The Showdown Effect preview
In the Cambrian explosion of the Quake and Half-Life mod scene, many great game genres were born, survived and thrived - Team Fortress, Counter Strike, Day of Defeat. One of the few that failed to generate offspring, without quite dying, was Action: Quake II, a rapid, silly, pulp movie of a game, with ludicrous moves and all the tricks of a Hong Kong action movie.
The Showdown Effect is a crossbreed between Action: Half Life and Shadow Complex. Up to eight players enter a 2D side-scrolling action area, and battle it out. Their weapons are the standard tropes of 1980s action movies - uzis, Mac-10s, berettas, M16s, rocket launchers and their quips. (The team do plan to introduce stranger weapons, like laser guns and guided rockets later).
The game is extremely fast, with players running around the level and bouncing themselves off walls and doors in their rush to get the best weapons. Players can also slide, roll and generally have the uncanny athleticism displayed only by large middle-aged men in action movies. In the Neo-Tokyo level we saw (each setting, like Neo-Tokyo, will have multiple levels), they were free-running around an apartment block that seemed familiar from Hong Kong Hustle.
There are many guns lying around, but as these use up ammo quickly, almost every incidental object can also be used as a weapon, with its own lethality and uses. "We don't want you to pick up more ammo for a gun, we want you to throw it at the other person, and pick up a bar stool... it's important that you don't feel like you did this to get points, but did it because it felt right at the time." Beating a John Woo analogue to death with a broom will be deeply satisfying...
Given the fragility of their heroes, every player has a defense that can be activated and allows them to dodge incoming bullets - whether that's backflipping or just windmilling their arms, the bullets won't hit them as long as their meter has juice. The superb effects for these moves and the weapons are reminiscent of anime - and the developers cite Ghost in the Shell as one of their key influences for the look.
Each character, who mostly seem to be parodies of action characters, with names like The Stone Identity, will have its own personality and quips, and will be able to progress longterm in the game. Using these one-liners at the right moment is also important; these give you bonuses to certain actions. Sadly, they weren't implemented in the version we played, as the voice-acting hasn't been done yet. Beyond the simple Last Man Standing mode we saw, the team are planning various team modes, but none were available for us to play.
The Showdown Effect is looking like a light, fast lunch break game, throwaway and funny. Paradox are planning to release it in Q3 2013.