With the successes of Double Fine’s unnamed adventure game and Wasteland 2, Kickstarter is the current darling of the independent gaming community and ‘crowdsourcing’ the hot new buzzword being thrown around by insufferable energetic web 2.0 conmen. Kickstarter hasn’t always been a success though, my favourite unfunded project being the criminals who developed Tony Hawk Ride failing to fund some marble madness clone they wanted to inflict on us. If only the same could be said about smug upstart Serellan’s lame sounding tactical shooter TAKEDOWN.
Takedown (I’m not typing it in all caps anymore, fuck that) promises to deliver an ‘old-school’, ‘hardcore’ tactical shooter, along the lines of the early Rainbow Six games. The first red flag should be that this promise is coming to us from the Christian Allen, director of Halo: Reach, a game diametrically opposed to the one he is now making. He also uses his time spent in the marine corp as part of his credentials, which is a bit like me being a wine critic after my time spent labouring on a vineyard. The other red flags are scattered all throughout the product description on Kickstarter.
I was going to list them all, but I can’t be bothered, so here’s a badly punctuated ramble instead: They’ve sold the character squad mates to donors, so prepare to have your team of elite murderers look like acne ridden, neck bearded derpsters, unfit to hold a gun. They’re turning a first person game into a third person one for the console port, but then leaving the other console port up to player feedback. The mind boggles how their hardcore, realistic gunplay will adapt to an entirely different perspective from a radically different controller input. Despite this radical alteration to the entire gameplay dynamic for what will no doubt be inferior versions of the product, Mac and Linux ports, requiring only the most minor of coding alterations, are ‘under evaluation based on demand’ which is code for ‘not happening, but we’d like your money first.’ They bash the premise of current popular shooters Call of Duty and Battlefield only to, seconds later, turn around and call them ‘great games’. This kind of behaviour reeks of arse-licking, desperate for money. They already have funding from venture capitalists, but are asking for a spare $200,000 from Kickstarter just to use the site to drum up promotion. They claim they’re using it to prove to their backers that a market exists for a shooting game (really?) but really they just wanted 5000 pre-sales, which really isn’t much in the context of a game that would ordinarily have to shift a few hundred thousand copies to turn a profit. They’re being vague as fuck about what the game is actually about, already you can see on their own forums people having wildly different demands and expectations of what they want from this game. Oh and it’s those people, who wouldn’t have ever heard the word ‘ludology’ let along grasp the concepts, they’ve invited into the design consultation process. No doubt a more thorough design document exists out there but they know that if specifics were known now, they’d have even less interest than the 5000 misguided fools who’ve already reserved their copies. But these aren’t even my biggest problem with the game.
My biggest problem with the game is that it’s another way too serious shooting game. I’ve always been a lover, not a fighter, so the glorification of war and violence in video games has never sit too well with me. I can come around usually because I’m fighting for freedom or saving the world or some other altruistic purpose, or sometimes the game is so outrageously goofy you’re obviously not meant to take it seriously to begin with (eg. DOOM, Goldeneye 007 etc.). Even the earlier Call of Duty games had an ominous tone and underpinning philosophy that war is most tragic waste of life and resources we’ve ever created. That’s why I enjoyed the early ones and not the fist bumping, ammo passing, snow mobile racing, Eminem rapping iterations of late. Takedown though has you fighting for a private military corporation. That’s right, you’re not even fighting for ideals anymore, you’re fighting for money. PMCs make a profit out of violence, war and political instability. They run war like a business and are as ethically bankrupt as every other corporation. Takedown wants to celebrate them, putting you in the shoes of a PMC contractor, murdering his way to a new plasma TV. I’m being presumptuous about the content of a game that isn’t even made yet, it could be a satirical commentary on PMCs by giving you outrageously disgusting missions like assassinating influential members of Greenpeace or Palestinian children, but I heard the word ‘hardcore’ uttered enough times in their embarrassing promotional video that I’m confident this will not be the case.
Tragically, their dream, my nightmare, will be realised after a late rally saw Takedown raises thirty five thousand american dollars in eight hours. Not even the finest prostitutes can charge generate that kind of cash-flow. I was going to post this article last night, predicting they wouldn’t reach their target and how it would be a great moment for gaming, but I was worried that any mention of the game, no matter how derogatory on a site with as little traffic as ours could drum up unwarranted attention and increase their chances of success, so I held back. Yes it’s true that I’m bitter and evil for wishing ill on people I’ll never know, who’s success won’t affect me in the slightest but I’m just an arsehole like that. No fuck that, I’m not the one promoting the commercialism of war and asking others to fund my efforts to do so. I’m a saint.