Title: Gun Commando
Developer: Ripstone, Ltd.
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download: 59 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download
It’s easy to see Sony being overshadowed in the Mobile community. With the vast amounts of games and developer support coming to platforms such as iOS and Android, it’s kind of hard not to be overshadowed when you’re not them. But there’s a fair amount of games available for PlayStation Mobile, which can be played on Sony tablets, phones, and of course, the PlayStation Vita.
The nice thing about the Vita being able to play PlayStation Mobile games is that there is controller support, so you can play Mobile games with the PS Vita’s buttons, rather than relying solely on the touch screen with touch controls. Those are very hard to get used to and, in some case, not as good as physical buttons, when it comes to reaction time.
This talk about PlayStation Mobile leads me to my first review of a PlayStation Mobile game. Today, I will be reviewing Gun Commando, a casual shoot-em-up game available on PS Mobile.
Gun Commando is a game with a very simple plot and a simple way of playing, as Mobile games usually are. It’s a game that is easy to pick up and play when you’re on the go, but also offering an experience some gamers will immediately recognize. The game is only 78 MB after being installed, so those with smaller Memory Cards needn’t worry about space issues.
The story of Gun Commando is pretty much just thrown out at you and assumed as the game progresses. To give you a bit of a synopsis, aliens have invaded a specific portion of the Earth. They’ve gathered in a few locations, and they need to be driven away, or exterminated. Your character is recruited to do this, after there is some dialogue stating that he had fought these aliens the character calls “bugs” before.
The storyline stays to a minimum, though there is a little big of a plotline here. You follow the invasion from a car garage all the way to a laboratory, with the goal of driving them away from Earth and/or eliminating every last one of them.
I will admit that I was not impressed at all with the story. The dialogue is riddled with clichés and it has a very violent tone to it. For the kind of game it is, it works, but if you don’t like jerky, violent types, you will not get along with this game’s main character.
Gameplay is where the meat of this game is. First of all, let me say one word: Doom. That’s right. Doom. If you can think back and remember playing the PC game, Doom, then you already know how most of this game works. Now, I am not talking about Doom 3. I am talking about the PC game from the 90’s. One of the games that set standards for shooting games. ID Software’s beloved game, Doom.
Gun Commando plays very similar to the way Doom played. You are running around a map of hand-drawn locations and enemies and your goal is to gun down anything you can see, picking up Medical Packs to restore Health, and collecting keys to access new areas. . The target point cannot be moved up or down. It stays in the very center of your vision and only moves when you turn left or right, or strafe left or right.
Apart from movement and shooting being like Doom, there are other elements this game pulled directly from that. As I said earlier, you can find keys to open locked doors. The doors are locked and colored, and colored keys open doors of the same color. Even the Health Maximum, 200% is the same as it was in Doom. The entire time I was playing this, it felt like a less complex version of Doom. Even the enemies fall and die like the normal soldier enemies do in Doom.
The game’s uniqueness comes from it’s weapon system. You only have one weapon throughout the game, a handgun. However, the uniqueness comes in that the gun can evolve and be upgraded. At the top right corner of the screen, you see a gun, along with it’s Level and a gauge below. Every time you strike an enemy, the gauge moves up a little bit. If you fill the gauge completely, the gun will “Level Up” and upgrade itself, increasing it’s power and changing it’s appearance.
The downside to this is that if you shoot and do not hit an enemy, the gauge goes down. While you cannot undo upgrades, it can be hard to gain back that bit of “experience” when you lose bar portions at the higher levels. The game encourages you to be careful and make sure every shot that’s fired hits an enemy.
The game progression is made through levels. You start out in a level and must traverse it in order to find a Green “Exit” area. Once you find this area, you will complete the level and be graded, based on how many enemies you defeated of the total that were in the level. Defeating more enemies nets you a higher score and a higher rank before heading onto the next level.
There are four main areas, each containing five levels and a Boss level. Once each Boss level is completed, you gain new scenes for the story, and then move onto the next area. It’s pretty simple at first with short, small maps with minimal enemies. Though, the difficulty and level length slowly increases as you play the game and, once you get to the final area, the game is much harder to finish. In the final levels, it is easy to be overwhelmed by a horde of enemies and quickly lose even a full 200% health in a matter of seconds.
As far as length is concerned, it offers a decent amount of game time, for what it is. However, don’t expect console standards from a game that is supposed to be on a Mobile platform. I would say the game took me about two or three hours to finish. That is definitely not a very long game, but for something normally only a couple dollars, what more can you expect?
I will say one thing. It is good for quick bursts of casual play, but too repetitive to sit down and play through all at once. It’s better taken in bites than all at once.
The biggest fear about playing Mobile games is being forced to use the touchscreen to control the game. Luckily, PlayStation Mobile games have complete support for the PlayStation Vita’s buttons. There are two ways of playing Gun Commando. One way is with the touch screen, and the other way is with the Vita’s buttons. It is possible to play through the whole game without ever using the touch screen.
Touch Screen controls give you control of your character’s walking through the bottom-left section of the touch screen, while you can turn left or right by sliding your finger across the bottom-right corner or the touch screen. Along with this, you can fire your weapon by tapping the bottom-right corner of the touch screen, and slide to knock enemies by double-tapping the screen pretty much anywhere.
All of these controls also have button options you can use at any time. Movement and looking left and right are controlled by the Left and Right Analog Sticks, respectively. Firing the weapon is triggered with the R button, and the Slide is controlled by hitting the L button. You can also bring up the menu with the Start Button.
Of the two control methods, I prefer using the Vita’s buttons, especially when you need fast reaction time towards the end of the game. It’s not all wonderful, though. You can’t disable either control configuration. They’re both active at once. I had a lot of trouble with accidentally hitting the screen and having my character fire their weapon when using the Right Analog Stick. This hurt my gauge to upgrade my weapon and it happened several times when I was playing the game.
As I said earlier, the game is set up in arenas of hand-drawn locations. While the hand and gun for the player is clearly just a 2D piece of art placed on the screen, the environments have a big of a 3D effect to them. They have models that do look completely in 3D, though each just have flat drawings on top of them. The weapons and enemies have a 3D effect when they’re moving and when they fire shots off, but most of the game looks like a 2D Doom-like shooter.
This is not a bad thing. Despite the simplicity of the environments, they are all drawn and places very well. There are very few jagged edges. No blurry objects. Everything looks almost perfect, down to the signs in the mall that detail a 50% Off Sale. For the style of game it is, it looks very well drawn and rendered.
The music is also fair quality, and to a certain taste. When you play this game, I hope you like rock and heavy metal, because that’s pretty much the only kind of music that will be playing throughout the game. The music quality is definitely of good quality and has some engaging rock and metal instrumentals, that’s all there really is. Anyone who isn’t a fan of hard rock should probably turn the music off when playing. There isn’t a lot of variety beyond that.
Overall, I enjoyed this game. The Doom-style gameplay drew me in quick and fast, and I really got into playing it. While the game does have some faults. The controls can clash with the Right Analog Stick, the repetitive gameplay discourages playing the game all in one sitting, and it is a very short game. Despite this, it’s a fun pick up and play game for those itching for a Doom-like shooter on the go. For the fun gameplay, I would rate Gun Commando 7/10.
- Gun Commando, Mononoke Slashdown free on PS Mobile (joystiq.com)