hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Showdown Effect

The Showdown Effect scratches that '90s multiplayer itch

6:00 PM on 02.08.2013 // Fraser Brown

With '80s icons and violence

I was sliding across the floor -- or more precisely, my dapper, gentleman cyborg warrior was sliding across the floor -- though I wasn't sure why exactly. The reasons didn't matter, as sliding is simply fun. I slid right through a door, and started to fire round after round from my oversized hand-gun. Yippee kay-yay mother-- I was sliced in half by a sunglasses-wearing monk wielding an energy blade before I could finish my battle roar.

The Showdown Effect is immensely silly. It's a smorgasbord of '80s tropes from cringe-inducing one liners and larger-than-life caricatures, to sanguine gore and flashy violence. That analysis is merely surface-deep, however.

After only half an hour of deathmatch shenanigans, it became clear that this ultra-violent multiplayer deathmatch bonanza is also a precise, skill-based affair that draws from a broad pool, including Super Smash Bros. and GoldenEye, the two games that Arrowhead CEO Johan Pilestedt cited as major inspirations for the game. 

The Showdown Effect (Mac, PC)
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Released: Q1 2013
MSRP: $9.99

Playing The Showdown Effect in a room with 20 or so other journalists was an interesting experience. Being an online PC title, most folk will be playing it in their rooms on their own, only connected to other people via the witchery of the interwebs. Playing it in an auditorium, however, made me feel like I was in everyone's study, bedroom, living room, or wherever they house their PC, listening to them all yell, hoot, curse, and exclaim as they decapitated a foe with a double-bladed axe or stabbed a chap with a crucifix.

Have no doubts about it, when you are playing this online, your headset or speakers will be filled with such noises, and you'll find it hard not to revel in it. It's impossible not to just get carried away with the mayhem.

As I leaped from my perch on the level above two slowly moving foes, bringing down my massive hammer on top of them, squashing one with a satisfying splat, then dispatching the other using my pistol as I scrambled up a wall to make my escape, I kept thinking "Damn, maybe I should be taking notes." But I was far too busy enjoying myself.

Half an hour isn't really long enough to become proficient in a game that's as surprisingly nuanced as The Showdown Effect, but thankfully when you are playing against other people in the same boat, things balance out. The shouting and laughter was punctuated by questions like, "How the hell did I do that?" More than once such queries were uttered by yours truly.

I confess that I beamed with pride when I saw my score at the end of a couple of matches, more due to the sheer surprise that my luck held out. I'm not exactly good at killing stuff. It's the sort of game that gives players plenty of opportunities to pull off some really crazy moves even while they are still getting the hang of things. I got to decapitate Paradox Interactive CEO Fredrik Wester on more than one occasion, and he's demonstrably more badass than I.  

The comparisons to the N64 classic GoldenEye may seem a little odd, but the inspiration Bond's greatest videogame outing has had on The Showdown Effect is actually very significant. Levels may not be nearly as expansive as those found in the beloved shooter, but they are unexpectedly complex, and filled with interesting nooks and crannies, begging to be explored, memorized, and eventually exploited. The game goes even further by making the environments extremely interactive, from the walls that can be slid down or climbed up -- all the while shooting at enemies -- to elevators that can be used to make quick getaways.

The level of customization also harks back to titles like Smash Bros. and GoldenEye again, and Arrowhead promises a myriad of options such as one-hit kills, rocket launchers only, no extra weapons, and a whole bunch more to fine tune one's multiplayer experience. Will there be a big-head mode? I admit I forgot to ask. Next time I won't be so remiss. 

Ah yes, the weapons. The lovely, deadly, brutal weapons. Character loadouts can be selected before each match, and on top of each character's special ability, two weapons can be selected. This, however, does not mean that players are restricted to this initial choice. All over the levels are a plethora of obvious weapons from axes to hammers, as well as less obvious things like cushions, chairs, shields, and even God's own passive-aggressive weapon of choice, the crucifix.

Weapons within a particular class are all identical beyond their visuals, but each class is separated by things like their weight, speed, and damage. Some like the cushion or the chair are more defensive in nature, allowing players to block attacks and push foes back, or, indeed, off ledges. 

The player classes work similarly, in that they are all identical beyond their appearance, personalities, and their unique special ability. Johan Pilestedt explained the decision to make all characters equal. "We wanted the game to be really skill-based, like in GoldenEye when you got to choose a character. The ability that each of the characters have was originally a tech item that you could attach to each character, but instead of doing that, we thought we could just integrate that into the character and have a hero ability itself ... We didn't want to alter the game too much, but we also want you to get the feel of playing a specific hero."

