In the modern shooter landscape true arena shooters are nearly non-existent. Despite the popularity of Quake and Unreal Tournament the market shifted with the explosive growth seen with Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War and Battlefield. With consumers becoming tired of same old modern military shooters as being shown by the declining sales of the behemoth Call of Duty franchise, we are seeing the shooter landscape changing it up. Yet still we are seeing iterations on the same type of game play whether it’s next generation Team Fortress with Overwatch, next generation Halo with Doom or same mechanics with a different setting and slight twist from Call of Duty. Yet one studio set out to create a shooter with a clear mission statement: Frag like its 1999. To create a game that has the same speed, skill cap and intensity seen in Quake and Unreal Tournament. The game in question is Toxikk created by the independent studio Reakktor. The question is will they be successful with a type of shooter that has been all but forgotten as developers circle each other chasing trend?
Before I answer that question let’s take a closer look at Toxikk starting with the setting. The cartels Exocom and Drayos have replaced the governments of the world, controlling the politicians and fighting over the few remaining resources left on Earth. One resource in particular Edenium has high energy potential and could help ease the energy crisis. In this world the players take on the roles of mercenaries hired by the two large companies to fight across the globe to control the supply and distribution of Edenium. Drayos Energiya was a company founded Dimitri Drayos from Russia. He quickly acquired the largest energy production company in China and continued to expand across the globe through takeover and acquisition. Exocom is a cartel made up of eight corporations three from western Europe and five from North America. This conglomerate deals in a wide range of services from private military contracts to metalworking. Currently headed by the CEO of the largest of the eight companies David Reza of Typherra Research, Exocon was created to stop the aggressive growth of Drayos. As far as plots go this is fairly basic and more than serviceable. While the game includes a single player mode called Contracts mode this boils down to the maps strung together with AI filling in as the other players.
Moving on to mechanics I am happy to say that this game is fast paced and has some of the most fluid movement I have seen in a shooter in a long time with an easy to learn difficult to master system that will have you double jumping, wall jumping, rocket jumping and dash jumping around the map in no time at all. There are nine weapons and they all feel unique and powerful with no weapons having iron sights. Every weapon has a secondary fire with the exception of the rocket launcher which changes your rockets to being laser guided and the sniper rifle which toggles into a scope mode. Whether you are shredding people with the Ravager which is a repurposed demolition drill or eviscerating targets with the Cerberus rocket launcher every weapon feels satisfying. A weapon similar to the Redeemer even makes an appearance called Hellraiser and like the Redeemer there are two fire modes unguided or remote controlled missile. Vehicles are also a welcome edition to the lineup with them ranging from the Phantom which an assault bomber to the Banshee which was a repurposed racing jet, there is even Demon which is a battle mech which can also dodge jump and fly short distances. In all the combat feels fast and fluid and the vehicles don’t appear to break the balance too much.
All of the classic modes you would expect from Quake or Unreal Tournament also make an appearance though with different names. Cell Capture is your Capture the Flag mode in which you attempt to protect your Edenium energy cell while capturing your enemies Edenium energy cell. Bloodlust is a free for all deathmatch mode, Squad assault is your team deathmatch mode and finally Area Domination is a three point domination mode. Vehicles and powerups like armor and the jetpack are also not present on every map which also adds variety as I do feel the Demon mech is a bit too strong on one of the Cell Capture maps a problem which can be exacerbated if one team manages to snag both mechs. So some maps may feel unbalanced if you are playing against a seasoned player that knows where all of the powerups and weapons are, however this was also an issue in other arena shooters so not much change there. Another welcome addition in our increasingly connected world is the ability to host a LAN server, which is a feature rarely seen in gaming today.
While not a technical marvel when it comes to visuals Toxikk looks beautiful and ran amazingly on my PC, never dipping below 60 FPS with every setting on max. Each map also looks stunning and unique whether you are in the jungles of Cambodia or in the alleyways of Hong Kong. The locations are as varied as the maps themselves, some having multiple levels and corners that could easily be ambush points while others are simpler and more open allowing for intense firefights. Even with the game installed on a 7200 RPM HDD I never found the load times to be long and with an install size of 4.6 GB the game takes up minimal space.
Moving on to music and sound design, I feel that the music works well for the setting. While generally not a fan of electronic music, the tempo and the beat works well to get you pumped up during game play. Each map also has its own theme which is a nice design choice prevents you from hearing the same track too often unless you prefer to play on a favorite map. The sound design for the weapons is also solid, with the Cerberus rocket launcher sounding menacing with each shot fired and the explosion that follows sounding satisfactory. Just as each weapon looks and feels unique each weapon also sounds unique which adds to the enjoyment of the game.
In the end I find this game to be a worthy successor to the arena shooters of old and hope that this game finds the success it deserves. While this game has its flaws, one of which I believe is the Demon mech suit as you could easily get a team kill or two before the mech is blown up. I find none of the flaws to be deal breaking and could easily recommend this game. There is a free to play tier which gets you access to every map, weapon and even the full single player mode. However in the free tier you are unable to customize your character, vote on maps, use the SDK to create maps, download mods from the Steam workshop or host your own server. I do however feel that the game as it stands now is worth every penny which at the time of writing this is $14.99 USD ($39.99 for a four pack) or your regional equivalent from either Steam or directly from the game’s website http://www.toxikk.com/. In conclusion I can easily give this game a final verdict of buy it.