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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action / Arcade

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Vanguard Games

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

August 30, 2011

 

 

- Simple but engaging gameplay
- Playful visual style
- Well done music and sound effects

 

 

- Not for people who hate “bullet hell” games

 

 

Review: Gatling Gears (PS3)

Review: Heavenly Sword (PS3)

Review: Ghostbusters: The Video Game (PC)

 

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Gatling Gears

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

gatling gears          gatling gears

 

I was a little late getting into the NES as a kid, so I had a very large back catalog to choose from when I hit the video store to rent games. I soon developed a passion for SNK's scrollers such as Ikari Warriors and Jackal, since they were usually two player and they were a good way to game with my brother. As the consoles grew older, it seemed to me that this style of game seemed to go by the wayside, which was a shame since it was so damned fun. I'm pleased to say that the fun is back

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with Gatling Gears.

If you needed only a single word to describe the visuals for Gatling Gears, "whimsical" would probably be the closest match. The color palette is bright with lots of primary colors and exaggerated cartoon style. It reminds me of nothing so much as a Saturday morning cartoon brought into three dimensions. There's a distinct

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steampunk aesthetic that goes for a fun and playful feel rather than the more sober Victorian tone that you might find elsewhere. Even so, the visuals also have a touch of authenticity to them. You can almost see how you could really build the mechs, the armored trains, and the various types of bunkers and observation posts. Beyond that, the special effects do a solid job of rewarding a player visually when they take down a large enemy or grab a power-up than amps up the damage done to the destructible environments. The sense of joy that you get visually speaking from this game is almost palpable.

There are highs and lows in the sound department, though the lows don't really seem all that low when you stop to think about them. There is some small amount of voice acting between the two player alter-egos, and some groans and cries of enemy soldiers, but this is a title that doesn’t really require expert and nuanced voice acting. The bulk of the audio is devoted to a variety of explosions, rocket launches, rifle reports, and infectiously bouncy tunes that almost perfectly match the action on the screen. It fades into the back of your consciousness, urging you on as you play, which to my mind is precisely how it should be for this sort of game.

 

gatling gears          gatling gears

 

Gameplay in Gatling Gears is about as simple as it gets: don’t stop moving, don’t stop shooting. Movement is handled with the arrows, aiming with the mouse, and shooting comes in flavors of cannon, rocket, and grenade. It’s you (and a friend in co-op play) against a seemingly endless horde of troops in multiple varieties, tanks, armored trains bristling with turrets, landmines, guard towers, bomb dropping gliders, massive mechs, and enough ordnance coming at you that you’ll think “bullet hell” would be a paradise compared to the frenetic waltz you’re trying to survive. Scoring is pretty simple. The more enemies you take down without getting hit, the higher your score multiplier goes. Taking a hit drops your multiplier faster than you can increase it, which demands a high degree of twitch nerves and situational awareness. Aside from temporary power-ups that appear which can help lay waste to the battlefield, you can permanently improve your war machine by collecting gold bricks which can be turned in to the local arms merchant at the start of each level. Additionally, clearing a level gains you XP, which slowly unlocks new paint schemes, special effects, and even companion critters to really pimp out your ride. Even after you finish a level, there’s going to be the self-imposed challenge of finding all the gold bars, beating the high score, doing more damage to the environments.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Gatling Gears is some sort of transcendent gaming experience. What it does is remind us why we started playing games in the first place: to have fun. No pretense of artistic or literary value. No outlandish attempt to make your GPU melt down from the number of polygons being thrown at you. Just pure and unadulterated fun. A rush of adrenaline as you dance between the bullets and make big smoking holes in the ground, saying to yourself, “I can’t believe I just pulled that off!” while your buddies over your shoulder or in your headset tell you, “Yeah, that was pretty damn cool. Do it again!”

- Axel Cushing

(November 24, 2011)

 

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