The Respawnables was enjoying a limited release in Canada leading up to its global roll-out this weekend. I’ve been playing for the last week or two, and have really enjoyed the third-person-shooter's cartoony style, straightforward controls, and rich selection of unlockables.
The controls are extremely simple and easy to to use. There’s a standard dual-joystick set-up, where the left-side joystick moves the player and panning anywhere on the right side changes the camera angle. The firing button can be moved while being held down to adjust aim, though there are two alternative controls schemes available in the options, including a Y axis inversion toggle and a sensitivity slider. Aside from that, the only other distractions are the reload and grenade buttons - no jump, no duck, no iron sights. For the third-person shooter style, this is perfectly fine, though there are on occasions where you'll be frustrated by very small ledges that seem like you should be able to hop over.
The single-player game is currently not much more than a three-minute deathmatch where players try to fulfill up to three challenges. There are longer-term achievements to earn as well. Of course, you also earn experience points and cash along the way, which allow you to kit out your character with new pants, tops, hairdos, perks, and weapons. Those first three might sound like complete vanity items, but not so - a little known fact of modern warfare is that a flat-top cut can actually improve your accuracy. There are also consumables, such as explosives and boosts to cash and experience point gain.
My only serious complaint about progression is that many of the unlockables are hidden behind the premium gold currency. It’s not that this isn’t unexpected (especially from a Zynga game), it’s just that the push towards in-app purchases is a little more steep than I would like. Some of the perks are unlocked exclusively through the premium currency, which give those that pay a decided advantage online. Many of the higher-powered pieces of equipment also require premium currency, with no option to buy them with the regularly-earned in-game cash.
It’s generally easy enough to find multiplayer games (despite my poor luck in the video). Even with the fairly simple controls, there’s a significant amount of challenge. Sniper rifles feel a tad on the overpowered side right now, though it’s still early in the game’s launch and I suspect plenty of tweaks will be made in short order. By the same token, I’m sure sooner than later we’ll see more than free-for-all and team battle game modes. One vital feature that The Respawnables will need to stay viable is social tools, even if they’re just Game Center plug-ins. Friending other players and chatting with them privately is hugely important to multiplayer gaming on mobile and elsewhere.
The visuals in The Respawnables are flawless. Players are exaggerated, animated, full of character and color, and despite the violent nature of the game, there’s no gore anywhere. On the audio side, I felt the sound effects were a little muffled and repetitive, but the music is top-notch and gets you right into the action movie feeling.
The Respawnables is a colorful, accessible, action-packed romp. The simple controls, bright style, and wide array of unlockable items makes for a really enjoyable experience, though the balance feels a little too heavily tilted towards getting people to make in-app purchases. I trust that a wider range of items that you can buy with in-game cash rather than premium gold will make things a little bit easier (even if the cash item equivalents aren’t unlocked until later). I’m looking forward to more multiplayer game modes and social options once The Respawnables hits the U.S., but even until then, I’ve got a really nice laid-back alternative to Modern Combat 4.