The two modes shown off in the hands-on session were the Showdown mode, The Showdown Effect's take on the deathmatch mode, which had a twist with last man standing, and Team Elimination -- which I absolutely loved. Small details like the team names and team poses really added to the delightful cheesiness of the experience.

In Team Elimination, your team loses when all members are dead at the same time, and each time an individual perishes, their respawn counter increases. It made for some horribly intense moments that crescendoed in nerve-racking chases and entire teams of four stalking a solitary survivor. It reminded me of the original Die Hard, with McClane sneaking through that glass and steel tower, hunted by an army of terrorists -- and he didn't even have his shoes!

Johan's inspiration for those moments came from an unlikely source. "We took a lot of inspiration from League of Legends and DOTA when you're trying to gank somebody. You eliminate two of their team, and then they start falling back because they're out of power -- we wanted to get that chase going, and also that's inspired by '80s movies because there's always a chase."

Given the relationship between and The Showdown Effect (players will be able to stream their games at the press of a button at the start of a match), and the skill-based gameplay, there were more than a few people wondering if some e-sport stuff was in the cards for the title. This doesn't look like it will be the case, however, as Arrowhead wants to focus more on fun and straight-up entertainment than competitiveness and long-term rivalries.

"If you look at how you design and balance games," Johan told me "e-sport games really need to be balanced and that has to come first, and certain features are not allowed to be in an e-sports game just because they are fun... we just wanted to make a game that's really fun. It could become an e-sports game on its own, but from a design standpoint we just wanted to design a game that was fun, not an e-sports game."

At a time when fuddy-duddies like Warren Spector bemoan the violence so prevalent in our industry, The Showdown Effect reminded me that what's most important is that games are fun. Making a facsimile of John McClane slice open a monk dressed up as an extra from The Matrix with a sword from the future is definitely the type of fun I like.

Fraser Brown, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure FraserIBrown Tips
Fraser Brown is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming who is not Alasdair Duncan. Got a splinter stuck in his hand nineteen years ago and just left it in there. True story. ... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
As I leave to go home to a meal of chili mac and possibly to watch Alien 3, I leave you with this thought: Farts.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Question: What are the Persona Classics dlc sets like for Dancing All Night? Because I'm half interested, but if the characters used for the costumes aren't the best then eh... I know Nanako has a Aegis costume iirc but that's about it.
DeNA boss says that the Nintendo mobile games are coming soon. Hurry up and reveal the damn thing so I can know if I should be excited, interested, or disappointed?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
There's a tumor going around the Episode II of Zeldas is getting a remaster. Meanwhile, Link's Awakening 3D would have been appreciated much more. [img][/img]
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I was playing MGSV, doing a Mine Clearing Side Op and saw a bear. I pelted it with tranq bullets, few seconds later it ran into a mine and blew up, alerting the enemies in the process. Holy shit I love this game.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Nintendo giveth, and Nintendo taketh away. Now coming next Thursday!
gajknight avatargajknight
The wait for Dragon Quest Heroes is killing me. AR challenges in Arkham Knight do not fill the void! Not even Cat-woman's nice butt can fill the void. These 3 days will be a trial. :(
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
A client tipped me $50 today at a job site, which lead to me only spending $10 + tax for Dragon Quest Heroes. Slime time baby.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Glory to The Many. The Many sings to us.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Daily VGM #22 (Witcher 2) - Pam Pa Ram (The Witcher 3) [youtube][/youtube] Instant classic 10/10. It's a travesty it wasn't included in the soundtrack. Maybe CDPR is preparing for a special second disc release? I sure hope
Oh, look at that, the rough draft I choose not to delete of this paper I need to do! I can keep adding to that instead of starting over and getting frustrated and quitting. What a novel concept!
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Boys & Girls Whatcha doing ? Have you watched Shimoneta ? GO SEE IT [img][/img]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
And speaking of Yo-Kai Watch, it sounds like the demo's out!
El Dango avatarEl Dango
Hello, Thomas. I see you're looking at our fine selection of quickposts. Do they please you?
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Overwatch Beta livestreaming Thursday. All aboard the AWESOME train. CHOO! CHOO!
PSISomething avatarPSISomething
EXTREMELY SPOOPY TRAILER [youtube][/youtube]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I'm coming to realize my time off from blogging has made the progress I made at being succinct fade away into nothingness, as the world will see in about an hour. I also made Valkyrie Drive's boobs even more boring at Japanator last night! Somehow.
Apparently, Kero Blaster got an update... Neat.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
[url=""]Deus Ex: Revision is now a thing that's on Steam for free [img][/img][/url]
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:
The Showdown Effect

  Mar 14

Review: The Showdown Effect

I'm just a kindergarten teacher!

  Dec 19

The Showdown Effect is back with a new trailer

A competitive tribute to action movies

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -