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The Showdown Effect preview

Arrowhead Game Studios (developers of Magicka) recently showed us their upcoming brawler title, The Showdown Effect, which the developers describe as, "kind of like Worms, but in real time." The 2.5D online multiplayer brawler puts you in wacky, action movie inspired environments and lets players beat, chop, shoot opponents to a bloody pulp.

Check out the newest trailer here...

Visually, The Showdown Effect has a cartoony art style, similar to the look of Klei Entertainment's Shank or Mark of the Ninja, and it's just as brutal. Players will be able to choose from six characters, all inspired by famous action-flick characters from movies in the 1980s and 90s, including Dutch McClone (a play on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis) an amnesiac Austrian living in the US, a kid genius whose father was a ten time Nobel prize winner, and a Kung Fu Grand Master. And each one can be customised with skins, like bionic arms, Matrix trench coats, and bucket hats.

The gameplay feels similar to the Super Smash Bros. series. Up to eight players enter a free for all and duel each other in an attempt to score the most kills using their customized loadouts. The stages are multi-leveled arenas set in locations like Neo Tokyo and a Medieval castle. The nimble characters can easily wall jump to higher platforms, slide along the floor while firing off their weapons, and drop into sewers through grates in order to evade or hunt other players. All their moves are extremely stylistic, and convey the sense that you're in an old-school, action blockbuster movie.

The high mobility also makes each engagement extremely unpredictable, as does the visibility restrictions. You're only able to see enemies that are in your field of view. Players outside of your vision radius are hidden behind a shadow screen, so it's possible to fire off a few shots then disappear behind cover. The vision mechanic also makes stealth and bringing a sword to a gunfight viable strategic options.

Each character can be equipped with two weapon types, including close-range swords, pistols, sub-machine guns, chainguns, and rocket launchers. Players can also equip special skills, but we were not able to see any during the demo. Each weapon type has it's own specific strengths and weaknesses. For instance, the chaingun is a good all-around weapon that can make swiss cheese out of opponents near and far. The rocket launcher, on the other hand, takes precise timing and accuracy since a single shot takes a second or two to charge up. If you manage to stay on target, the rocket is a quick way to liquify the opposition. You're weapon choices can drastically alter your playstyle, but every option is open to you. You can even go so far as to carry two swords, or go unarmed.

Outside of the loadouts, you'll be able to pick up objects and weapons from the environment. These can be anything from Excalibur-like medieval swords and bone crushing hammers to bags of potatoes, and wooden stools. But every object is useful. Potato sacks and trash can lids can be used to block gunfire or thrown for long range damage, and the massive melee weapons are one-hit kills if you manage to time the incredibly slow swing correctly.

While The Showdown Effect is definitely competitive, the game strives for more of a "it's just for fun" vibe. Characters constantly call out witty lines from action movies, the weapons are outrageous, and the player duels are as intense as they are ridiculous. Where else will you see a chaingun-wielding bionic Kung Fu Grand Master battling a New York cop garbed in a Crusader's plate armor?

Check out the game for yourself when the game hits beta later this month. The Showdown Effect will be available for PC in March 2013.

Many years ago, Lorenzo Veloria was a Senior Editor here at GamesRadar+ helping to shape content strategy. Since then, Lorenzo has shifted his attention to Future Plc's broader video game portfolio, working as a Senior Brand Marketing Manager to oversee the development of advertising pitches and marketing strategies for the department. He might not have all that much time to write about games anymore, but he's still focused on making sure the latest and greatest end up in front of your eyes one way or another.