Electronic Mac & Cheese
HIGH It knows what it wants to do and does it well.
LOW The ending was an utter disappointment.
WTF Why don’t other games have escort missions this good?
If you ask me, videogame comfort food is a thing. These are titles that don’t need to be fancy or innovative, they just need to be good at what they do and deliver the experience that a prospective diner expects. As a top-down, third-person shooter, Livelock doesn’t bring anything mindblowing to the table, but it checks off all the right boxes, and does it with heart. It’s electronic macaroni and cheese to be sure, but it’s served up just right.
Livelock’s premise is that a calamity has befallen Earth, and all organic life has perished. However, an artificial intelligence in orbit has revived three robot bodies instilled with human consciousness and charged them with bringing squishy life back to the planet. Of course, this is done by shooting everything that moves, and a lot of things that don’t.
In terms of structure and design, Livelock plays much like any other in the genre does, but adds nice touches and details that enhance the experience.
Graphically, it’s quite good. The player can choose from three different types of robots (gunner, melee or support) and their designs are both cool-looking and somewhat customizable after finding gear scattered throughout the game. The ruined levels the robots go through are just as good – remnants of humanity are everywhere, and it’s subtle, but the robots are actually much bigger than people. Seeing one occasionally kick a rusted car out of the way was neat.
Each robot has a customizable loadout of weapons, abilities, and super attacks. Although there’s not a huge variety, each handles differently and every level of experience unlocks a new mod. It gives players something to looking forward to, and keeps the gameplay feeling fresh for the length of the campaign.
When getting down to business and wading into enemies who want to keep the world covered in metal, Livelock comes off as quick and arcadey. Each level is crafted (not randomly generated) and a variety of objectives pop up. Sometimes the player will have to guard a certain point, sometimes all that’s needed is to reach the end, sometimes it’s about taking out a number of objects, and so on. This constant change-up was a smart move, as this genre can get stale in a hurry without enough spice.
It was also a nice surprise to find that Livelock offers the best escort mission ever created. Rather than babysitting morons who walk into the line of fire, the object being escorted moves forward on its own and has a healing field surrounding it. As long as the player is doing a half-decent job of shooting, they’ll power through with no problem. They can even be healed by the object’s field. It’s brilliant, and not painful in the least.
It’s also great that the developers include plenty of brief cutscenes in the story. The narrative is basic and straightforward, but I appreciated that they took the time to make the campaign worth playing through, and there’s just enough to keep it interesting until the end. With that said, they fumble on a catastrophic level when it comes time to wrap things up – the ending is absolutely godawful, but it’s the only bad thing about the experience overall.
In terms of multiplayer, up to three prople can go through Livelock together, and the classes complement each other nicely. Unfortunately, co-op is online only (no couch co-op here) which was a bit of a disappointment, but it’s easy to connect with a friend who has a copy of the game, and playing with a pal increases enjoyment by the appropriate amount. it’s solid.
I certainly don’t mean to damn Livelock with faint praise — it sets achievable goals for itself, it succeeds at them, and does so with care and attention. That’s a hell of a lot more than some games manage, and I want to recognize it. Livelock isn’t a title that’s going to move its genre forward, but it is a great example of the genre it’s representing. Anyone who enjoys this brand of action will find spending time with this metallic trio of saviors to be worthwhile.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Tuque Games and published by Perfect World Entertainment. It is currently available on PS4, XBO and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the campaign, and the game was completed. All 8 hours of play were spent in online multiplayer mode.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Fantasy Violence and Mild Language. The action here is robots shooting robots – pretty sterile and bloodless. As for the language, I can’t even recall it. Overall, super safe.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Dialogue is subtitled and there are no auditory cues needed for play. Totally accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
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