Take Arms

I haven’t had a ton of experience with online Xbox Live Indie Games.  In fact, the only game I was able to find anyone to play against was Creed Arena, and that wasn’t exactly the most inspiring play session.  So I admit I was a bit on the worried side when Take Arms reared its head.  It’s also part of the 2011 Indie Game Summer Uprising, which so far hasn’t exactly been brimming with quality, sort of like Netflix lately.

Take Arms is a 2-D online shooter, sort of like what Counter-Strike would have been like if the SNES had online play back in 1994.  And yes, I’ve heard of XBAND, which, from what I hear, really didn’t work all that well.  Anyway, 16-Bit Counter-Strike.  Where was I?

It’s not unusual for me to skip multiplayer when reviewing a game.  In this case, I skipped the single player.  Along with my boyfriend’s roommate Bryce, we played on Xbox Live.  We jumped in and I immediately got a feel for the control scheme.  Well, most of it.  It works pretty much like any third or first person shooter, only from a 2D perspective.  The ability to jump down off of platforms was discovered by Bryce, which was a bit embarrassing for me, but we had a good time learning the ropes.

After about five minutes, it became clear that one-on-one was not going to cut the mustard.  After putting out a call on Twitter, I was able to corral the full lineup of eight players, although for the most part we had to deal with seven.  We moved into team matches, and one of the first major flaws in the game came to light: the inability to choose teams.  Among the players was Nathan Graves of Gear Fish and Dcon from Dcon’s Xbox Indie Reviews.  I wanted to team with them and call ourselves “The Only Xbox Live Indie Game Reviewers Who Don’t Give Ten-Thumbs Up To Every Single Game We Play Like That Episode Of The Simpsons Where Homer Becomes A Food Critic.”  Sadly, because choosing sides is not allowed, team TOXLIGRWDGTTUTESGWPLTEOTSWHBAFC was not to be.

Either way, we started with a random team-death match and things were immediately fast paced and very fun.   Upon spawning, you choose which of three character classes you want to be.  You can be the Striker, who moves swiftly and has a sniper rifle.  There’s the Destroyer, who moves slower but seems to have more armor, or the Grunt if you’re an indecisive douchenozzle.  Since it became apparent that accuracy in shooting was not going to be my specialty in Take Arms, I chose the Destroyer and focused on scoring beatdowns.  This strategy proved effective, and I admit that I had a blast running around, never firing my gun but beating people down with the butt of it, like a very confused pacifist.

Unfortunately, barely a minute of action went by where someone wasn’t screwed over by a glitch.  Most of this had to do with networking issues.  Bullets would pass right through people.  Grenades would explode right under people’s feet and do nothing.  Beatdowns sometimes proved impossible to score, leading to two people swinging at each other for nearly minute like they’re trying to recreate some kind of Waltz.

From a design perspective, there’s a few things that are off.  I think the inclusion of sandbags and various other chest-high objects are wasteful.  I played in multiple matches and nobody besides the snipers made use of these.  This game lends itself more to running and gunning, not ducking and patience.  And also, I was called a cunt on more than one occasion for my use of spawn killing in team matches.  Sorry losers, but it’s just how I’m wired.  I’m like an animal that’s preprogrammed with a nesting instinct and the desire to eat my own young, only I have a bad sense of where home is.

Ultimately, the only thing that matters on recommending a game at IndieGamerChick.com is whether or not I had fun playing it.  And you know what?  I did have fun.  I had a lot of fun.  Everyone I played with did.  Hell, I had so much fun that this review got delayed twice because I needed to, ahem, “playtest it some more.”  Yea, that’s the ticket.  And even with all the glitches, it’s one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had playing an Xbox Live Indie Game.  When eight players are running for flags or dropping from higher platforms onto a passerby like they’re Batman, Take Arms is brilliant, and pie-in-the-eye of all those lazy bastards who say online multiplayer doesn’t make a difference in how enjoyable a game is.  Oh I would say it makes a big difference.

Developer Discord Games has laid the groundwork for something with the potential to be extraordinary.  It’s not quite there yet, but Discord is continuing to patch things and I’ll be keeping a close eye on the progress.  I don’t think one Second Chance with the Chick will be enough, because Take Arms has more issues than National Geographic.  Oh darn, you mean I have to play more Take Arms?  Gee, that’s um, a crying shame or something.  *tee-hee*

Take Arms was developed by Discord Games

240 Microsoft Points say “better being a talentless cunt than a lame ass newb who keeps getting beat down and tea-bagged by a talentless cunt” in the making of this review.

A review copy of Take Arms was provided by Discord Games to IndieGamerChick.com in this review.  The copy played by the Chick was purchased by her with her own Microsoft Points.  The review copy was given to a friend with the sole purpose of helping the Chick test online multiplayer.  That person had no feedback in this article.  For more information on this policy, please read the Developer Support page here

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12 Responses to Take Arms

  1. *sigh* Those saying they see reasons not to add online multiplayer to some games aren’t saying that online multiplayer doesn’t add anything. We’re just saying that for some games it’s more hassle than it’s worth. Some games are going to be more geared toward online multiplayer, such as this one and ZP2KX, and it would be silly not to have it. I’ve pushed for online multiplayer in some games myself where it would be a good fit (check out QuadSmash, where I had so much fun with the local multiplayer I bugged the crap out of the dev to put in online multiplayer).

    But for a game that take 200 hours to develop, 10 of which was adding local multiplayer (because sometimes it can be that easy), does it make sense to spend another 300 hours to add in online multiplayer if the game would only modestly benefit from it? Take Cute Things Dying Violently as an example (not to say I have any idea how long it took to make). It only has local multiplayer. Should he have spent another 300 hours adding online multiplayer to the game, even though the multiplayer mode is only a small portion of the game?

    My point: sometimes you’re right, and online multiplayer is needed. But for other games it would be silly to add it. And sometimes, for the developer, it’s hard to tell if you’re in one camp or the other and with the overhead needed it’s easy to default to “not adding it”.

    • Dcon6393 says:

      For some games it is silly to add online. Cute Things Dying Violently is a good example because I really did not even expect the offline multiplayer, that was just a bonus to a single player game. Now when you have games like VideoWars that are focused on multiplayer, online multiplayer is a must to make the best game possible.

      I don’t think she, or anyone else, ever said that online was needed for all games, just in games where multiplayer is a big focus. What if Take Arms had no online multiplayer? I don’t think anyone has a problem with a single player focused game leaving out multiplayer.

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  4. Xband worked just fine. Check YouTube for some clips of the service from back in the day.

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