Review – The TakeOver (Switch)
Whenever you see The TakeOver in action through pictures or videos, you can clearly see its main source of inspiration. Not only that, but said source of inspiration has just released a brand new iteration with Streets of Rage 4. Seeing how so well-received SoR4 was, this is the perfect time to being The TakeOver to Switch, giving players more of that great side-scrolling beat ’em up action.
The TakeOver is set up fairly loosely when main characters Ethan and Megan’s daughter gets kidnapped. They then ask their massive tank of a friend and fellow military partner, Connor, to come along for the fight. So ensues your quest of fighting through groups of enemies to rescue the main characters’ daughter. It’s a simple setup, but one that works well enough to get you punching people in the face. Let’s be honest here, nobody is playing beat ’em ups for their plot. Luckily, The TakeOver is no slouch in the pulverizing-thugs-skulls-in category.
Like most beat ’em ups, The TakeOver is a 2D side-scroller, but it does a couple things differently with its gameplay. It features your typical punch, kick, jump, grab, and special move variants like most, but the combos you can do help set it apart. Using various directional inputs with your attacks will set up combos, which then leads to juggling enemies. If you time you attack patterns correctly, you can take out an enemy with a single combo and they’ll never hit the ground.
Of course, each character has his/her own unique move sets, animations, and combos and it was really fun trying out each of their moves. Another new addition to The TakeOver is that each character has a signature weapon that can be used at any given time. Ethan has a Colt .45, Connor has a pump shotgun, and Megan has a massive .357 Magnum. They have limited ammo, but more can be found throughout the levels.
Along with the guns, there is a special meter which will rain down a missile strike in your current frame. There is also a Rage meter that, when activated, will momentarily increase your attack and defense stats. It will also provide characters will extra abilities. For instance, while in Rage mode, Connor will block all incoming normal strikes. The extra help doesn’t stop here, since you’ll also be able to wield various limited use weapons, like a katana or a machine gun.
While most of the extra attacks feel balanced, I did feel like the katana and other found weapons were a bit too powerful. Unlike other beat ’em ups, the random weapons don’t break after a certain amount. Instead, they will only disappear after they have been knocked out of your hand three times. I was able to go through multiple levels with a single katana as it was so easy to take out enemies before they got close enough to hit me. With these weapons, your guns, power moves, and a Rage meter, The TakeOver at times can feel a bit too easy.
To mix up the action a bit, there are some missions that are in there for some arcade fun. These feature car chases with big jumps, an entire level where you have unlimited machine gun ammo taking out monsters, and even one where you command a jet, obviously inspired by AfterBurner. The car and flying missions were fun and surprised me a lot, even if they were a little janky and the controls weren’t that great.
Visuals are an interesting mix of styles with the cutscenes featuring a very stylized comic book feel, while the in-game graphics had a grittier and more detailed look. The models and environments have a shiny look, almost as if they were action figures. These 3D looking models have a somewhat cel-shaded outline to them that fits the 2D environments well. There are some nice visual effects and lighting throughout the levels as well.
Combat does have a bit of a choppy look, which pays homage to the old school ways, but I was hoping it would be smoother to go along with the more crisp visuals. Also, another issue is the enemy designs can become a bit repetitive. That’s not to say there isn’t new variety in each chapter, but most “new” baddies were just reskins of previously introduced enemies.
The sound design is a bit of a mixed bag. The cutscenes featured wooden voice acting, the type you would expect from a B-movie. Also, the various sound effects within the combat and certain weapons seem low quality or just sound strange. However, the soundtrack is great and it makes up for the lower quality sound design. Plenty of fast beat electronic music, as well as some metal, and even a song from the legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro. The soundtrack kept the momentum and the game’s insane intensity going.
The TakeOver is a really great salute to the old school beat ’em up genre, and if you enjoyed Streets of Rage 4, then I totally recommend you picking this one up. While it may not nail everything it’s going for, and could use some polish and additional work here and there, the new ideas it brings are more than welcome. It’s easy to overlook its handful of shortcomings due to its excellent moment-to-moment gameplay.
A bold look of 3D models in a 2D setting with even a little bit of cel-shading. There is a distinct look and I like it, although I do wish there were better animations and enemy variety.
Old school beat ’em up side scroller gameplay that rivals the best of the genre. However, a few annoyances hold it back from greatness.
The soundtrack is fantastic with plenty of fast beat metal tracks that will get you in the fighting mood. However, voice acting and various sound effects don’t match the soundtrack quality.
Fairly short arcade/story mode with three main characters to choose from. You can unlock more characters, play timed trials or play some co-op to pad the time, but there isn’t much here to keep you past the average story.
Final Verdict: 7.5
The TakeOver is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, Linux.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of The TakeOver was provided by the publisher.