Review: Totally Accurate Battlegrounds

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What happens when a joke stops being funny? Usually people get sick of it and move on, but that’s the opposite of what happens with Totally Accurate Battlegrounds. Your first couple games with your boneless flapjack of a shootman will be a giggle-fest of stumbling up stairs, flailing your gun all around your target, and dying in idiot slapfights over a flintlock pistol. Then the joke wears off, and you realize the wide-open map and the scads of guns and items make for a pretty good battle royale game. And a really fun one at that, because everything’s so floppy and imprecise you can’t really take it seriously, no matter how hard you try.

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Let’s pretend you’re not actually a human and are in fact some kind of bold new vat-grown life-form that has never heard of PUBG or Fortnite. TABG gathers up 50 willing souls and carts them out to a big open island of villages and castles and farms to kill each other. You make landfall in a flying boxtruck, from which you can launch yourself like a cannonball into the welcoming earth (there is no fall damage, rejoice!). Once you dust yourself off, you need to find guns, ammo, and supplies to defend yourself from the other blood-gargling psychopaths you chose to play this game with, you fool. Death boots you right out of the round to play again, and last rubber person standing wins. Oh, and if you try to hide from everyone, giant walls fall from the sky periodically to force you into closer and closer quarters.

It’s really very much PUBG, just with walls instead of death fields and jell-o people instead of people. You can carry three guns, one small, medium, and large, you can don body armor and a helmet, you can find grenades of all kinds, including silly ones that say things, and you can gather ammo and healing items to improve your chances. There’s a frankly incredible number of guns, from pistols and revolvers to every popular AR in existence to miniguns and rocket launchers to flintlocks and crossbows. They all work, they all have different mechanics, and they all take attachments like scopes and silencers. With that in mind, TABG cleverly gives you a single-player firing range where you can play with all of them to your mad little heart’s desire.

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Yep, it’s just like PUBG, except you can’t really count on your idiot avatar to do anything right. One of the “selling points” of the game is that everything is physics-enabled, including the flailing of your character. So when you try to aim or punch or jump or walk, instead of smooth, canned animations your guy is going to QWOP all over the place. It’s not so dramatic that you can’t do anything, but you’ll understand the first time you go to shoot someone and your gun acts like it’s taped to one of those dancing tube guys at the car dealership. Fights then become less life-and-death struggles and more smacking dolls together like a child until one falls over.

It’s all good for a laugh for a few rounds, and then you may notice an odd phenomenon take hold. With enough patience and practice, you will actually start to get your rubber shootman to aim and kill more reliably. The bouncing and flopping will still be there, but you’ll get used to it for the sake of pulling off ambushes and sniper duels. It’ll stop being so funny, and actually become a pretty decent battle royale game to put effort into. I mean, it has all the mechanics and weapon variety necessary, and the floppy physics actually help in a way by cutting down on frustration. After all, there’s no need to get mad if you die to your flappy-armed dude missing because everyone’s struggling with the same comedy of errors.

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Totally Accurate Battlegrounds succeeds on two totally different levels, being both a hilarious parody of the genre and a pretty decent attempt at it all at once. I still haven’t gotten tired of launching my guy into walls and trees at the start of a round, squirming over rocks and slapping your paws on everything. But then when the silliness wears off, it’s still a fun little game to take seriously for a few minutes at a time. You’ll get the same rush from reaching that final circle that PUBG gives you, but with less of an edge thanks to the ridiculous grounding of the game. For me it’s the best of both worlds, a joke I can laugh at and a multiplayer killfest I can put a little effort into, which is far more than I ever expected to get.

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