Review: Lawbreakers (PS4)

Review: Lawbreakers (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Lawbreakers
Format: PSN (12.35 GB)
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Nexon America
Developer: Boss Key Productions
Original MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 537 of the podcast at 91:27.
PS Nation Episode 537 – Joshless and Drakeless

Gameplay:
Lawbreakers is a new team based competitive shooter that hopes to find its niche in a crowded scene alongside games like Overwatch and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS occupying the gaming world’s attention. What separates this one from other shooters on the market is the game’s verticality thanks to its agile characters and maps with zero gravity elements.

With nine different character classes, the game features a nice variety to choose from in terms of play styles. Each class has different weapons, mobility styles, and special abilities. For example there’s the Vanguard class that features a jetpack and a gatling gun or there’s the Gunslinger class that can teleport short distances and wields two different weapons.

Each feels radically different from each other, but despite the variety and team focused modes I don’t find that a “perfect” team composition is required for success. Matches tend to feel like everyone is playing as an individual and one great player can completely dominate a match so while teamwork would be helpful it isn’t a must.

The gameplay is fast and often chaotic. There’s no health regeneration and maps have a lot of layers to them that allow for verticality and danger to lurk around every corner. They’re evenly made with no map presenting any distinct advantage for one side or the other.

The major distinction the game tries to make for itself is its speed. Every character has their own method of travel, be it a jetpack, run boost, or teleportation. Each map has a section dedicated to zero gravity and the game can feel chaotic with players flying all over the place. It isn’t crazy fast paced and I was kind of shocked since I was expecting Call of Duty levels of twitch. The game is fast, but not overwhelmingly so.

Currently there are five modes and this is where things break down for me. It’s not the number of them but how they actually play. Uplink involves bringing an uplink to your base and waiting for it to reach 100% which feels awfully similar to Overcharge which involves bringing a battery to your base and charging that to 100%. They’re okay and can be fun, but nothing about them feels unique so playing them back to back can be tiring.

This is also an issue with Turf War and Occupy which are both variations on the traditional King of the Hill modes from other games. In Turf War there are three spots to capture per round and first team to sixteen wins. In Occupy there’s a rotating spot that each team fights over and the first team to earn two hundred points from occupying those spots wins. Again, this is the same issue where the modes feel pretty redundant.

The one mode that feels somewhat unique is Blitzball. In this one there’s a ball that teams fight over and they must score eight times to win. This mode is awesome and by far my favorite thing about the game. It’s a perfect showcase for the game’s speed and verticality. The dashes for the ball and the intensity when trying to score are fantastic and require full use of a character’s special abilities.

Sadly, you can’t just choose your favorite mode and play online as the game only has two options right now, Quick Match and Custom Game. Custom Game can only be made for your friends and Quick Match is only a rotation of all the modes so you just have to hope to connect to a server ready for your mode.

I know I’ve probably sounded mostly down on Lawbreakers but the one saving grace for the game is the actual shooting – it’s great. It’s the one aspect of the game I can enjoy fully. So while the gunplay is excellent the modes are lacking and the team play doesn’t feel vital despite being a team focused shooter. I just want to play Blitzball and I can’t as much as I want to because of how things are currently set up.

There isn’t even much to strive for in terms of unlocks or progression. There are no guns to unlock so leveling up only rewards you with loot that’s purely cosmetic and lackluster mostly due to the somewhat bland character designs.

Visuals:
From a technical standpoint the visuals are fine. The game had a rough launch, but since then it has been smooth sailing. The framerate has been solid with the only spikes happening on when online play lags.

From a character design aspect, I think the game looks somewhat generic. I don’t find the designs to be all that interesting as no one character has a design that catches my eye and I honestly have a hard time distinguishing between them during the action.

This plays a major factor in why I think the loot situation is lackluster. All the loot is for cosmetic purposes and if the character designs are not interesting then the loot will suffer. So if it wasn’t for the gameplay I don’t think there would be much reason to come back to Lawbreakers since the only thing to achieve is more loot.

Audio:
The music matches the art which is to say it’s fine, not great, but fine. It features some electronic and rock and is only really noticeable while in the menus.

The characters have some lines and the performances are passable though what they’re actually saying during the action is forgettable and barely audible sometimes. The one that’s very noticeable though is the ball in Blitzball because it’s voiced by Rick and Morty creator and voice actor, Justin Roiland. Throughout the map you’ll hear Roiland channel Mr. Meeseeks and encourage players to score and it’s honestly the most personality the game displays.

Online/Multiplayer:
Lawbreakers had a rough launch day but since then I’ve had very few issues playing online. The game is online only which only makes sense since it’s a team based competitive shooter.

I wish there were more options though since currently you can only do Quick Match or Custom Games for friends. This game desperately needs more options outside of having to create a private match. If they can add a server browser or allow players to go into specific modes through matchmaking that would make a lot of people happy.

Conclusion:
Lawbreakers doesn’t feel like a complete product sometimes. There’s a solid foundation with the gameplay, it just lacks the content. I want to like the game more but choices like the limited options for modes and the modes themselves just get in the way.

Add that to the subpar character designs and weak cosmetic loot and it’s a tough sell. I enjoyed playing the game, but I don’t see myself sticking with it like I have with other shooters currently in the market.

If the developers remain committed and continue to iterate and make changes then this could turn into something special. The core mechanics are there, it just needs a little bit more work.

Score:
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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