by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Create, Share, Play
I initially got the chance to see Gunscape a couple of years back at PAX AUS. It was a game that had been part of the Indie Showcase, an area of the expo has focused on locally (as in Australia) made independent games. Since then, Gunscape has come quite some way. Gunscape is a first person shooter at its heart, but it is one that allows gamers to easily create and edit their own levels and scenarios for others to play. The blocky visuals make the game feel a little like it has been in development since the early 1990's rather than the few years it actually took, but considering that Gunscape is about the designing of new levels and scenarios just as much as playing through the campaign, I can certainly let this pass. Fans of old-school shooters such as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D will immediately feel a sense of nostalgia. The audio too, continues that nostalgic trend, with synthesized tunes throughout.
The campaign is a great way to get started in Gunscape, as it pretty much has everything in it, from the weapons to the enemies to the various environments. The campaign certainly allows gamers to see what design aspects the game has included, as pretty much everything appears at one stage or another throughout. The campaign itself has a story that feels like an homage to Portal. Each level contains at least one station that advises you on your current mission, and it feels as though Big Brother is watching every move you make. The weapons within the campaign scenario have a Doom look and feel. The weapons require the use of three different resources - bullets (for pistols, SMG and rifles), electricity (for lightning powered weapons) and radiation (for nuclear powered weapons). There are also some more primitive weapons such as a longbow that appear in a prehistoric scenario complete with dinosaurs. As well as moving through the campaign and user-made maps by themselves, gamers can also take on, Gunscape's multiplayer aspect. Levels can be played in co-op mode or as free-for-alls where it is every man for himself. Multiplayer modes include death match and capture the flag variants.
Make it yourself
But it is the fact that gamers can create their own maps that sets this apart from other FPS. As mentioned, the campaign shows off the plethora of design choices available. The developers seemed to have made a concerted effort to have wall and floor designs from a range of historical time periods and locations, so that map editors can plan scenarios for their designs. Already I have seen maps from various scenarios from GoldenEye and a scenario that felt like you were playing as an archaeologist such as Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. There are also a range of enemy units that can be placed within the levels, which can allow gamers to design scenarios around these units. For example, dinosaurs can be used to create a Jurassic Park type scenario, alien units can be used to create a sci-fi scenario, zombies can be used to create a Walking Dead type scenario or the soldiers can be used to recreate a World War 2 scenario. Like Minecraft, maps are only limited by the user’s imagination.
Gunscape is a heap of fun, both in designing levels to play and actually playing those levels and those already provided. But I do have some complaints. My first issue are the targets – it doesn’t seem to matter where you hit an enemy soldier, alien or animal, the damage is all the same. It would be nice to score a headshot from across a large chasm and for it to amount to immediate (or near) death of a standard enemy. Instead, hitting it anywhere will result in the same amount of damage. You can certainly pick off a far away unit, but the fact that they respawn after a reasonably short period of time means that they will most likely appear as you move closer to their position anyway and have to deal with them up close. So, a stealthy aspect to the game is diminished.
Secondly, is one aspect of the controls inGunscape. Personally, I found the controller to be quite cumbersome during gameplay and the design mode. Admittedly, I am primarily a PC gamer and found the aiming to be far superior when using the mouse to aim when compared to the thumbstick on the controller. The same goes with the design phase, as I found it much easier to select and place design objects with the mouse.
Part of what makes Gunscape a respectable game is the fact that the developers still have a strong community focus. In chat rooms, it can be clearly noted that the developers have taken note of issues gamers were having and have attempted to rectify the early problems. But the community are also helping to make Gunscape an enjoyable experience through the design of their own scenarios in which gamers can take part. The gameplay itself is quite basic as are the visuals and sound. Although I do have a few little concerns with Gunscape, the game is still more than adequate and will only get better as the community and developer interaction continues.
Simple to use map editor
Enemies respawn rather quickly. Damage is the same no matter where you hit an enemy.