STAFF REVIEW of Rubber Bandits (Xbox One)

Tuesday, December 21, 2021.
by Peggy Doyle

Rubber Bandits Box art I am a huge fan of single player games that have great characters and fantastic storylines. There is nothing quite like getting lost in a world and watching someone’s story play out in front of you. When you’re emotionally invested and cheering for that person on the screen, there is no better feeling. That being said, there are time when you just want to turn your brain off and mindlessly goof around with your friends, or gang up on them. This is exactly what you’ll get with Rubber Bandits.

Created by Flashbulb Games, Rubber Bandits is a multiplayer game where you participate in a sort of bank heist where your objective is to score the most loot in each level, then escape. The hitch in your plan is that there are also three other players trying to do the same thing. Ten items of loot in each level, four players all with the same plan, you can see how the mayhem and competition would escalate. There are three modes to choose from: Heist, Brawl and Arcade. You can play solo, with just friends, or online with random players. It has cross play enabled so this can help increase the number of players when trying to matchmake.

When you first jump into Rubber Bandits there is no tutorial, so you may find yourself a bit lost. Also missing was an explanation of how to simply get started in the game. I didn’t know you had to break out of your cell and drop to another floor and hit a toilet to change the mode you want to play. I just muddled around pressing buttons until I sort of got the hang of what I was doing. Since it is a fairly simple game, this didn’t take long. You can grab and use ‘weapons’ and throw items (or people). I put weapons in quotes because there are your typical shooter style weapons of guns, lasers, etc. but also melee weapons including baseball bats, sledgehammers, bananas and hotdogs. There is also the ability to use traffic cones and even rolls of toilet paper.

Heist, the first mode, is the bank heist. Each location shows you your entry point, the potential loot locations and your exit before it starts. Locations are your normal heist tropes of a bank, museum, etc. Once it starts you and your cohorts (or opponents) work to get as much loot as you can, and escape. There are ten loot objects in each level. Each match run until one person accumulates twenty-one loot points. This could be as fast as three rounds, or much longer if there is a lot of competition. Trying to decide what course of action is best for you is part of the chaos. Do you grab as much as you can and escape, or try to fight for a larger share of the loot? Any players that choose to escape will respawn as cops and try to hinder the remaining players still in the heist room. Cops can apprehend the criminals and steal their portion of the loot.

The second mode, Brawl, is a PvP deathmatch where each player has three lives and players use available weapons and their environment to eliminate the competition. First player to win three rounds wins the game. This mode was fast paced and fun, IF you could get players who stayed. Like any multiplayer game, there are those who will just ‘disconnect’ when they are losing. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the last player standing won, but that isn’t the case. On more than one occasion I was left in an empty lobby after players left. Eventually the game kicked me back to the lobby with none of my progress counted in these situations. Sad to see players not get credit just because some sore losers decide to bail.

Arcade mode is fundamentally a career mode. You will play through the levels with friends or AI players. Each level consists of you trying to loot and escape from cops who are there from the start of the level. At the beginning the AI didn’t move, so there wasn’t any competition. However, as you progressed through the levels the AI became more difficult to contend with. It was a gradual increase, but nice to have someone to play against. This mode was pretty boring when playing solo, but I had a few laughs when playing with friends.

When starting you have a choice of a few playable characters, from a traditional black and white striped convict, an old lady and even a banana, and there are many more you can unlock by simply playing the game and earning tickets as you progress. There are five skins available from purchasing the DLC content, there are four gold versions of existing characters, and a unicorn named buttercup. I won’t lie, I’m tempted to pay just for her.

Environments in the game were designed well, using height and obstacles in clever ways. Moving cars, levers, switches and random weapon spawns can flip the game and give advantages if you are lucky.

Now to some issues I ran into. I had a noticeable input lag. Reaction times really affected how my character faired in game. I could actively count 1-2 seconds of input delay consistently. This delay also caused me to hit buttons more than once, thinking they weren’t registering. This meant I would likely grab and then drop the item before I got to use it. I also had a few problems with matchmaking. I waited over 10 minutes to get a game at one point. Now, I know the game is fairly new, but with it being on Xbox Game Pass, I assumed there would have been lots of players out there. Maybe I was just unlucky. Because of matchmaking and lag issues, I played a lot of the game solo to really get a feel for the design and gameplay. This is a rather lonely way to play what is clearly designed as a multiplayer game. The online gameplay needs a bit of work. One huge positive for Rubber Bandits is that you can play with up to four people on one screen, making this a great game for playing when friends are around and want to have a bit of gaming fun. This genre of game isn’t something seen very often anymore.

The market for Rubber Bandits is clearly those who love similar games like Gang Beasts or Fall Guys, but it doesn’t really hold up against those. It was fun, I had a few laughs and I liked the premise, but it simply had too many technical issues for me to stick with it for very long. $26 Canadian is also a high price for this, in my opinion, but as mentioned earlier it is on Game Pass, so if you are already a subscriber it might be a fun way to kill a few hours.

**Rubber Bandits was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 6.8 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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