Rubber Bandits is a multiplayer party brawl that can be played online or amongst your friends, but is it worth it? The Finger Guns Review.
Rubber Bandits is a multiplayer game where you assume the position of a prisoner, robber, bandit, criminal – however you want to put it. Your role in this is to get as much loot as you can and then escape. Almost like a bank heist. The only hitch in this plan is that there are 3 other robbers in the area, all trying to do the same thing.
Cops and Robbers
Within your environment lies 10 loot locations. Players can use the environment around them as weapons to either defend their own loot pockets, or make other players drop their loot in order to pick up more. Chaos ensues as you decide whether to leg it with what you have, or fight for more like the inner greedy guts you really are.
If you escape quickly and early, you have the chance to be a cop. A cop can apprehend other current playing robbers and confiscate their cash so they don’t reap the reward.
When first jumping in, you are a bit deep-ended as there is no tutorial, and so just muddling around figuring things out can feel a bit chaotic, throwing out the first couple of games. It is an easy concept though, so it won’t take you too long to get the gist of things.
There are a couple of different game modes available from the off. ‘Free for all’ will allow you to play online or offline, with friends or alone. Free-for-all ‘Heist’ needs players to reach 21 loot. The first to reach the total wins the game. There can be up to four players in this match and you can use weapons and tactics to get this loot however you desire. There is even a control that can allow for dropping just one loot at a time, which is pretty clever considering this may distract other players, or you can instigate a murder for hire type scenario and work as a tentative team before betraying one another.
Rubber is the New Stripe
Brawl is a PVP deathmatch where each player has 3 lives, and players must use weapons and the environment to their advantage. The rounds are best of three so it can get pretty gripping if players are on 2 wins each. This is extremely fun. The only issue here is that very quickly players appeared to have a ‘disconnection mentality’. Where as if they are not happy, not winning, or very clearly getting smashed, they will just drop out. Which on some level, understandable and expected, but can then domino to other players following suit. This wouldn’t be so bad if the last person standing counted as a win, but it doesn’t. You kind of just get stuck in this empty room for a while before it just kicks you to the main menu ignoring any chance of progression.
It highlights the need for something to be done around this considering this is already happening so early in the game’s release. Player’s shouldn’t have to put in the work, to not be rewarded because people can’t hack being sore losers.
Arcade mode acts as a sort of career mode. You play through a series of levels, either with your pals or with the AI. You have the opportunity to go through each level with many locations and try to escape the cops from the get go. As I began this mode, I played against the AI. At first, they literally stood still in their tracks. At the time, I thought that maybe the game was a bit broken as I thought they were supposed to be fighting against me to win the level. However as you progress throughout the arcade mode, the AI ramps up. This gives you a healthy difficulty curve throughout the mode. This is a bit lonely when played solo, but could be a lot of fun with friends.
Strangely the game does hint towards there being a career mode? It is unclear whether this is actually arcade mode or there is a career mode sneaking around, but myself or people playing couldn’t locate this and I wonder if it is something set up for the future? Unless they are referring to career mode being heist mode, climbing ranks each time you win a heist.
Lastly there is a team mode, allowing you to team up with friends or others, in a 2v2 mode. Loot is shared amongst you, so you can either play your own strengths or work together and come up with a new tactic. This mode certainly wasn’t met with as many disconnections which was good fun, but if your teammate is no good, it can sink your ship real quick.
The playable characters are part of the fun and these adorable little creatures look like smooth LEGO all dressed up for a life of crime. To start, you get the option of choosing a few default skins, such as a standard striped black and white robber, an old lady and even a banana. There are ways to purchase further skins to feel more individualised to the game either through a DLC pass pack or a free pass. You can gather in-game currency through collecting tickets. These are collected by winning games, leaving the rounds with loot, coming to certain places and playing different modes. You then are able to afford different skins such as birds, cowboys, and unicorns.
