In the world of twin stick shooters, it is almost impossible to stand out. Very few games break the mould in the arcade genre, and Gatling Gears is no exception. There is nothing truly awful about it, but there isn’t really anything exceptional about it either.
As one would expect from a game of this genre there is little to no narrative. Long (or perhaps already short) story short, the Empire is bad and you have to stop them from crushing your people into the ground by fighting back in your curiously AT-ST-like mech. The story is presented only through some hilariously bad dialogue and a few still frames between chapters. Gatling Gears’ campaign provides a decent play time of roughly five to six hours. The story divides itself into 6 chapters, each one containing five levels and containing several action packed encounters with infantry, tanks, and aircraft of all sorts.
Action is the key word here. Like any twin stick shooter, Gatling Gears is absolutely relentless in pace. So much, in fact, that the game almost demands to be played in short bursts. The frenetic pace is exciting, and I can’t honestly say I wasn’t almost always entertained by what I was experiencing. Your mech is equipped with three different weapons. Your Gatling gun is your most trustworthy asset, but you will soon learn that in order to survive, all of the weapons must be properly implemented.
This means you’ll have to be very familiar with the missile launcher and grenade launcher, and if you’re at the end of your rope you might even try the Static Bomb, which instantly dispatches every enemy on screen, but can only be used once per level. Rockets are aimed directionally for high-speed and good damage, while grenades are aimed in an arc for a high damage blast at a slower speed. Combining these weapons into one smooth play style can be a bit tiring at first, but as the game progresses they become easier to use, and also more powerful.
This is where Gatling Gears actually manages to pull ahead of its peers for a moment. Throughout each level there are hidden bars of gold, three in each level to be exact. These bars can be traded in after each level to upgrade your weapons for more power, or to increase your mech’s durability. The choices are all up to you, and upgrades can be easily interchanged after each level. Several unlockables are also present, including camouflage patterns, companion pets, and unique upgrades. It’s here that Gatling Gears surprised me, and I must say, it was quite enjoyable upgrading my character and gaining more power as the game progressed.
Although I enjoyed Gatling Gears, I have to add that this is a difficult game. That’s to be expected, obviously, but sometimes it is difficult for the wrong reasons. At times the screen can become so incredibly cluttered with missiles and bullets and explosions that it’s very easy to lose track of what’s going on. This can lead to some frustrating moments where you lose a huge combo bonus to one rogue missile you just flat out didn’t see. On normal difficulty the game presents a decent challenge, but if that’s not enough then there is a hard difficulty that will truly punish the unprepared. It should also be noted that, despite playing on a PC, this game is best enjoyed using a game pad — it’ll offer far better control and gameplay.
A silver lining can be found in regards to the occasionally over-saturated screen, though, and that is the fact that Gatling Gears is truly gorgeous. The colors pop right off the screen, and the art style is delightful. Enemies are quirky and entertaining, and the scenes inflict an impressive sense of scale, particularly in the numerous, well designed boss fights. The sharp graphics are let down a bit by the lukewarm sound, however. Music is flat and generic, and while the sound effects themselves are decent Gatling Gears’ soundtrack never truly succeeds in matching the intensity of its gameplay.
After finishing the Campaign mode, there are still a few options remaining. Players can take the game online and play cooperatively with a second player in Campaign or in a separate Survival mode. Depsite the fact that two giant mechs will make the game less challenging, the gameplay still remains hectic and fun. Online play was hit or miss however, with some matches working flawlessly and others experiencing disconnection issues. Leaderboards are also present so you can see how you stack up against the rest of the world.
Gatling Gears is a hard game to explain because it is bursting with a certain charm that makes it incredibly playable, but also cursed to be in a genre that has nearly been done to death. There are moments of brilliance sprinkled throughout that are sure to incite a nod and smile, while others will leave players a little flustered. Despite the issues present in Gatling Gears, it is good fun and at a great price. The game can also be activated on EA’s Origin service, which will introduce cloud saving to enable gamers to pick up their game from any PC.
If you haven’t dabbled in arcade shooters before, then you will probably enjoy Gatling Gears frantic gameplay, gorgeous graphics and undeniable charm. But for others, there’s a lot of stuff in there that we’ve simply seen before.
Score: 3/5 (About our rating system)
Review copy kindly provided by our sponsors GamersGate.