Games these days seem to have taken a turn for the more complex. The days of old where but one load screen stood between players and a cathartic round of shoot-em-up have long been replaced by online lobbies, loadout options, and increasingly convoluted game mechanics. This is far from a complaint, however, because it’s only fitting for gaming styles to evolve alongside technology, but sometimes I wonder what happened to “Press Start to Play.” It seems that Top3Line agrees with this sentiment, and attempts to reignite the passionate flame of simple, fun games with Reload, their new bargain-buy rail shooter.
Welcome to the tutorial…and the rest of the game
Touting itself as “one of the most accurate shooting training simulators ever created,” Reload is all about the very simple objective of point, click, reload. Spread across a handful of different locations, spanning luscious forests, indoor arenas, and the desert sands of what most certainly is a Middle Eastern country, this simple-minded rail shooter takes players through a handful of different scenarios, including plain old target shooting, hostage scenarios, sniping, and skeet shooting.
Each level consists of several rounds that vary both in number and difficulty. With each new round comes either a limit on total amount of ammunition or the addition of faster moving targets. Each round is timed, and bonuses are given out based on accuracy, time/ammunition remaining, quick shooting, and target combos. Players can only progress to the next level after having earned at least a bronze medal, though this hardly seems to be a problem since points accumulate across individual tries.
Manners maketh man…Mechanics maketh game
The game overall is exceedingly simple. While some levels include targets that may shoot paintballs back at you if not destroyed in time, the interaction the game has with the player is otherwise close to negligible. With that being said, one would think that such a simple process would run smoothly, and while the game ran without crashing for a solid ten hours, the slight-yet-noticeable lag with the cursor was damming. As a game that parades around as a test of accuracy and reflexes, Reload hobbles the players until properly adjusted motor responses can be established.
One of the game’s more interesting quirks is the lack of looking down the ironsights. No one hip fires a pistol at a shooting range, Reload, so why is that the only way to do it here? Along the same lines, the “breathing” motion present during sniper and down-range, standing rifle challenges is absolutely ridiculous. My character was either a severe asthmatic or Helen freaking Keller, because the amount of sway was completely over exaggerated, and while there is the limited option to hold your breath, I found it almost as useless and more of a gimmick than anything even remotely practical.
The different kinds of guns, while fixed per each type of mission, are varied enough to be interesting. Performance in the campaign mode can earn players different gun skins and additional items, such as special lenses that illuminate special targets, so there is a consistent reward system in place to keep everyone motivated. Even though the campaign portion feels relatively sparse, with less than two hours of unique gameplay, Reload does feature a multiplayer option, allowing friends to take turns and see who really can shoot all the bottles off the fence. The online leaderboards are also an additional measure of worth, in case you want to feel really stupid.
I love the sound of gunfire in the morning
For being a lower-budget game, Reload actually looks and sounds pretty decent. The pre-rendered environments, while not interactive for the most part, are visually appealing and contribute to what could look a lot worse. The gunshots and explosions are acceptable enough, and the voiced announcements are a nice touch. On the other side of the aesthetics coin, however, is an atrocious mix of Call of Duty guitar riff ripoffs, and they absolutely make me want to turn the gun in on myself (which sadly isn’t an option).
Brought to you by the neighborhood-friendly NRA
Where the US Army has used videogames to boost recruitment in the past, this production reeks of the “gun nut” agenda. Not one mention of range safety or responsible practice is made, and the amount of collateral damage I’m allowed to inflict during hostage rescue missions is absurd. I was allowed to shoot TEN INNOCENT CIVILIANS before officially failing. Ten people; that’s an entire family’s worth of bodies I’m allowed to mow down for the sake of shooting the bad guys!
Which brings me to the most laughably offensive part of the game. While the kidnapper cutouts consist of a mixed bag of races, every single military level had me shooting down turban-bedecked males with bomb vests strapped to them. Guys, come on. There is more than one kind of terrorist in the world. The blatant xenophobia is downright repugnant and seriously undermines the “professional shooter training” aspect of the entire operation. There’s absolutely no excuse to feature this single stereotype over and over again. It’s an absolute embarrassment.