via Blue Isle Studios
Last week, I was able to hop into the closed beta test for LEAP – a fast-paced, aerial combat-focused first-person shooter from indie developer Blue Isle Studios. From the moment I stepped foot into the large, open arenas, I felt at home. LEAP has all the makings of other modern, successful team-based first-person shooters – almost like a hybrid of Apex Legends and Fortnite. However, I walked away from the beta excited about the nostalgic feeling that LEAP gave me, namely in the way that it feels like a spiritual successor to Tribes: Aerial Assault.
Released in 2002 for PS2, Tribes: Aerial Assault felt like PlayStation’s answer to Xbox’s Halo. Obviously, the latter went down as the far more successful title, but Tribes certainly had its own devoted player base – namely, PS2 owners who were fortunate enough to have the console’s network adapter to allow online play. I was one of those players, and if I were to have kept track of my time playing Tribes: Aerial Assault, I have no doubt that it would fall into the top-5 of my most-played titles. My friend and I would spend hours upon hours playing the aerial-based shooter where you could most commonly find us in enemy bases, sabotaging their systems and spawning areas with C4 detonators.
via Blue Isle Studios
LEAP provides far less opportunity for griefing other teams (which is a good thing), but it just feels like a revamped, higher-octane version of the Tribes franchise.
During the beta, I played a handful of matches that featured the Control game mode – teams were tasked with controlling the most points around the map before they ran out of resources. It was a familiar gameplay experience if you’ve played any other major FPS multiplayer title, but the wide-open maps and jetpack/hoverboard abilities provided a different type of flavor, especially when it came to combat.
An arsenal of guns, grenades, and special abilities are available to you, each one feeling good, whether it be its damage ability or its bullet drop (for those long-range shots). LEAP almost requires you to be constantly on the move, whether you’re running, hovering, or flying while shooting at the enemy team. It’s incredibly fast-paced and took a bit of getting used to when I first started playing. However, thanks to the lengthy (but not overly long) matches, I was able to pick it up with a few minutes of playing (and after a few deaths that left me asking, “What the hell just happened?”).
LEAP is a very team-based game. You may have some success as a lone wolf, but at least when it comes to the Control game mode, you’ll ultimately do better as a team. Even for its beta, Blue Isle Studios appears to have done well to create a game that is based in teamwork, which makes sense given that the game has been in development for ten years. Once I figured out that I needed to be a team player, I started dying less and racking up more kills en route to my team’s victories.