Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

WellPlayedWellPlayed

Review

Ready Or Not Review

I’ve never been so scared of multiple exposed openings

Do you remember 2005’s S.W.A.T 4 from Bioshock studio Irrational Games? Hardly, right? It’s been a long time between raids, but now we have a successor to the tactical police sim with VOID Interactive’s Ready or Not. This hardcore and unforgiving first-person shooter is set in the fictional not LA of Los Sueños and focuses on the police department’s skirmishes against everything from stream swatting, busting trap houses, foiling organised pedo rings, and delivering prophetic beanbag rounds to doomsday cults. It’s hard to precisely describe the tone of Ready or Not between its brilliant pressure-cooker standoffs and its sanitised, Hollywood-friendly police image. While VOID Interactive conducts a highwire act of trying to balance the terror of lethal policing within the medium of the oft-gratuitous video game, this cooperative experience somehow, admirably, manages to be both ironic and bleakly satirical. 

In this cooperative shooter, prospective tactical response officers can embark with other players or AI (only in Commander mode) across 18 impressively detailed and tight missions to bring order to chaos. Cooperative multiplayer is the main draw in Ready or Not, with a bent towards realism that includes team fire and the risk of being lethally one-shot by an eagle-eyed enemy AI with no option to respawn. It is an unforgiving and deliberately snail-paced shooter; players are stripped of the ability to sprint (unheard of for a modern FPS) and every doorway or window hides a potential shooter who can drop you and your team if your backs are turned. Weapon magazine capacity needs to be inspected between shootouts and every precious bullet is accounted for when prepping for a mission. Players may have to make compromises to their limited loadouts to secure a much needed additional clip when embarking on a mission. Heck, I had several occasions early on where I would be halfway through a raid and realise I was out of ammunition with no way to resupply. Without any mid-game respawns or resupplies, each of the excellently designed missions pressures players with five to thirty-minute bouts of high-stakes spatial puzzles that must be navigated with a thought to casualties, ammo preservation, and a grave concern for your fickle mortality. Rush into an open hallway or fail to check under the bed at your peril, it is not unusual to spend 90% of a mission as a ghostly spectator tied to your allies’ bodycams.

We had to sacrifice bringing additional ammo, instead opting for more party poppers

Communication and rapport within a squad are important, so it comes as a concern that Ready or Not makes it tricky to match with other players despite not having complicating factors such as weapon unlocks or progression. Outside of the single-player Commander mode, all players have access to the same armament and missions. In place of any traditional server browser or matchmaking options, players who opt into multiplayer will either host or load into the police station where they can then select the preferred mission and equipment. On the one hand, the game makes it as easy as possible to get into this game’s world as there is absolutely no frontloading, splash screens, menus or bullshit. It also means that choosing the option to connect to a public game is a stab in the dark that resulted in mixed experiences for me. If I hosted a game, I could be standing around in my police station for a while as players connect and immediately disconnect as they see me as a lone stranger with no identifiable stats or information. If I joined a game, the shoe would be on the other foot with a single player so excited to have me connect, they would immediately launch the two of us into a mission. As mission difficulty doesn’t seem to scale to the player count, conducting raids with two players usually isn’t ideal (as multiplayer doesn’t utilise the Commander mode’s support AI to round out the squad). Ready or Not seems wholly reliant on its communities forming outside of the game and then organising matches ad-hoc due to the complete lack of traditional multiplayer customisation and access. While the WellPlayed team had a wonderful time fumbling among themselves to pull off semi-successful operations, it was deeply concerning that I couldn’t reliably venture into this game’s online matchmaking and spontaneously experience this game firing on all cylinders.

