If you’re in the market for a team-based multiplayer FPS, there’s not really a shortage of options. And now, fighting its way into a category with some truly excellent games, is LEAP, a game that throws in some exciting yet familiar traversal mechanics to complement its running and gunning. But is novel movement enough? Does this new contender stand tall in the face of games like Overwatch? Let’s find out in this review of LEAP on the PS5.
This sci-fi competitive FPS is brought to us by Blue Isle Studios, a name that probably scratches somewhere at the back of your memory and conjures up a certain feeling of uneasiness. That would probably be because Blue Isle’s first game was Slender: The Arrival. Not a AAA experience by any means, but a mostly effective indie horror game that used its limited resources effectively.
Since that debut, Blue Isle have released a couple of games that would probably be described by most as “average”, but at least they had some kind of spark or creativity behind them. So, why the history lesson?
LEAP is their latest game, and somehow their least inspired one as well.
"From the moment you start LEAP, it feels pretty barebones."
From the moment you start LEAP, it feels pretty barebones. The Overwatch-like start screen presents players with LEAP’s handful of features, including its class customization, daily challenges, and the marketplace where you can purchase things like keychains for your guns, taunts, and other cosmetics with in-game currency. It appears that this currency is earned only from gameplay, as I didn’t see any options to purchase it and the PlayStation Store doesn’t have the game marked for microtransactions. This is a point in LEAP’s favor since it’s commonplace for paid games to have microtransactions on top of the cost of entry.
Another cool feature LEAP offers is crossplay between PC and PlayStation gamers, which opens up the competition pool considerably. If you prefer to not be decimated by keyboard and mouse users though, crossplay can be turned off from the start screen.
As for actual game modes, selecting the play option on the start screen brings up a few options: Special Operations, PVP, Server Browser, and Practice. LEAP doesn’t appear to force the tutorial on you, but I would recommend checking it out anyways before getting into the real game modes. There’s a little bit of nuance to the controls that I had some trouble with initially.
Now for the three main game modes. Special Operations is the mission-based co-op option, PVP offers up to forty-person battles (although I never saw a battle of that size), and Server Browser which allows players to find an open server with a specific set of parameters that can be set with filters. All the game modes you would expect are represented, with equivalents for capture the flag, team deathmatch, control point, etcetera.
"Functionally, LEAP is fine. It has everything you would want in a competitive FPS, and it’s not bad looking either. Just a little bland."
Functionally, LEAP is fine. It has everything you would want in a competitive FPS, and it’s not bad looking either. Just a little bland. The graphics are simple and the designs of the character models are forgettable. It’s definitely not pushing the PS5 hardware in any way, but there’s enough detail and visual interest to keep players engaged. Where LEAP doesn’t manage to stick the landing, is unfortunately where it matters most: its gameplay.
I played a round of Special Operations first, which didn’t really set high expectations for the rest of the experience. These missions are supposed to be co-op with online partners, and this first round did say that it had found a match for me, but I was still dropped into the mission by myself. This ended up not being too much of an issue as it seems that difficulty is balanced depending on how many players are in a match, because I was essentially a one-man army, taking shots from all sides but only sustaining minimal damage.
In another game, this might have been fun or empowering. But in LEAP, it really just felt like a shooting gallery. Enemy drop pods crash into the ground at a rate that should be overwhelming, but the enemies that exit that wreckage seem to just walk toward you or stand still and fire. There are no interesting tactics or much enemy variety at all to speak of. They’ll either have machine guns, sniper rifles, or rocket launchers, and that’s it.
Taking down wave after wave of mindless enemies was particularly easy in Special Operations thanks to the egregious aim assist. If you’re aiming at one enemy and decide to set your sites on another without destroying the first one, getting your reticule to move off of that first target feels bad. The aim assist is too sticky and unyielding. There’s no way to lessen the effect of the auto-aim, but you can turn it off. I didn’t notice this issue in PVP, which is a good thing. PVP matches were moderately fun if only because they bypassed the monotonous wave-based nonsense Special Operations devolve into.
"What’s not fun are technical issues, and I experienced a few of those in my time with LEAP. Connection issues are something you used to have to just accept with a game of this type, but other games have made great improvements in this area that LEAP doesn’t seem to take advantage of."
Both Special Operations and PVP matches take place in large open maps that were clearly designed for the larger matches LEAP advertises. I didn’t see matches of more than eight to ten players though, so the maps felt needlessly vast. But at least LEAP includes a few interesting ways to get around: mounts called PVs, and Attack on Titan-style grappling lines. I only used a hoverboard, but I saw some wild vehicles like a robo-moose, a rocket-powered innertube, and a very cool glider to name a few. So at least there’s a solid amount of variety in this area, even if they all control the same.
I found the process to summon your PV to be a little fiddly, and it just explodes when you begin firing which makes it unavailable until you respawn. Thankfully the grapple lines are always there for you, and they’re a ton of fun to use. It’s not as smooth as the Attack on Titan games and it’s definitely not as good as Spider-Man’s web-swinging, but being able to point in a direction, latch on, and zip forward was fun every time. Taking potshots at enemies as you zip by them is also very fun.
What’s not fun are technical issues, and I experienced a few of those in my time with LEAP. Connection issues are something you used to have to just accept with a game of this type, but other games have made great improvements in this area that LEAP doesn’t seem to take advantage of. I had several matches that were plagued with lag to the point that I left and tried to join a new one. When your entire game hinges on its online experience, the amount of trouble I experienced is game-ruining.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Cool traversal options; Colorful visuals; Crossplay.
Connection issues; Tedious gameplay; Bad enemy AI.