Review: LawBreakers – To Zero Gravity or Not to Zero Gravity?

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Competitive FPS titles aren’t something new. Thanks to games such as Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment, the hero themed fps genre has seen itself grow exponentially over the course of the past year. Games such as Dirty Bomb and Paladin’s have seen success because the reemergence of the genre thanks to the success of Blizzard. To join the genre comes the new kid on the block developed by Boss Key Productions lead by former Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski himself.


Reviewed on PC and PlayStation 4. PC Hardware Used:

  • Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Game Ready Plus
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K
  • RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance

While LawBreakers certainly is an FPS title at its core, it embraces everything Overwatch did and openly gives the entire genre itself the giant bird without caring about the results. From an initial look, Boss Key’s first game may look like your typical 5v5 “hero shooter”. Mostly due to the fact that every character brings a unique appearance, set of weapons, combat maneuverability, and  set of abilities to the table.

Even to some the maps are fairly simple arena maps where adrenaline fueled combat takes place as players content for set objectives across one of the games five modes. All of them are rather the same since all inherit the basics of the capture and defend mindset. Modes such as Turf War and Occupy are straight forward. You’ll capture nodes or points for scores and eventually win if your team accumulates enough. The other three are quite simple as well.

Blitzball, Uplink, and Overcharge are quite simple. Blitzball being the only on that’s vastly different from the other two since it serves up as the games capture the flag mode, but without returning the flag to your base for points. Instead the ball is moved to the enemy base where your teams goal sits neatly underneath the opposing teams spawn. Uplink and Overcharge are simple. Both teams vie for control over the objective only to retrieve it and return it to their base until the objective reaches 100% for the team to score.

LawBreakers and Overwatch are
two very different titles.

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Underneath the core game, LawBreakers is far from an Overwatch clone. Instead the game is so-much different that its inherently impossible to even draw comparisons between the two. This is partially due to how LawBreakers foregoes it’s cartoony appeal for a more Unreal Tournament 3 approach with shinier and more realistic graphics, but also because the game was developed with gravity as its centerpiece. The biggest difference between the two is overall gameplay.

While the games due serve up customizations for your characters in the means of skins, weapon skins, icons, and decals. The game serves up everything quite differently. Unlike Overwatch, all abilities, even ultimate ones, are all put on flat timers. Players will not be struggling to gain theirs based upon damage blocked, damage healed, or even how much damage dealt. Instead the flat timers put ultimate abilities in a window where they can be used multiple times without playing an unfortunate guessing game where lady luck may not be in your favor.

To further differentiate itself from other hero-shooters, LawBreakers takes full advantage of its ordinary class archetypes by building them in distinct manners of movement based around how the core game works. It’s here in LawBreakers that you will find this delightful nuance something to love. Lets take the Assassin for instance. Assassin’s are one of the fastest classes archetypes in the game. They are ones that dart through the air using their grappling hook like tether to quickly maneuver into areas of opportunity so that they may hack, slash, or shotgun foes down while dashing and double jumping away.

As a polar opposite you have the Vanguard. These ladies, with their miniguns attached, can gleefully fly short distances rather quickly. Their ability to do so allows them to be one of the quickest characters until they run out of fuel. Even out of fuel, they host a painstaking amount of damage quickly as their weapons spin up, and begin to whittle away at their opponents health. To further lean favor in their way, they come with a power-housed ultimate ability that draws them back from enemies before hurling them down, creating a zone of zero gravity that they can use to their advantage in combat or get away safe and sound.

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Since movement in this game will seem rather alien to most, it’s highly suggested that players take time to adjust to what each class has to offer. Since each of them are unique in how they play, each of them will approach combat quite differently. Characters like the slow, but hard hitting titan, aren’t masters of zero gravity. Instead they are masters of packing a powerful punch which will send enemies quickly retreating. Their close combat prowess is even more notable due to their tesla based shotgun that will quickly eat at an enemies health bar until they either run away in retreat or get a fortunate kill against the titan itself.

Since movement and combat both have rather solid foundations and a good relationship with LawBreakers–so-much-so, you’d almost think Cliff Bleszinski had been considering making another Unreal Tournament before having departed from Epic Games a few years back. This mostly comes from the fact the guns seem heavily inspired for his love of all things big, sharp, and highly explosive. Something you wouldn’t normally see in a title such as Overwatch wouldn’t imagine doing so.

