You’ll remember that most physics-based brawlers are measured by Gang Beasts around here, and Rubber Bandits, from Flashbulb Games, falls into that category. Yet after binging on this over the weekend, it’s very different. First of all, you have more control over your crims.
That’s right, fellow law-abiders, you play predominantly as a criminal here, and I’d have it no other way. That said, you can respawn in some of the stages as a cop to foil your opponents. Make a mental note that this review didn’t cover the online mode as it doesn’t appeal to me. Luckily, the local player element is splendid.
There’s nothing to report with regards to a story. In Rubber Bandits, you have to steal the loot and skedaddle. At the start of each level, there be an overview of the map: your point of entry, the loot location, your exit plan and anything else that might be worth investigating.
While there isn’t a timer in Rubber Bandits, once you snatch a hefty wedge, the elite forces turn up to ensure you can’t get away, so it’s encouraged to grab what you can and run. With three health points, once they’re gone, you’re out, or, if another member from your team escapes, game over. Assuming you’re playing in arcade mode.
Arcade is quite lengthy as you play all of the 25 levels in one go. Methinks. Without a difficulty setting, the assumed challenge was playing against strangers as these stages weren’t much trouble. But before that opinion could gain any traction, it got more demanding, and we were lucky to get away with our arses, let alone any money.
The controls in Rubber Bandits are straightforward: pick up/throw, jump and attack. Attacking is a simple swinging punch, or if you have a melee weapon like a pickaxe or “laser sword”, it’ll knock whoever pretty damn far. The real fun comes from throwing as it’s unbelievably accurate, and you can take out the initial beat cops or rival thieves with whatever comes to hand: doughnuts, katanas, chairs… you name it.
The strategy for arcade was to eliminate the beat cops, then one of us would grab the money while the other would wait near the exit. Should the person(s) carrying the cash get downed, the one by the exit would leave, keeping our career intact. You don’t fail without money, but you have to repeat the stage if all of you die.
What’s the point of money in Rubber Bandits? You can unlock more characters! That’s always an incentive, but it’s purely cosmetic. Some characters are expensive, which means playing stage after stage, but basing it on the fun involved, unlocking characters will be a doddle.
Besides the arcade mode, there are heist options and knockout based brawls with or without teams. A surprise addition is an armoury where players get to play in a sandbox-like room for exposure to all the weapons. There’s no goal, time limit or health gauge. In the end, this was our go-to place to have fun destroying everything and abusing every weapon in the game.
Compared to Gang Beasts (again) there’s no wrestling with the controls – this isn’t an unpredictable spell of hoping for the best. Because the guns are so accurate, as is the throwing of objects, player balancing is excellent – even without a difficulty setting. For that reason, Rubber Bandits is a thrill to play as a party game.
It could do with a few more modes. While there are quite a few stages, some are too similar. This isn’t necessarily bad, but I wonder how this will play out for Rubber Bandits in the long term. That said, I reckon we spent a couple of hours playing just the armoury section, and that’s fundamentally an add-on. I prefer this to Gang Beasts at the moment – probably because it’s so much more responsive and satisfying with the weapons and precision. Will we be playing in a few months? We’ll see. In the meantime, it’s a recommendation from moi.