Receiver 2 Review

April 30, 2020

Trigger Warning

In my gaming career, I’ve played a lot of shooters. Between the Call of Duties, the Medal of Honors, the Killzones and the Armas, I’ve shot virtual guns more times than I’ve gotten out of bed. But in all of these games, the one thing that every single one of them gets wrong is the simplicity of firearms. You press R to load a magazine, right mouse to aim down sights and left mouse to pull the trigger. That’s it, but that’s also not how guns work. Unlike most of the writers here, I’m an American, which to perpetuate a stereotype, means that shooting is something I do at least once a week. I’ve been shooting for most of my life, and in all of these years, I’ve learned that using a gun isn’t easy. There are a dozen little hand movements you need to memorise before you can pull the trigger, and even then, there’s a 75% chance that you’ll miss. This is something that no other game besides Receiver 2 tries to accurately show. 

In Receiver 2, you play as a receiver. You’re a genderless, nameless, voiceless thing who’s given a gun and send to a part of a city in order to find voice tapes so that you can ascend the Receiver organisation’s hierarchy. However, before you can worry about any of that, you’ll need to learn how to use the pistol that you’re given. You can’t just press R to load a fresh magazine and click on the various robots that will hound you in your search here. Instead, you need to start from the beginning. Unholster your gun slowly, open the chamber, eject any spent shells, load each individual round into the cylinder, spin it for good measure, close the chamber, make sure the gun’s safety is off, cock the hammer and bring it up to eye level. 

Aren’t we all just targets when you really think about it?

Once all of this is done, you’re ready to pull the trigger. But before you do, make sure to check everything else that needs to be checked. Make sure you aren’t firing into glass, double check that your gun is loaded, factor in a bit of bullet drop and be sure to have an escape plan in case you miss. As soon as you do all of this, you’re ready to fire. Provided that your gun doesn’t jam, you’ll probably hit the robot that’s standing in your way and you’ll be able to progress.

Although this all may sound tedious, in reality the core gameplay of Receiver 2 is stupidly engaging and satisfying. It takes a while to get used to, and requires more than a few looks at the game’s conveniently placed control list, but all this means is that it’s one of a select few games that you’re truly able to master. Like with a real gun, you’ll start by fumbling reloads and getting killed, but every reload is a learning experience. You’ll slowly learn the keybinds for your gun, you’ll memorise how many rounds it holds and how best to clear a jam with it. 

Then you’ll make it past the first level of the game and be given a different one. You start the game with a simple revolver, but with each new level comes another one of the game’s nine pistols. You may spawn in with a Glock, a Hi-Point Glawk 40, a Desert Eagle or even a Colt Single Action Army. You’ll have to learn the controls for each one of these. You’ll need to figure out how to clear jams and you’ll have to see what kind of damage each one can cause. 

I’m a rootin’ tootin’ robot-shootin’ cow-target

Once you’ve done all this, then, you’ll be able to survive long enough to uncover the game’s story. In each level, you’re tasked with collecting a number of audio logs. Each one of these logs provides a short clip that reads straight out of a Texan rewrite of Fight Club. You’re a receiver who’s part of an organisation that wants to overthrow a corrupt government. Instead of punching Brad Pitt, though, you need to learn how to use a gun so that you can be an effective member of the organisation. Without getting into spoilers, these audio clips are surprisingly engaging if campy, but add some nice context to the complex gunplay.

The graphics, too, enhance the gunplay. The game takes place entirely in one small vertical section of a city, but that section of the city looks surprisingly good. There’s a hospital, a construction site and more than a few dark rooms to explore. All of these, plus the game’s pistols, look anywhere between good and amazing.

This game was brought to you by Sauer Sig™

The only thing that takes away from the gun mechanics is the lack of diversity in the enemies and the level. Throughout the entire game, you only explore one small section of a city and you fight a small selection of enemy robots. Although there are plenty of guns to shoot at them with and plenty of different rooms to explore, the game is in desperate need of more. Once you’ve used all the guns in the game and gathered most of the audio logs, which only takes about two hours, there’s little reason to come back to the game. 

Despite this blemish, Receiver 2 is an incredible experience to play. For those familiar with firearms, it offers the best simulation of them that you’ll experience outside of real world experiences, like Simunitions. For those who aren’t, the game provides gunplay that’s likely to teach you something about real gun safety as well as shooting that’s genuinely fun to master.

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Receiver 2 is the only game that properly simulates how firearms work while also offering a campy story and nice-looking visuals.
Derek Johnson

Somebody once told me the world was going to roll me, and they were right. I love games that let me take good-looking screenshots and ones that make me depressed, so long as the game doesn't overstay its welcome.