Livelock is a cooperative top-down shooter taking place in a world of pure chaos and war between machines. You are one of the remaining Capital Intellects, with the option to control one of the three mechanical chassis (Hex, Vanguard, or Catalyst). Take back the world and revive the human race. With the help of publisher Perfect World Entertainment, a company known for its library of popular free-to-play MMO games like Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, developer Tuque Games brings an addicting and exciting gaming experience.
Co-created by Daniel H. Wilson, author of 2011's Robopocalypse, the story ventures into science fiction cliches but with an actually interesting execution. The human race, withered down by gamma rays, learned of a Cataclysm event due to hit Earth 10 years after. In an attempt to evolve and maintain the human race, the plan to upload conscious minds into machines became the best option. Three were chosen to go first; a scientist, a cyber athlete, and a trained soldier (the three protagonists).
After having success, the human race began mass uploads to the "Mainline Network," and was split up between three data banks in Moscow, Tokyo, and New York. A super AI known as SATCOM was sent into outer space and was programmed to do whatever it took to repair the human race when safely possible. When the Cataclysm arrives, wiping out the world as it was supposed to do, it also caused corrupted data in these memory banks. Machines ran rampant around the surface, carrying out nothing but war and chaos. SATCOM, searching through the constant rubble, brought back the three originals to restore order and revive the human race. This is where the game begins.
The game doesn't stray too far from other top-down shooter games; You move through the pathway styled environments, killing any and everything that comes in your way, collecting pickups, and progressively leveling up your character(s). You are given 5 character slots, allowing one of each and 2 others of your favorite, or any other possible variation of combination you want. After selecting a protagonist to play as, you can either jump into campaign mode consisting of about 20 missions, or you can test your skills in a survival/horde mode. Both of which can be played in private, public, or offline matches co-op or solo.
Each character is given a starting weapon, an ability to melee attack, and dodge roll. As you progress them along a 30 level possible skill bar, you'll unlock passive abilities and additional weapons. The weapons possible is a surprising amount, a couple dozen or so. They can be upgraded to increase damage, reload speed, etc. The game has no form of loot or dropped items, and, at first, this was disappointing to learn, but I actually found I liked the way the developers designed this. You can play on three difficulties: Autonomous (easy), Emergent (normal), and Singular (hard).
As mentioned before, the map layouts are pretty standard pathway designed but offer open space throughout in order to circle enemies, hide behind structures for defense, or just simply line them up and unleash hell on them at once. You'll find pickups here and there for basic stuff (health, shield, currency, etc.). But if using the characters and the special abilities efficiently, you'll find that you can make quick work of the enemies most of the time. The mini-objectives that you'll come across will be escorting, defending a console, or defeating a much larger and stronger machine.
Enemies are robotic but have a great variety to them. Some are designed to look like bugs and dogs, while others may look like standard robot people and sentinels. If they are smaller in size, you can count on there being a big pack of them running and gunning together, while occasionally you'll run into a big brute of a walker or robot soldier who, even though will have minions annoying you, will be all you see on the screen due to the threatening presence they bring to the field of combat.
The world is your playpen when it comes to not feeling confined. Although the game runs in a general pathway design, you'll find it common to bash through walls and structures in pursuit of your next enemy, pushing the amount of restriction out of the equation. Your weapons can be used to shoot away obstacles or structures, and although they reach a great distance across the map this won't be needed much. The evasiveness and general combat skills you'll learn will mostly, if not all the time, be carried out in close range encounters.
It's up for debate which one of the two is better in comparison as they both are extremely well done. The sound of space rifles, shotguns, and missiles shredding through enemy armor, and the metal scrapping of the vicious melee attacks all keep the intensity high. The game is meant to have a barrage of enemy fire always heading in your direction, but lucky enough, their weapons and attacks never drown out the rest of the environments or yourself. You can almost sense which direction the enemy will be coming from simply from listening to their heavy stomping or mechanical growls.
Even environmental destruction of walls, cars, and concrete roads sound great. The voices will be difficult to fully comprehend due to strong robotic voices but you'll have subtitles to read (this is not a bad thing though and I'll explain why). The 3 protagonists have unique personalities that show through their voices, but the best part of voices come with the enemy. Within the first 5 minutes of the campaign mode, you'll feel the sense of pure tyrannical strength as you listen to a message from what sounds like a close relative of Megatron.
The graphics are a huge factor in the game feeling like a living and breathing world. When crashing through a wall or simply just blowing holes into the ground, the environment explodes and fall accordingly. You'll see the shadows from falling chunks of environment, enemies, buildings, and yourself. No matter how much is going on within your screen, the details of lighting and shadows stay strong.
The character models are sharp and crisp whether in the game or in the menu, and the enemies are no different. Weapon engagements light up the screen like New Years does the dark sky with bright glowing neon colors. Each character has a color scheme (Hex, Vanguard, and catalysts). Their weapons and the ammo flying from within will always be extensions of these colors.
Livelock is a much-appreciated title after feeling the top-down shooter genre becoming borderline stale and overused. It takes the best parts of them and crafts it into an enjoyable experience, with a worthy story to match. The combat is addicting, especially when played with friends or randoms online, and the amount of diversity available when it comes to class setup makes every session feel fresh. The game is not without its technical flaws, but I'm sure greater optimization and patches can resolve this in time. If you enjoy Diablo 3, I found this to be the closest thing to it currently.
|+ Interesting story worth paying attention to||– Occasional screen tearing and lag|
|+ Fun and somewhat memorable characters||– Simple character progression|
|+ Bright vivid colors of combat||– No looting or end-game progression|
|+ Co-op is extremely addicting|