The levels and locations visited are creative and full of activity. When entering a level, the game will display where players will enter, where they could cause potential chaos, where the loot is and finally where they will need to escape.
The environments utilise both height and obstacles well. Using moving cars, levers, and cleverly placed items on the floor. Dumpsters will also be placed which players can hit for items to pop out of. Weapons will also spawn at random.
There’s a plethora of weapons available and they’re not just gun. There’s swords and bats but also, random objects of toilet rolls, cones and even the debris of the environment that you and your fellow criminals have smashed up can be used to stun your campmates. The game also has their own takes on classic heist tropes such as museum’s and banks.
Many Many Menus
The game has multiple modes which is great. However, some modes will be a lot quicker than others depending on many factors such as disconnections, skill and just general pace of a game of short rounds. From an accessibility point of view, there is a lot of menus encroaching on menus; like a Russian doll of menus.
For example you have the main menu, which decides online or offline play. This takes you to a loading screen, which will pop you into a prison of four cells. In the bottom left corner a stick with your game mode. When you break down your escape cell door and escape that starts the game, where you are met with another loading screen. The game starts, which lasts a few minutes. Loading screen takes you into a first, second, third place screen giving you the option to play again or return to another menu. Whatever way you choose, leads to another loading screen and likely another menu.
It also isn’t completely clear that you need to leave your jail cell, climb to the bottom floor and hit the stick in the bath to change the game mode. Without a tutorial or any instructions, accessibility could be an issue as the bottom of the cells are not really visible until you start to fall into the bottom floor. It feels as if this could have been more concise as it is reminiscent of loading screens of previous consoles. They do make up for this somewhat, by having some tips, or quirky jokes during the loading screens, or even a reminder of the controls. While I say ‘reminder’, it essentially is the only information about the controls. So having a good memory is key too.
Fall Guys Lite
One thing that I have not mentioned which is likely the most important thing to discuss Is the input delay. Connection issues, lag, reaction times, and all around buffers of your own character holds the game back immensely. When a multiplayer game releases, it’s primary selling point and attraction is usually online multiplayer. Especially this day in age. This has to be functionally or at least with forgivable issues. Truth be told, a lot of the issues in Rubber Bandits aren’t forgivable. I did a lot of things solo to try and fully appreciate the design of the game and that was a bit lonely for my liking.
Offline you’ll obviously be met with no lag, the AI isn’t smart enough nor difficult enough to continue to peak interest for very long this way. As soon as you are playing online, the games sole main reason for investing, the input delay you are met with is almost intolerable.
From pressing the button, to actual fruition would take 2 seconds. Doesn’t sound very long at all does it? However audibly speaking out loud “1…2”. Before my player throws a baguette at someone’s head, isn’t ideal for a PVP set up. This is also something my pals would come up against in their own games, and even the games with myself included.
The game is a good take on multiplayer party brawls, such as Fall Guys or Gang Beasts, but falls short of their technical ability to hold up during online play. It felt as if the game needed more time in the oven, and more optimisation before being released. A game like this will depend on the price point. It would be difficult to recommend if you were playing on Sony’s PlayStation. With an RRP of nearly 25 pound at launch, this isn’t justified. When you have games with much more variety, volume of modes and smoother optimisation, this isn’t well priced.
However, your time would be worth spending if playing on Game Pass, or paying a justifiable price on Steam with how it currently plays. If the game was given some more time to run smoother and enhance reaction times, then a higher price point may feel more comfortable at the time. There is a great game in here somewhere, just not right now.
Rubber Bandits has nearly all the components for a great party game, whether playing with friends in your house, or playing online with strangers. With multiple game modes, characters to choose from and tactics to employ, this game could be a lot of fun. The only thing holding it back currently is the input delay, reaction times, and the sheer frustration of playing online. There is a diamond in the rough somewhere here, it may just take some digging through the dirt.
Rubber Bandits is out on PlayStation 4 and 5 (Review Platform), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.
Developer: Flashbulb Games
Publisher: Flashbulb Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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