Running with Rifles Review

Pretty sure the trenches are just meant for infantry hey...
  • Review by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Modulaatio Games
  • Publisher: Modulaatio Games
  • Release Date: 3 April 2015
  • Time played: 7 hours

This review is going to read a lot like the First Impressions article I’ve posted before, for two reasons: (a) My opinion hasn’t really been changed that much since I wrote it and (b) I’ve enacted a new policy where my future reviews are going to be a similar format to my First Impressions articles.

As mentioned before, we originally got this game as part of a 4-pack so that the Choicest Games contributors would have a co-op game we could play together. We've played the game on and off over the past few months and it seems like the game still has a "Very Positive" rating on Steam and a score of 78 on Metacritic. So, how good is it really?

What I like

Kind of like a MOBA but not

I'm not a big fan of MOBAs, maybe because there's too much expectation that you'll follow a certain build and because it's pretty competitive (which means you need to invest time into a game in order to be any good – not a good game when you don't have much time on your hands or too many other games to play). However, Running with Rifles does share some similarities with MOBAs, such as mobs of AI controlled soldiers fighting each other in a seemingly endless war and you're (potentially) one of the super powerful heroes (I say "potentially" because you just start off as one of the grunts in this game and work your way up. Also the AI themselves can have "hero" characters too, so it's a bit different in that regard). Unlike traditional MOBAs though, in Running with Rifles your ability to aim a gun comes into play meaning that it requires a bit of hand-to-eye co-ordination.

Authentic weapons

... but not so authentic vehicles. There are three factions in this game based off real life nations: the Greencoats (the United States), the Browncoats (Russia) and the Greycoats (Germany). Each of them have guns used by their respective armies such as the M16, AK-47 or G36. There aren't any fictional names for the guns although you do have fictional vehicle names for some reason (like the RWR1A1 instead of the M1A1 Abrams).

Large armies

The game has a large number of soldiers fighting each other on the battlefield and firefights can become pretty hectic, especially when grenades and artillery start flying all over the place. It really gets the adrenaline pumping.

Ranking system that matters

The higher rank you are in Running with Rifles, the more weapons and abilities you will have access to. While you'll always need Resource Points or RP in order to pay for your weapons loadout or using certain abilities, you'll also need high enough Experience Points or XP in order to use higher powered weapons (such as sniper rifles) or abilities such as calling in mortar strikes or troops. Usually when you get to the rank of Corporal you will finally get a taste of these extra abilities through issuing radio commands.

I love it, since it basically means the more experienced or higher rank you are, the more responsibility you get. Too bad the Battlefield series has kind of been heading in the opposite direction to this since Battlefield 2.

What I dislike

Can get boring

Games can take a long time to finish especially when the human players aren't co-operating or when you simply don't have enough senior ranking players (which come along with awesome abilities, like being able to paradrop a tank). You can play a game for well over two hours with it just turning out to be a big tug-of-war with the opposing force, neither side really grasping victory. It can get demoralising after a while and while you may have helped grind some more XP with your character during that time, you go away feeling you really haven't achieved that much.

Hard to tell the height of the terrain

The game is played from a top-down view similar to old run and gun games like The Chaos Engine. Consequently it can sometimes be quite hard to tell if you actually have line-of-sight with your weapon resulting in you firing several rounds into the crest of a hill but not actually resulting in you killing the enemy. Worse, you may empty a clip only to be ambushed by an enemy on your flank and it’s game over (at least for that soldier).

Experience system is grindy

As far as I can tell, killing the enemy awards you XP which level up your character. However, dying causes you to lose XP which means there’s an extra element of grind. The good thing about this system though is it tends to promote those who are probably smart enough to stay alive longer before those who are gung-ho (like myself). Although technically someone acting as a sniper for the whole game would probably do well at being promoted as a consequence and I’m not sure if that’s behaviour you actually want to encourage. It also means if you have a few bad rounds you can undo lots of work delaying your chances of ever being promoted and leaving you stuck with one basic assault rifle, machine gun or shotgun and not much else.

Lip-service tutorial

The tutorial is really short and only covers some of the basic concepts in the game. It also doesn’t inform you how to do things (you basically have to experiment). Consequently while I know how to move my character around, check the armoury for weapons, shoot, pick up items and use the radio, there’s not much else. You won’t learn how to gain promotions and what abilities are linked to each of the promotions; for that you'll need to read the wiki.

Score – 7/10 (Good)

I like how Modulaatio Games has taken what is essentially a Battlefield game but made it a more tactical, top-down shooter game with large-scale battles. Experienced players are rewarded with awesome abilities like mortar strikes, paradrops and vehicle drops that can turn the tide of battle too. However, the game is a bit grindy and games can potentially last for hours without either side making much headway, leading to a sense of disappointment when you finally give up and quit the game. It's also a game that only really shines if you manage to play with a bunch of friends, otherwise it might lose its appeal very quickly.

Is the game worth $14.99 USD?: Yes. $20 AUD is good value for a well polished co-op indie game.

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[ LINK: Official Running with Rifles Website ]