Things didn’t start off promising for Take Arms by Discord Games. Originally slated to release in the middle of the Indie Games Summer Uprising event, the game was delayed to fix some last-minute issues. Indie games, particularly on the Xbox 360, already face an uphill battle in terms of gaining recognition and support. The short delay was well worth it as the developer has given us a multiplayer shooter worth recommending to your friends.
There are no frills to Take Arms. Simply put it’s a 2D shooter with a heavy focus on multiplayer. A lot of people are calling it a 2D Counterstrike. There are no introductions, tutorials, or help of any kind which is a bit of a disappointment. It’s up to you to figure out that the game has three different player classes to choose from, each with their perks and weaknesses in terms of speed, toughness, and weapons. An explanation of the button layout can be accessed from the menu system. Even though it’s on you to figure out the nuances of the game, it’s far less imposing than jumping into more mainstream series like Call of Duty or Battlefield. That’s something a novice like me can both appreciate and commend.
The game does include solo play vs. bots which is a nice way of getting yourself acquainted with the controls and the three available maps. Movement is controlled with the left analog stick while your aim is controlled with the right. It can take a little while to get used to running and gunning, or learning how to lob grenades at the proper angle to not get yourself killed. I found that within an hour of playing, though, I had a pretty good handle on what it took to become a respectable killing machine. Certain information, like how to switch to a first-person sniper view, was only obtained by going to the developer forums. Even though it helps to have the twitch reflexes of a seasoned gamer, I feel like this is the kind of title that’s accessible to a broader audience than what you’d find with a traditional shooter.
What the game lacks in presentation, it more than makes up for in multiplayer entertainment. There are a total of three modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag. While it can be a little difficult at times trying to find a game of a particular type to play in, you can usually find someone willing to play a little Deathmatch pretty quickly. I never had to wait more than a minute or two as long as I didn’t restrict myself to one game type. It’s this ability to quickly get into a game – and out should you so choose – that really won me over. Personally I’m not interested in waiting ten minutes for a game to start and playing for hours at a time. I want to get in, have some fun, and get out. Take Arms is tailored for just that kind of experience. For those of you only interested in playing with friends or clans, there’s also an option to create private matches.
Another element that I love about shooters is stat-tracking. While Take Arms doesn’t boast the kind of numbers and factoids you’ll find in blockbuster shooters coming from major publishers, anyone interested in their performance will appreciate what Discord Games has provided. You’ll get standards like kill-to-death ratio and accuracy stats, as well as information on how often you play each player type. There’s even a leveling system as you earn XP, but I haven’t found any purpose to it so far other than bragging rights and knowing which players are probably going to be tougher to beat.
I was genuinely surprised by Take Arms. Even though I used to play the occasional fast-paced, short-burst 3D shooters, I wasn’t really expecting to be won over by a title that had trouble even getting out of the gate. Giving the trial a go showed me that the mechanics were solid and the game ran smoothly. Playing a few rounds of Capture the Flag with a large group of live people ended up being some of the most pure, frenetic joy that I’ve had in awhile on the 360. Knowing that the developer intends to support the game with patches and updates only gives me more reason to recommend it. While I wish that there was some kind of tutorial or help system within the game, it’s only one knock against what’s otherwise a fun new title in the Indie Marketplace. For more information about the game, check out discordgames.com.
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