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The traditional first-person shooter is essentially dead in the water. The advent of 3D worlds and then the rise of the military shooter has condemned the Doom-esque titles that packed the shooter world with their machismo and heavy metal are beyond a dead species. This, however, hasn’t stopped Green Hill Studios and Ripstone from developing and publishing Gun Commando, a homage to everything that’s come before, as it seeks to return the FPS genre back to its roots.
Placing you in the shoes of a grizzled gun-toting veteran, Gun Commando tells the story of an alien invasion and your journey to thwart it with the power of guns. While it’s quite hard to tell a story through walking down corridors shooting things, Gun Commando tells its tale through use of some wonderfully drawn comic-book cutscenes created by Romano Molenaar. Clearly Ripstone’s aim was to bring back the genre’s roots. There’s no vertical axis to mess around with here, enemies always seem to be facing you as they make their papery thin approach, firing off perfectly spherical bullets as they go.
As you can imagine, everything looks really quite rough around the edges due to the mid ’90s visual style Ripstone have gone for. Usually this would be a bit of an issue, producing a game with – what some could consider – lazy visuals. Corridors are endlessly the same, textures repeat themselves, enemies all look alike and move alike, but that’s the point. It’s something that Green Hill have done very well to recreate too, especially on the PlayStation Mobile format with it’s touchscreen inputs alongside PlayStation Vita compatibility.
Interestingly, you don’t have a vast array of weapons to pick and choose from – which seems a little odd for a title positioning itself as a commando of guns. What it does have is a slightly addictive weapon levelling system that rewards accuracy. Every shot that successfully lands on target gives your weapon a boost. Once a bar is filled, your gun levels up and your firepower increases. It’s especially handy during boss fights – which are essentially open areas for you to pummel bullets into a meathead foe – as your weapon carries over to the next level.
There are some niggles with Gun Commando though. I haven’t found any reason to utilise the slide mechanic as of yet – although I’m surely missing something by not utilising it. Sensitivity is also a little erratic, with 1 notch being too sluggish on the Vita, yet two being far too twitchy to make accurate shooting. It’s probably been skewed that way for touchscreen devices and play – which is one problem the PlayStation Mobile platform has.
There’s nothing incredibly groundbreaking around it, nor overly revolutionary. But that honestly doesn’t matter. It’s not trying to be any of those things, it’s trying to be fun. And it does that very well indeed. It may be mindless, simplistic, slightly repetitive and over reasonably quickly, but Gun Commando is the perfect handheld throwback to first-person shooters gone by.
Audio/Visual – 3/5: Strong visuals for a ’90s throwback with pounding metal to compliment this timewarp.
Gameplay – 3/5: Simple yet effective. You’ll be hooked for a while, but may need a break instead of ploughing through to the finish.
Innovation – 3/5: A clever weapon upgrade system does away with the numerous weapons that traditional FPS contain.
Value – 4/5: For some pocketsized shooter fun, you can’t really do much wrong with Gun Commando.
Final Score: 3.5/5