If you haven't heard of the development team Edge of Reality, chances are you' might’ve still come across something they've worked on.  They've been developing since the Nintendo 64 days, starting out with ports of Activision hits like Spider-Man and the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games, before moving on to other franchises and eventually working with BioWare on Dragon Age: Origins for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  But with Loadout, a game they proudly showed off a few weeks ago at PAX Prime in Seattle, they managed to break free from the franchises and show just how diabolical they can be when they put their minds to it.

At first glance, the game almost appears to be a variation on the Valve classic Team Fortress 2, with plenty of emphasis on team play and character design that looks strikingly close to those classes.  However, upon playing it for a few minutes, you'll see that it has its own agenda, with not only the means to create your own ideal soldier and weapon, but also using them to deliver a whole new level of comical bloodshed.  Sure, it's messy, but it's also downright hilarious.

Like Adhesive Games is doing with Hawken (which we previously previewed a few weeks back), Edge of Reality is making Loadout free-to-play, with only a few Microtransactions.  However, these aren't fashionably lame, nor are they required to get the most out of the game.  They simply allow players to purchase goods when they're not in the mood to root through sub-menus to snag them.  An Edge of Reality rep explained that everything in the game eventually becomes available if you dig through enough of it, without needing to spend a penny.  That comes as good news for those looking for a Steam-based experience without drudging through their wallet for cash.

Anyway, there are three aspects to Loadout, as we mentioned above.  The first is soldier customization.  Here, you're given a variety of options when it comes to putting together your ideal gunman.  This includes everything from facial details and body builds to what you outfit your player with.  Want to go for a stars-and-striped colored biker outfit paired with a Barry White-style beard?  On a chick, no less?  You have the option.  Then there are the "normal" options, if you feel like just running through a game.  But when you have time, definitely invest in character creation.  You'll be busting a gut in laughter when you do.

Moving on, we have the crafting system, where you can put together your ideal weaponry using a number of parts.  It's not just a matter of cosmetic changes that make your gun appear more bad-ass, but also the little things that make it perform in various ways.  These include swapping out things like the stock, the chassis, the scope, the projectile your gun fires, the barrel, and even something as simple as the trigger, which changes the performance remarkably depending how you have it set up.  You could spend hours alone tinkering with weapons and changing out parts, then seeing how they fare in battle.  We only got to try a couple of sessions, but the weapons we tried out were rather cool, leaving us interested to see what else we can choose down the road.

Finally, there's the action itself, and it's team based, as you work with others on the battlefield to eliminate your opposition.  Doing so will actually help you unlock more goodies to use in both character and weapon customization, so it's highly recommended you keep building up your skills.

The way that Loadout's action takes place is in a frenzied, comical style of setting.  The action is quite serious when it comes to pinpoint accuracy and fast movement, but the execution of your enemies is ridiculous at times.  We performed a head shot on someone and they actually took the time to feel about the stump where their noggin used to be before collapsing on the ground.  The game has plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments like this, and it makes us wonder if the final release will have the commentary to match, maybe even with some Saturday morning-esque sound effects for good measure…like the WHAM! of an anvil or something.  Speaking of which, I wonder if I should build anvil grenades.

While Loadout's visual style does borrow a little bit from Team Fortress 2, it's a fast-moving game, and the maps we played on were a lot of fun, offering bits of variety and plenty of spots to take shots at enemies on.  The little visual effects from the weapons are great, too, and, as expected, there's plenty of carnage to go around.  Let the blood spill!

It's good to see Edge of Reality break away and do something with their own time, even if it's devious and ridiculous as Loadout.  We're looking forward to seeing how the final game unfurls when it releases on Steam later this year.  Yay, free-to-play!