At first glance, The Takeover may appear as a Streets of Rage style beat’em up and some may argue this was an inopportune time to release such a game since Streets of Rage 4 just released 2 months ago. Frequent readers of my writings know that the beat’em up genre is by far my favorite and I’m here to tell you that The Takeover is deserving of your time and money, for not only is it a fun pick up & play beat’em up but it also introduces new gameplay mechanics to the genre.
The story gets straight to the point. Megan and Connor’s daughter is kidnapped. The two bad assess venture out to perform the rescue along with their friend Ethan who is always down for a fight. The character dialogue is beautifully done via comic style windows which include actual voice actors along with action sounds that really make each window pop. The character interactions in these cut scenes feel very 1980s with Connor doing a great impersonation of Stallone from the 1986 film Cobra.
You have the option to play as one of the three before-mentioned characters. Each one has a distinct stat sheet that displays range, power speed, and stamina. What’s not shown or mentioned is that each character also has a “Super” and “Rage” attack alongside a unique firearm. You will see a Super and Rage meter which both fill up as you kick ass and pick up fallen items. As mentioned, each character has a sidearm but in a way, this is also a special ability since its use is based on the amount of ammo you have.
You will find ammo throughout the 20 locations across the 7 levels but in limited supply. Megan has a pistol, Ethan whips out a revolver, and Connor in my opinion has the best sidearm which is a shotgun. Since ammo is limited these sidearm weapons are to be used wisely. During my first playthrough, I used Connor and noticed that I can take out 2 or 3 enemies with one shotgun blast if they were positioned directly in front of me. On that note lest talk about the gameplay.
If Final Fight and Streets of Rage were meshed together to create a new game then it would absolutely be The Takeover. The large character designs instantly transport your mind back to Final Fight and the colorful stage layouts along with the amazing soundtrack scream Streets of Rage. In fact, the well-known game composer best known for his Streets of Rage tracks Yuzo Koshiro also contributed to The Takeover’s head-bobbing soundtrack. There are dedicated buttons for almost every character motion as displayed below.
B – Jump
A – Punch
X – Kick
Y – Super
ZL – Run
ZR – Pull out your sidearm and press A to shoot
Left Stick – Move and double-tap up or down to roll back and forth from the foreground
I felt it necessary for me to point out these controls to better explain what makes this game stand out. The Takeover is all about creating unique combos to building up your rage and earn more points. For example, as Connor you can run into a group of enemies, press A upon contact with one of them to see Connor pull off a 360 spin kick move to knock out the surrounding enemies, and then finish off with a neck breaker to your original target. In order to grapple an enemy, all you have to do is walk up and make contact.
Another cool maneuver is to walk up, grapple, and press X which will spin your character around to the front or back of the enemy depending on which side you grappled from. From there, you can perform a throw, suplex, or devastating combo which all depends on which button you press and direction in which you are moving the left stick. Connor also has a fun kick combo that ends with a shotgun blast. Adding this well-thought-out combo mechanic makes The Takeover feel unique when compared to other current offerings in the Beat’em up genre.
Each of the 20 locations in the 7 levels has its own unique look & feel. I particularly liked one location early on in the game in which takes place in an arcade. The HD backdrops look amazing and at times you would think it was possible to walk up and play one of the cabinets (maybe in the sequel). The rain effects along with proper lighting really set the mood. When it comes to boss battles there are 7 and prior to the battle, there is a bit of dialogue exchanged, except this time they are in a letterbox. Unfortunately, all voice acting is only provided in the cut scenes. The Takeover also introduces a fun car chase level as well as another unique over the top action sequence which I will not spoil.
Honestly, the only downside I had with The Takeover was the inability to play in online co-op. Only local co-op play is available and I feel in today’s gaming environment having the option for online co-op is an absolute must-have feature, especially in a side-scrolling beat’em up. Besides Arcade / Story mode you also have the following options to choose from:
Survival – Which as the time states the goal is to survival waves of enemies you want to battle, multiple difficulty settings along with a few others.
Practice – I was surprised to see how many practice variables you could create such as 1 to 6 enemies to battle at a time, free practice, enemy attack on or off, and multiple difficulty settings.
Challenge – This mode will unlock once you complete the story
There is also a high score button on the home screen for those who want to see where they stand among friends and the community.
The Takeover will undoubtedly be compared to the current release of Streets of Rage 4 which is fair, to a point, however, this is no “clone” title. Its beautiful level design, awesome soundtrack, and action-packed combo mechanics are all key ingredients to creating a game that offers plenty of replay value.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of The Takeover for the Nintendo Switch provided by Pelikan13 and Antonios Pelekanos.