Brawlers are making a comeback, and we’re all the more thrilled for it. Nothing beats getting into an old-school fight with an unstoppable army and letting loose with the kind of attacks that make you feel invincible, even for a brief nano-second or two. As if Fight n’ Rage and other indie favorites didn’t push this genre to new heights, Streets of Rage recently came back for a fourth round, and an impressive one at that.
Now we have The Takeover, which makes its arrival on PlayStation 4 (and PlayStation 5) courtesy of the developers at Pelikan13. It doesn’t sound like anything painstakingly original, and, plot-wise, it really isn’t. Essentially, a trio of heavy hitters set to take back the city from a dangerous criminal force, armed to the teeth with weapons. But the beauty of the game is in its design. This isn’t your typical brawler; and, as such, this Takeover thrives as a result.
The game lets you choose between a femme fatale, a former soldier with hulking muscles, or a typical kid with strength and speed to his credit. From there, you set out to beat up thugs with punches and kicks, while also being able to use a firearm with a limited amount of bullets, should the situation get a little sticky. Along the way, you’ll be able to pick up items, including point boosting bonuses, much-needed health and more ammunition.
In typical beat-em-up fashion, The Takeover also lets you store up energy for super attacks. Activate Rage, for example, and you can beat up thugs with much more power, taking them down easier for a limited amount of time. You can also unleash a special attack that clears the screen with fireballs, Golden Axe style.
However where The Takeover differs is with its style of combos. You can mix up punches and kicks quite nicely here to form a number of awesome techniques, as well as grab maneuvers that can deliver additional damage. As a result, the game is far more creative than your usual brawler, and a lot of fun to play. You can also add a friend to the mix in two-player co-op, though the game doesn’t have any sort of online play, sadly. (Maybe with a future patch…)
There’s also some great bonus stages involving vehicles that let you blast opponents off the road, offering some diversity to the usual beat-em-up tactics. These feel like a tribute to the Sega days of old, and it’s great playing through them, as brief as they may be.
Pelikan13 also did a bang-up job with The Takeover’s visuals. Though everything is in 3D, it’s represented nicely with a smooth frame rate, lots of slick looking battle visuals and great stage design. The character design is a bit overshadowy in some places, and a bit bland with some enemies, but overall the game’s a real looker, even without the 2D sprites. I also like some of the super effects, which really shine.
The soundtrack is also excellent. That’s thanks to a number of contributing artists, including Streets of Rage legend Yuzo Koshiro (whose contribution is sweet) and hard-rock cover artist Little V. Give it a listen, you won’t soon regret it.
While I still slightly prefer the greatness of Streets of Rage 4, The Takeover is a wonderful complementary title that goes right alongside it. For twenty bucks, you get some awesome beat-em-up action for you and a friend to enjoy, along with some great bonus stages and challenges to overcome. It’s another great entry in the beat-em-up genre, and one that’s sure to, ahem, take over our free time.
RATING: 8.5 (out of 10)