Having been available on PC since November 2019, it’s unfortunate that The TakeOver has landed on Switch just over a month after the launch of Streets of Rage 4.
A side-scrolling beat ’em up largely created by just one man, The TakeOver gets a hell of a lot right. There are some elements of its gameplay that are less than positive, though, and the recent brilliance of Streets of Rage 4 means the limelight it perhaps would have enjoyed has been quashed.
The TakeOver‘s story is your typical side-scrolling beat ’em up nonsense; the streets are being overrun with crime, and in the midst of it all a young girl has been kidnapped. Why she was a target is unknown, but her adoptive parents, Ethan and Megan, are both bad-asses that will do all that it takes to save her. They call in their friend Connor for good measure, too, who certainly looks pretty scary. What follows is a seven stage journey filled with violent fisticuffs and one or two surprises in between.
“Largely created by just one man, The TakeOver gets a hell of a lot right”
When you first start playing The TakeOver you’re likely to be wowed by it. It looks absolutely gorgeous; sharp, colourful visuals and exaggerated character models pop out of the screen. It’s quite possibly one of the best-looking games available on Switch. And then there’s the music; it’s an eclectic mix, but it’s brilliant nonetheless. Streets of Rage fans will be interested to hear that even Yuzo Koshiro has contributed to The TakeOver‘s banging track list.
The gameplay also impresses, initially. The TakeOver has a brilliant combat system that allows you to throw punches or kicks, or combine them both, to create extensive combos. Skilled players will learn how to juggle their opponents, too, eking even more damage out of their assaults. Like latter Streets of Rage titles, players also have access to to two health-draining special attacks; a defensive move that clears surrounding enemies, and a forward focused attack that is more potent.
It doesn’t stop there, either. These characters aren’t afraid of firearms, and they each come equipped with their personal favourite. You can draw your gun at any time and let rip, but ammo is scarce so use it wisely. By playing well and raising the combo meter, you’ll find two meters being charged as well. The Rage meter allows you to enter a powered up state where you do double damage and automatically block enemy attacks, while the Super meter grants the use of a powerful screen-clearing attack.
“The TakeOver has a brilliant combat system that allows you to throw punches or kicks, or combine them both, to create extensive combos”
Easy to pick up but hard to master, you’ll enjoy pounding The TakeOver‘s thugs into the ground. As you progress further into the game though, you’ll realise that you hardly ever have to change your tactics to overcome those who stand in your path. There’s a nice visual variety to the enemies thrown at you, but they rarely have gameplay quirks that you need to consider. You simply walk up to nearly every enemy and just beat on them until they go down.
Outside of boss fights, in which you will indeed need to employ some strategy unless you make use of your perhaps overpowered Rage state, only enemies with guns and hulking mechs require some thought before you approach. The mechs, in fact, will become the bane of your life in the game’s final stage, which is a remarkable step up in difficulty compared to the rest of the game. The eventual repetitiveness of The TakeOver‘s combat means that it’s ultimately best played in short bursts.
“The eventual repetitiveness of The TakeOver‘s combat means that it’s ultimately best played in short bursts”
The TakeOver is still an accomplished game though. Story scenes play out via comic book cels and are fully voiced, there’s a Survival mode and an unlockable Challenge mode for added playability, and multiple ways for you to practice your skills. Local co-op is included too, so you can take the battle to the streets with a friend in tow. Unfortunately there’s no online co-op. And when playing in single-player, two bonus stages provide some gameplay variety. You won’t be blown away the game’s car chase scene, but it’s a nice diversion, while an Afterburner-esque air pursuit provides considerable thrills.
Despite its issues, if you’ve had your fill of Streets of Rage 4 and are after another side-scrolling beat ’em up to play, you should definitely consider adding The TakeOver to your collection. Though it does eventually lose some of its shine, its combat system offers more depth than most in the genre, and the package as a whole has some genuinely nice ideas. The fact that it looks so good and has a great soundtrack is just icing on the cake.