I love little-known games. I love playing obscure games that only three people in the world know about, and then being able to claim a title as a Games Nerd for knowing about these things. Oftentimes I find out about these games through very, very old PC User demo discs, and some of these games turn out to be real gems. While not the greatest game in the history of civilisation, Recoil will certainly keep you occupied for a while.
It’s your usual “shoot the shit out of anything that isn’t you” fare, but the shooting is not necessarily fully mindless—this sort of thing is still fun after all these years. Basically, you are in a tank so armed to the teeth that even James Bond would go, in his sexy Sean Connery voice (easily the best VOICE for James Bond, although I like Roger Moore’s suaveness better), “Wow, wish I had that.”
The tank is controlled in a very FPS-inspired way. The tank and its turret move independently of each other, the keyboard controlling the former and the mouse controlling the latter. Its an interesting way to control the tank, and its works, on the whole, pretty well.
Your tank can be fully pimped out with not only the latest weapons such as lasers and nuclear warheads, but also with hovercraft, amphibious and sub upgrades that allow the tank to travel across previously impassable terrain. Unfortunately, this means you will only use them in the next level, and you can’t go backwards in missions to use the upgrade to find an extra crate of ammo or whatever. The upgrades are great, but they all handle exactly the same way and don’t offer much in terms of enlarging the scope of what you can do. Sure, you can now float across water or hover over large areas of lava,but, ask yourself, were you ever going to do think, “Oh gee! Lava! My tank can surely drive its easily melt-able metal casing over liquefied rock! That wont damage it at all!”
That being said, however, this game is extremely fun to play. You don’t really care about the vehicle transformation quandary whilst playing; the game is too hectic to worry about that. It’s also hard, but the good kind of hard. Not so hard that you end up putting the game disc into a microwave, melting it down, and then serving it up to the dog to make sure the game has died. You may get killed a few times on the first mission even, but that doesn’t stop you from trying again since the game is surprisingly tactical, which is a nice change from the other games like this. You can’t just run in all guns blazing and hoping that they will sit down and make you nice cup of tea while you blow their base to pieces. You do need to think about what you are doing.
The graphics are very nice for early 1999, and are rendered pretty well. The backgrounds of the levels are bland, but the enemies are pretty well done on the whole. The tank also looks good.
The story is one weak point, though. It’s one of the most pointless, overly ridiculous Terminator-esque stories I have ever heard, and the pre-mission briefings only make me want to exercise the angst with some form of pointy stick in the eye of one of the damn briefing team. That is, if you can see them through the forest of binary code 1s and 0s that plague the screen at any given moment.
Recoil is a simple game, with a layer of complexity and tactical awareness hidden underneath the straightforward gameplay. With many, many weapons to choose from and plenty of ways to kill, eviscerate, maim, destroy, desecrate and annihilate your enemies, it makes for some good shoot-’em-up fun. The difficulty may turn some people off, and people who want a game where they don’t have to think may be cheated a bit by the façade that the game projects of itself. But for people who enjoy a challenge, enjoy seeing lasers fly through the air, enjoy 1s and 0s or just want to shoot shit, this game is a good game to have in your collection.