Oozing with attitude, three heroes pummel criminals in the streets that feel ripped straight from the 90’s era. The TakeOver knows exactly the crowd it’s going for, and it succeeds with every punch, kick, gunshot, explosion, and special attack. It’s time to get revenge and save your adopted daughter from the gangs of the city.
This game is heavily inspired by the likes of Streets of Rage and Final Fight, but it took me straight back to my childhood with Fighting Force on PS1. Sure, combos are an emphasis in The TakeOver, but this game, like Fighting Force, allows you to use guns as well as punches and kicks. Blending the likes of Streets of Rage and Final Fight is a match made in the Bronx.
Each punch and kick feels powerful as you attempt to mix both of them together to make a decent combo. Just like the games The TakeOver is inspired by, the juggling is incredibly satisfying as you’re dealing with multiple foes around you. Beat-em-ups are often called repetitive, but the variety of combos with the three characters keep it fresh. Ethan has similar moves to Ryu and Chun-Li from Street Fighter, shoryukens and hadokens included! Connor is like Zangief, a slower character that has a focus on guns and more powerful attacks. Megan is faster and performs flashy kicks, similar to Blaze from Streets of Rage. The game has plenty of variety to keep the pummeling fresh with against the clock situations and radical driving sections that keep the action pounding. What also keeps the tedium away is that The TakeOver has much more manageable checkpoints on Normal Mode.
Rather than going right back to the start of the level, each stage is sectioned off by three parts. It makes the game much more lenient if you’re struggling to face off against the waves of enemies towards you. But if you want it to feel more traditional, the Hard Mode is much stricter as there are no continues; there are also more enemies on screen that are faster and tougher than their Normal counterparts. If you’re a newcomer to beat-em-ups, there is also the Easy Mode. It’s nice to have a bit of variety than the old school games.
There are a few issues with The TakeOver though: the obstacles and the explosives. Because the game controls like the classics, it also comes with their downfalls. It’s difficult to determine when you’re on the right 2D plain to avoid attacks, the rolling barrels coming your way, and explosives. You can roll and you can run away, but at points, it was hard to get out of the way while thugs are attacking, and the controls aren’t as responsive as you like because of the traditional style of input. The short jump also makes it super tough to avoid rolling barrels on one plain; you might just have to resort to using the precious few bullets you have in your gun to blast your way through.
The bosses can be a mixed bag. Most begged for mercy due to a mechanic called the Rage meter. You gain it as you deal out attacks and when activated, you are impervious and deal extra damage. They crumbled to the heroes’ enraged fists. Stronger bosses towards the end of the game were less kind if you don’t have Rage ready to go. Their attacks are hard to avoid, due to the dated (but accurate controls), and it may be a struggle to fight them without a block button in play. The cluster of sentry robots that the developer plops on top of the player is also kinda ridiculous towards the end of the game.
The story carrying forward the gameplay is told through engaging panels with righetous and expressive art alongside great voice acting by Kira Buckland (2B from NieR Automata) and the rest of the cast. The writing is not going to win a Game Award, but it carries that spirit of 90’s attitude that makes it true to the genre in every way. And if you like Matt McMuscles’ YouTube channel, it just screams his type of humour in the best way because he wrote the script!
The narrative carries simple set up for the mayhem. Your adoptive daughter has been kidnapped by a gang, and it is the trio’s job to save her. As you beat each boss at the end of every level, you are treated to a brief cutscene with the heroes pressuring for information. They have a fun banter between each other, then an action scene of some sort, and then it transitions to the next mission. There’s not too much depth, but the characters are likeable, and it would be nice to see them come back in a sequel of some kind.
Another thing that is brought out in the best way is the art style. The characters initially look odd with a realistic almost Mortal Kombat reminiscent shade on them, but they fit in with the environment more and more as you play it. The 2.5D animation, and the 3D environments come hand-in-hand seamlessly. In one stage, machinery, moves in the foreground and background, creating a dynamic look. In another, you are moving diagonally through an arcade. Objects shaking from the on-screen action is a nice touch too. This beat-em-up looks fantastic and shows a step up of the genre. In addition, the comic book style cutscenes pop on screen with wonderfully drawn visuals, expressive characters, and clever transitions.from scene to scene.
The TakeOver has a rocking soundtrack from LittleVMills, Richie Branson, James Ronald and Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshiro. The themes hit the stages perfectly, and some of the songs might make you head bang to them. The song by Yuzo Koshiro during the game’s opening stage sets the part rock, part techno vibe of the soundtrack perfectly.
The voice acting, while cheesy at parts, fits the tone of the game. The lead cast has a great chemistry with each other, and the comedic timing is on point. It is repetitive, however, when characters say the same lines over and over when they pick up cash in the game. It would have been great if they recorded more for the final product, but it’s a minor gripe. The sound mixing could have turned out better, as explosions and gunfire, are at a higher volume than everything else on screen; it’s not ear-piercing at all but it’s noticeable.
The first play through will take you around 2 hours to complete, but the game still has a lot of unlockables, multiple endings, and a fourth character to find. There are the survival and challenge modes to play, if you can’t get enough of the beat-em-up gameplay. When you finish the game, relay mode is unlockable as well, which allows you to switch characters on-the-fly. While the initial playthrough is quite short, there are incentives to replay the game.
Overall, The TakeOver is a blast from the past you want to play that came out in 2020, alongside Streets of Rage 4. The combos are sick to pull off, the stages look awesome, and it’s not as absurdly difficult as the retro titles. Grab a buddy if you can, get your fisticuffs ready, and join the battle!
Fun, combo-based gameplay with each character feeling unique
More forgiving gameplay than classic titles
Struggles with the 2D plains
Controls feel sluggish at times
Mixed bag with the bosses