We've yet to see a Twisted Metal title this generation so here's a new vehicular combat game to try and fill the void. However, is it really worth playing after you remove the edgy subject matter and Rob Zombie from the mix?
Hardware: Rivals consists of online-only competitions where you drive around and try to destroy your opponents with weapons. After the comprehensive yet not too drawn-out tutorial, you'll realise that it's all very simple to understand. You basically drive as you would expect where one stick steers and the other aims your turret. Tapping a button shoots your standard weapon and another one fires a secondary weapon. These secondary weapons come in the form of collectable power-ups and they're necessary if you want to do any serious damage. If you take too many hits then you can always search the arena for health and shield power-ups. Although this has all been done before, it's great to experience how responsive and intuitive the controls are. Thankfully, joining an online match is as simple and easy as the controls. You just select whichever mode you want to play then you're either thrown into the middle of a match in progress or you get to start a fresh one within a minute or two. I rarely found myself getting impatient while waiting for matches to start which is a huge relief from a lot of other titles on the market.
A distinct visual style helps Hardware: Rivals create a consistently cartoonish yet merciless atmosphere. It actually reminds me a lot of Borderlands where it comes across as a 3D cartoon yet all you do is shoot people. That being said, this is a lot more family-friendly. Anyway, the environments are rendered with crisp polygonal structures and cohesive colour schemes that are quite pleasing to the eye. The audio does a great job of providing satisfaction whenever you blast your weapons and take down your enemies. Combined with a cool electronic music soundtrack, it really makes you feel like kicking some butt.
My biggest issue with Hardware: Rivals is that the gameplay simply isn't enough for 2016. Driving around in massive arenas while shooting at opponents is such a basic formula yet very little is done to make it exciting. The most interesting event is when someone triggers an environmental catastrophe that has the potential to wipe everyone out. These include such hazards as the ground freezing or fire raining down from the sky. Luckily, you can avoid being harmed by driving to a safe place. Even with this feature, the gameplay remains too boring for a competitive online game. I found myself constantly getting distracted since it just couldn't hold my attention.
The next most significant flaw is the poor amount of content. For example, you only get to choose between four vehicles. Speaking of vehicles, they're incredibly imbalanced. Tanks are a lot tougher to take down than jeeps and they also have the potential to cause a lot of damage with merely their primary weapon. One of the tanks moves quite fast, too, so if you want to win then just keep picking it. The modes aren't that varied either with only battle royal matches and team events including death matches, elimination, and capture the zone. Other modes may get introduced given time, but what's available at its core is far from impressive. With only five arenas to play within, you'll likely see and do all there is within an hour or two which is unsatisfying to say the least.
Hardware: Rivals is a solid vehicle-based battle arena game but it's weighed down by its lack of content and uninspired gameplay. If you decide to download it then keep in mind to pick the Sledgehammer tank because that's one tough hunk of junk.
- + Intuitive and responsive controls make gameplay simple to master
- + Easy to jump in and compete online
- + Unique visual style and satisfying audio
- - Very dull and generic gameplay for a competitive online multiplayer game
- - Bare-bones amount of content
- - Vehicles are exceptionally imbalanced