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I can openly admit that I truly appreciate the attention to detail that Boss Key Productions has given the game. Mostly for the fact the game is pretty well balanced with a few minor annoyances here or there, but nothing that can’t be overcome with learning how to counter an over abundance of assassin’s or wraiths. As stated, ultimate ability timers are something to be appreciative of. For most classes, they are rather beefy, but not-so-much so that they are resoundingly game breaking. Characters such as the Titan don’t hesitate in zapping enemies down in a Star Wars style way by electrocuting opposing players to death.

Carving out double kills, triple kills, and even quad kills are rather satisfying. The reward behind it is the announcer telling you what you did while the game announces to the lobby the steak you are on. Characters such as the Wraith easily lock opposing teams down by making their movement slow, their abilities almost unusable, and any chance of survivable almost zero. To deviate from his controlling ult, Assassin’s love to get in close. Their ultimate ability allows them to attack faster, heal themselves for a small portion of their damage dealt.

Not all classes will perform great across all the games modes.
Some will fail where others will succeed.

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Across the five modes, some classes will find themselves excelling where others fall short in performance. The best example to this is the titan in Blitzball. While I’ve certainly figured out how to manage my class quite well, this meta gives the game a nice ring to it, and forces players to adapt their play style to each mode, map, and team build. On modes such as Occupy, it won’t be odd to see me taking on the role of the Battle Medic. This is mostly due to the fact teams won’t be scared to bombard the location. Since this mode requires the team to actively hold the point, the Battle Medic’s ultimate is a godsend.

Since the Defense Grid he or she deploys deflects projects in and out of it, this ultimate is the ultimate tactile advantage, but your team must be ready since they can’t fire in or out of it for just a few seconds. In comparison, you have the Juggernauts who are rather versatile. In maps where there are tight corridors, these guys shine the most as they can come up with some clutch-plays by throwing up their shield walls, and creating choke points that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

Your skill will matter. You falter, so does your team.

LawBreakers isn’t shy about its focus on both skill and finesse. The game is one that will slam you into place by grading your performance. If you’re one that struggles with your kill-to-death ratio or objective participation, you may find yourself getting lower grades, points, and even ratings. Since the game doesn’t have a server browser where you can go into non-ranked based games, you may find yourself finding a itch that can’t quite be scratched at this time.

One thing Boss Key can be given a well-earned nod for is the games well crafted netcode. Unlike games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield 1LawBreakers has one of the best, if not most rock solid netcodes to date. Since their game is latency-intolerance, it’s important to note that while I was on PC, I set the graphics to the max, and even found myself grinning from ear to ear when I noticed I was running the game at 120-plus FPS without a single stutter. Of course I wouldn’t know this unless I hadn’t been gifted the game from an awesome pal of mine.

The one thing that LawBreakers does find itself struggling with across both platforms is AFK players and people who quit out of matches earlier. Even though I’m familiar with this from my time on Rainbow Six SiegeBattlefield 1, and even Paragon. This approach doesn’t make the game any less frustrating since it is a five-on-five focused title. LawBreakers does manage to backfill vacant slots rather quickly. The longest I’ve seen it go is roughly three minutes, which was long enough for both teams to end up in a stalemate during a solid game of Blitzball.

LawBreakers Doesn’t Need to be a Triple-A Experience to Succeed.
Closing Thoughts Follow.

 

LawBreakers – PC and PlayStation 4
Developer:
Boss Key Productions
Publisher: Nexon
Price: $29.99
Release Date: Available Now

While collecting aesthetic skins and feasting upon the flaws my foes has been pleasing, LawBreakers has filled the hankering I’ve had for almost a decade while awaiting a new Unreal Tournament style game. The low gravity approach to combat is something I enjoy more than I thought I would. Finding myself locking down maps during Blitzball is amusing.

While I have enjoyed it, there’s nothing to say that I anyone else hasn’t already. LawBreakers is a game that’s taking full advantage of the mini-renaissance hero-based shooters are having. Since the sky is the limit, Boss Key Productions didn’t hold back. Their game serves up a beautiful bullet ballet that only fans of shooters will enjoy as they engross themselves for hours on end as they scatter their enemies across the maps, lock down objectives, and ultimately find themselves at peace with this title that has more to offer than it appears to show on the surface.


Our review is based upon a retail version provided to us by the games publisher.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 8 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on TwitterGoogle+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

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