Jumped out from the blue of a zero-gravity area filled with crazies, an assassin blob runs and slides towards you with a matching look of plotting something horrible; and when the moment you let your guard down, you better hope your nuts are still well-intact. I got that feeling of fear for Boss Key Productions’ LawBreakers fate – will it be different from Overwatch or will it end up like a clone?
Some may say it’s another Overwatch clone. Others may think that LawBreakers is just another first-person shooter multiplayer game joining the bandwagon with other Overwatch rip-offs, but I’m bloody glad to say that it is not.
LawBreakers is another creation by the former Epic Games Lead Designer for Gears of War, Cliff Bleszinski. It’s another online shooter that wants to make a difference in the genre. In addition, it’s not just another online shooter, LawBreakers certainly stands out among its cousins like Paladins, Overwatch, and Battleborn. To better give it a comparison, it’s best to associate the game to Unreal Tournament.
First of all, LawBreakers does not have any single-player modes or even a co-op story mode if you’re expecting one. Much like this generation’s team-based FPS games, LawBreakers centers itself to the core of the multiplayer genre. The fast-paced combat with zero-gravity makes LawBreakers one enjoyable shooter. However, it doesn’t have that secret ingredient to make players stay. It made me undoubtedly feel that it lacks the replay value.
LawBreakers brings you into its arena without any tutorials so don’t expect any. Boss Key Productions wants their players to get the feel of the game and discover things by themselves. Beta testers should not have any problems with the game’s mechanics, but for those who didn’t get to play in the beta, it should only take a couple of matches before you get the whole gist of LawBreakers. However, I find it lazy ditching the tutorial mode, I mean it’s an aspect where you learn even the most basic things.
Diving into the game’s modes, I love how Boss Key Productions decided to make the playlist of game modes random than making them available for everyone to cherry pick. They made sure that every game mode won’t get deserted. Just like in other games such as Titanfall 2, Capture the Flag and Amped Hardpoint feel more like a ghost town. Even if Respawn Entertainment added the Mixed Tape feature where players can add (or remove) the modes they want to play, it’s still hardly ever used. This is where LawBreakers got it right, I can choose to go for Custom Mode with my friends or if I want to play every game mode randomly, then I have Quickplay.
There are 5 modes in total: Occupy, Turf War, Uplink, Overcharge, and Blitzball. Each mode offer different gameplay mechanics and goals except for two modes: Uplink and Overcharge. Both modes play significantly similar to each other.
Overcharge plays like this: each team needs to take and place the Battery at their base and charge it until it reaches 100%. However, when the opposing team steals the Battery from your base, they have to charge the Battery from the beginning; but the teams retain their charging progress and it resumes whenever they get the Battery back. It plays exactly the same as Uplink – but instead of “charging”, the enemy team needs to “download”. It’s like you were given two different brands of candies thinking that both might taste differently, but sadly it doesn’t.
LawBreakers also has domination modes: Occupy and Turf War. Unlike Overcharge and Uplink, both of these domination modes play differently which gives justice to the real meaning of variety. Occupy is more on capturing and defending randomly assigned points on the map, while Turf War concentrates on capturing placed points from A to C – but added with a little twist. Both modes might sound like it plays the same, but they don’t. While I feel Occupy is more enjoyable for its random generated capture points and casual feel, Turf War is rather competitive that needs strategy.
Last but not least, Blitzball. If you have Final Fantasy X in mind, please don’t go on any further. Blitzball plays no different from other ball sports. Pretty much like Basketball and Football, each team needs to bring the ball to the opposing team’s home court to score. While the mode itself is simple, what makes it exciting are the various character classes – that goes the same with the other game modes.
Speaking of character classes, LawBreakers has 9 different types of playable roles: Assassin, Juggernaut, Enforcer, Wraith, Harrier, Battle Medic, Gunslinger, Titan, and Vanguard. While each role gives diversity, I find certain roles to have higher advantage in certain game modes. With the Assassin’s ability to jump higher after sliding, the Enforcer’s sprint, and the Gunslinger’s teleportation skill, you can easily bring the Uplink device to your base or even take the ball to the enemy’s base without any effort. I was able to exploit the most viable characters to use in certain modes. Boss Key needs get the balance straight soon or you’ll find more Gunslingers and Assassins in Blitzball.
Even if you have various Roles to pick, what makes it annoying is the lack of overviews at the main menu. You have to join in a game before you can identify each role’s abilities. LawBreakers forces you to play the game blindly without knowing how your character works – while others find it a great way to discover new things, I find it dreadful and a disheartening idea. Imagine you’re thrown into the battlefield without any prior knowledge of basic combat, don’t tell me you’re up for discovering something new like stepping on a landmine? I think not.
Now, there are two factions in LawBreakers: The Law and The Breakers. I actually find it a bit corny and Boss Key could have picked a better and bad-ass name for each. However, there aren’t much distinction between the two groups aside from their aesthetics. The roles are similar for both the Laws and the Breakers which makes me believe even more that Boss Key is too damn lazy in adding something unique to its group of characters.
While roles are one of its important factors in the game, controls top the priority list. Given that this is played on a PS4, I can’t help but say that the default sensitivity on LawBreakers gives you a big disadvantage. In my first few matches, the sluggish turns was just disappointing. I had to find the right sensitivity configuration to fit to my comfort. Given that I’ve already played a lot of fast-paced shooters like Titanfall 2, Overwatch, Paladins, Battleborn, and Call of Duty, the overall controls in LawBreakers are inconsistent and that’s because of the game’s performance.
It’s discouraging to say that LawBreakers’ is unpolished. The frame-pacing is inconsistent and there are a lot of frame-rate drops in certain areas which affects the overall experience. While it’s safe to say that LawBreakers is in its first few days after launch, Boss Key could have given it a month for better optimization before letting this bugger out. Even if it does run at 60 frames-per-second, the targeted FPS becomes irrelevant when there are consistent frame drops. However, LawBreakers dedicated servers are surprisingly stable. I play on the US-West server since our dedicated South East Asia (SEA) server is a dead hole, and what makes it great is that I don’t experience any delays or network connectivity issues. I sit on a 185 to 201 ping and it still plays wonderful.
LawBreakers is highly competitive and that’s what makes it fun and unique. However, it wards off casual players who are interested to play it. While Overwatch’s vibrant colors give that casual feel, LawBreakers is a gloomy and a serious game that appeals to hardcore and competitive players. If Boss Key fixes the overall performance of the game and add more interesting game modes (not another Uplink/Overcharge) then probably I’ll play LawBreakers a few more years before I decide to move on.
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