, where most encounters will take place, it’s not easy to tell who you’re coming up against. This proved fatal for me on a few occasions where I wasn’t sure whether I should leg it the other way or take them on. It’s a small complaint that doesn’t really tarnish the game, but it’s worth noting. I guess I could alleviate this problem by getting a massive 4K telly…
LawBreakers is a fast, fierce, fun shooter. It's just a shame that I'm not very good at it! That's not a problem, though, thanks to the objective-based gameplay that's pushed to the forefront of this gravity-bending hero shooter. So if you, like me, are crap at shooters but really want to get involved, LawBreakers will welcome you with open arms. Then its players will crush you with mad floaty parkour skills, but that's all part of the charm. Right?
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.