Initial release date: February 2, 2016
Console Release Date: June 3, 2020
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Publishers: Pelikan13, DANGEN Entertainment
*Code Provided By Matt McMuscles*
It’s hard to believe that 2020 would be the year of two massive beat em ups with the return of the legendary Streets of Rage series in Streets of Rage 4 which was a MUST OWN and now we have an indie brawler made by YouTuber Matt McMuscles in The TakeOver which is a game that is heavily inspired by Streets of Rage with aspects of Final Fight, Brawl Brothers, and even Double Dragon added in to make a brawler that is looking to not only live up to the games it is inspired by but also to exceed its shadow and make a name for itself as a top tier brawler. With an OST from the legendary Yuzo Kushiro and rising artist Little V Mills and a graphical style that suits a modern brawler, is The TakeOver the definitive brawler of the year and generation or is it a good first attempt that falls short? Let’s find out!
The story of The TakeOver kicks off with one of our 3 heroes Megan coming home to find that the house had been broken into with broken glass and furniture everywhere. Megan ends up calling Ethan (main hero of The TakeOver) and tells him that their daughter Vanessa had been kidnapped with Ethan asking if there was blood of which Megan says no. Megan asks if she should call up their ex-military friend Connor to help out with the search for Vanessa which leads to Ethan saying “Do You even have to Ask?” as Connor is always looking for a fight. The three heroes team up and take to the streets to knuckle up and find Vanessa and uncover what criminal organization is behind all this. Will the succeed? Well that’s up to you.
So immediately upon playing this game you’re going to take this as initially being nothing more than a Streets of Rage clone with an impeccable art style and aesthetic because it…well…honestly plays like Streets of Rage or more accurately Bare Knuckle 3 with some exceptions and additions.
You’re able to not only punch and kick and jump, but also able to run, dodge roll up and down the screen, use crowd control moves that drain your health in both neutral and directed forward, a screen nuke, RAGE mode granting invincibility, with a brand new addition to this style of brawler being the ability to use a gun. Now where the game differs from Bare Knuckle 3 is with the combo system and gunplay.
The combo system is free flow in that you can chain together punches and kicks that can end in a hard hitting knock down if using punch or a knock upwards letting you juggle them further with a second string combo, crowd control forward attack, jump attacks, or gun shots to help you build up the combo meter which helps you build up the screen nuke and RAGE meter.
When it comes to the gunplay, it was done very well as to have you not rely upon it and to be used for harder enemies and bosses. You start the first level off with a few bullets which do about as much damage as a full kick combo and as you progress through the levels you will find additional ammo that you can stock up on up to about 25 bullets. Ethan uses a standard Glock with a quick-fire capability, Megan uses a Revolver that hits multiple enemies while shooting slower but does more damage than Ethan’s Glock. Connor uses a pump action shotgun that hits multiple enemies and does the most damage of all the characters and is also incorporated in some of his combos that will launch enemies. The unlockable character Jackson uses a two barrel shotgun that is the second strongest gun in the game assigned to a character next to Connor’s and has the added ability of being used in Jacksons combos as he can smack an enemy with the shotgun before shooting and it does decent damage.
Now Ethan plays almost to a T like Axel Stone with his crowd control move being near identical to Axel’s and his float over back attack being the same along with his front throw. Ethan also has a forward crowd control move called “Burning Hands” that’s basically Ryu and Akuma’s Messatsu Hadouken that hits multiple times. Megan plays like a mix of Blaze Fielding with Final Fight 3 and Street Fighter V’s Lucia Morgan with her back-flip attack and lightning legs attack into back flip attack. Connor’s attacks are based on Alex’s move set from Street Fighter III and V with his Flash Chop, turn back kick, and his jumping tornado DDT and Zangief/Mike Haggar’s Lariat attack and forward crowd control move being The Hulk’s Gamma Smash move from the VS series. The final character Jackson has 2 specific moves from The King of Fighter’s K’ (K-Dash) with his forward heavy punch and his Crow Bites dragon punch. Jackson also has the kick combo of Kim Kahpwan from Fatal Fury/The King of Fighters and his double kick knock up.
There’s the standard Arcade Mode, Practice, Survival, Challenge Mode, How To Play, Options, and High Score. Playing through the 7 main stages in Arcade Mode plays out the way a standard brawler would with an exception being that there are 3 levels that change up the flow of gameplay. One level will have you playing a minigame level that plays like Sega’s OutRun games and a later level that plays like AfterBurner. One unique level that stands out is the level 5 where you have in the second area of that level with the zombies that requires you to use the M4 Assault Rifle that has unlimited bullets to take out the zombies which take several bullets to kill.
This game has a very stylized look to it with pseudo digitized models for the characters and a gritty urban style look. Ethan is clearly based on Axel Stone with the head band, jeans, sneakers, and shirt to some extent looking like his Streets of Rage 3 style. Blaze is a sultrier and more seductive looking Blaze in an all leather biker get up with Connor looking like Haggar meets Rolento. Jackson looks like a grown-up Skate melded with Adam Hunter the drip of his outfit is amazing.
The enemies all look like they came from various beat em ups and all animate fluidly with multiple frames of animation. Bosses all like big and intimidating with one boss, The Baz, who was originally designed by Iron Galaxy based on a rejected design of a Street Fighter character named Zubaz who has been showing up in several games from DiveKick to more who attacks with a whip like a Belmont from Castlevania while looking like a Road Warrior.
Level one looks like a combination of Streets of Rage 1 and 2’s opening level with a realistic look due to the Unreal Engine 4 with rain effects and explosions when oil tanks are broken. Levels range from the Industrial Factory to a Steel Freighter and even Arcade Bar. The levels are all graphically impressive and are diverse fitting the areas that you are in.
This is what I envisioned Streets of Rage 4 looking like hands down.
This is going to be the shortest area of the review because the soundtrack for this game is so well done with the legendary Yuzo Kushiro composing the first level’s theme “TakeOver” and the main theme being composed and performed by rising artist Little V Mills and more. This OST is just phenomenal overall with no down points at all.
The voice acting is done very well with the main characters and enemies all sounding great. Is the voice acting segments memorable? No, but it’s still good for what it is which for whatever reason is almost absent from Streets of Rage 4.
Cut scenes are voice acted and animated in a comic book style that is cool but to me conflicts with the in-game art style. I would have liked a more consistent art style through out the game. I also wish there was both a back attack like in Streets of Rage and also a knockdown recovery move that would help speed up the combat.
There are occasional instances of slowdown in the game when certain moves are performed or enemies show up. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. There’s also, at the time of this review, long load times between cutscenes and other transitions in comparison to the Steam release of which the devs stated they will fix as soon as they can.
Other than that, I just wish the game had online co-op and the ability to make controller settings when you pause the game. Minor nitpicks overall.
The TakeOver has solid, fluid, and hard-hitting gameplay; a banger of a soundtrack that doesn’t let up, great graphics and aesthetics, and tons of replay value. You just can’t go wrong if you’re debating on picking this up for your Nintendo Switch for on the go and at home couch co-op play. If you have to decide between The TakeOver and Streets of Rage 4 then I’d say drop money on both for maximum value. The TakeOver is a game YOU NEED in your collection.