Environments are all filled with an attention to detail that gives this title an emotional heft that elevates first impressions of Ready or Not

I mentioned above that there’s a single-player mode called Commander that functions in place of a traditional single-player experience, and it’s a much needed way of experiencing maps and warming to the unorthodox control scheme without imposing on the patience of other players. Without much fanfare, Commander mode presents an identical experience to the multiplayer of Ready or Not but with two key differences. The first of these is that the player is in charge of two pairs of squads, with each member having a key trait such as boosting morale, intimidating suspects to surrender, or providing medical assistance. Depending on how good you are with controlling and utilising the context-sensitive command system to order your four buddies around, they work well as either cannon fodder when sussing out levels or can be strategically used to launch pincer attacks and raid buildings from multiple entrances. When the AI commands work, they give way to an exhilarating solo experience that is charged with pulse-pounding tension. Far too often, though, you’re repeating the same order to clear a room as the team fails to recognise which doorway you’re pointing them at and just stand idly around. The other main difference to multiplayer is that your squad has a light morale system. If they see too many innocents or squad mates killed, they become anxious, underperform, and can be ordered to take time off for therapy. That jarring sense of irony pops up again when you discover that after unloading a clip on a teammate, your squad can turn on you and you can order them to execute you before you descend into occupational madness. 

Here to spice up the conference room

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



While the Commander mode AI struggles with orders half of the time, a more frustrating issue emerges when the enemy AI infrequently just gives up. About one in every four missions would end with me playing Marco Polo for fifteen minutes. Specifically, I would do laps of missions, stuck at the shuffling movement speed and crying out, “Put your hands up!” while seeking an armed straggler. Enemies will often move around the map, flanking the player and setting up ambushes. This leads to scenarios where you are both playing hide and seek, or the enemy has just lost interest in your threatening taunts and is chilling out in the office or toilets while you cautiously lap the building. 

The immersive and detailed environments are all filled with an attention to detail that gives this title an emotional heft that elevates first impressions of Ready or Not above that of mere police brutality and its inherent shock value. Each mission will have armed criminals that can be subdued non-lethally or with lethal prejudice, while the mission briefings are well written and voiced as to subtly instruct the player on the tools required for the scenario. Though some missions fulfil arcs against organised criminal cells, there’s not much focus on traditional storytelling, nor are there cutscenes. Yet, each environment is full of character, whether it is a biker gang’s hideout, meth lab in the woods, or hotel under siege, seemingly every surface feels lived in with details as mundane as decor, trinkets, and ambient diegetic noise that speak to the realistic lives of the people that find themselves traumatised by the armour-clad cops suddenly invading their space. And traumatic it might well be to the player as well, as the soundscape and feedback of the gunplay in Ready or Not in these environments is often uncanny and frequently, satisfyingly, unnerving.

VOID Interactive understood the assignment here

Final Thoughts 

As a successor to the S.W.A.T. games and tickling a strategic itch that Rainbow Six hasn’t scratched in years, Ready or Not nails the tension and tactical satisfaction that this genre prides itself on. Its single-player Commander mode is one of the better ‘training’ modes for a hardcore multiplayer game in years, though the wobbly AI can lead to many frustrating failures. With friends or a like-minded community, there’s probably no other tactical co-op game this engaging or evocative right now. It’s just a damn shame that the game’s matchmaking does nothing to nurture this experience.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

Click here for more information on WellPlayed’s review policy and ethics

Ready Or Not Review
The Anti-Payday
Nothing else hits that adrenaline button quite like slow-walking through hostile territory with your squad formed in a tight conga line.
The Good
Smart elements of simulation that increase tension and demand skill
Surprisingly excellent attention to environmental and kinetic detail builds atmosphere and immersion
Coordination and communication rewards with satisfying team play
Commander mode provides sufficiently good onboarding
Gunplay feels and sounds frighteningly impactful
The Bad
Slow player movement sucks when doing laps of levels looking for loose ends
Friendly AI struggles with all but basic commands
Matchmaking is missing a lot of features
7.5
Solid
Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.



  • VOID Interactive
  • VOID Interactive
  • PC
  • December 14, 2023

Ready Or Not Review
The Anti-Payday
Nothing else hits that adrenaline button quite like slow-walking through hostile territory with your squad formed in a tight conga line.
The Good
Smart elements of simulation that increase tension and demand skill
Surprisingly excellent attention to environmental and kinetic detail builds atmosphere and immersion
Coordination and communication rewards with satisfying team play
Commander mode provides sufficiently good onboarding
Gunplay feels and sounds frighteningly impactful
The Bad
Slow player movement sucks when doing laps of levels looking for loose ends
Friendly AI struggles with all but basic commands
Matchmaking is missing a lot of features
7.5
Solid
Written By Nathan Hennessy

Comments

You May Also Like

Advertisement