THIS REVIEW WAS WRITTEN BY DAVID RESTREPO
Gunscape is the latest indie game to ride off the coattails of this movement toward user generated content driven experiences. It differs from most other games of this type in that underneath it all, Gunscape is a first person shooter. It’s not an adventure game, a platformer, or some genre defining experience. It is a straight up shooter and the level editor provides ample tools for users to create multiplayer maps or singleplayer/co-op levels. It’s less flexible than something like a Media Molecule game, but the centered focus should provide the canvas for a solid shooter experience.
The act of creating is as simple to grasp as Minecraft. Levels are made up of individual blocks and each prop or item takes up one block of space. The user interface consists of a drop down menu with blocks, props, weapons, and enemies corresponding to specific themes including futuristic or dingy interiors, then assigning each to a shortcut bar that allows up to seven items to be instantly accessible. A lot of these themes come across as derivative with one in particular consisting of what appears to be assets pulled straight from Wolfenstein 3D while another is strangely reminiscent of Bioshock. Luckily, there is plenty of diversity to wade through, allowing for distinct environments and moods. The simple U.I. and creation toolkit makes building levels an immediately engaging process, though frustration may become a deterrent to some.
Once enough items were placed around the level, technical issues became a regular occurrence in the Playstation 4 review code we received. Screen tearing and framerate issues remained consistent in creation mode. The game’s editor even crashed a handful of times when we chose to test out a level after spending a good deal of time working effortlessly at it. With such outdated visuals, Gunscape wouldn’t look out of place as a mid 90’s shooter. With that in mind, there is no reason for such a poor looking game to have any technical shortcomings whatsoever. It comes across as rather lazy and amateurish. Such issues are nonexistent when playing through a level regularly, leaving a huge disconnect between creating and playing. That being said, any players willing to bare through the technical hiccups of creation mode will find a lot to like.
The accessible nature of the game creates a low barrier of entry for creation, leaving imagination and determination as the only obstacles on one’s journey toward publishing a level. This accessibility is Gunscape’s greatest strength as it opens the door for many more players to create well designed levels than is usually the case with user driven content experiences. Every person is capable of creating something at least competent and therein lies the problem–The user base. Well over two weeks past the official launch, it’s still difficult to find a decent amount of other players and levels. Refreshing the newest and updated maps doesn’t bring up as much new stuff as one would hope. There are some impressive creations on display, but not enough. At this stage, multiplayer levels are practically useless. After several hours of trying, the most players I’ve ever gotten in a single match was three(including me) out of the game’s total of eight. The developers claim user generated content is shared across PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Wii U, though even with this shared platform ecosystem, the community feels anemic at best.
Perhaps it’s a double edged sword, then, seeing as the act of playing a level in Gunscape is a wholly different experience than that of creating one. The enemy A.I., even with a recent update, is essentially brain dead. They follow very simple patterns of action and will occasionally stand still, allowing themselves to get shot. The weightless weapons provide no feedback whatsoever, making all shootouts feel mundane. None of the power weapons provide any impact either. Playing against human opponents in multiplayer matches is a slightly better experience in that they actually provide a degree of challenge, though each kill feels unearned. The core gameplay mechanics undermine what could have been a transformative experience, leaving behind a game that will satisfy a specific kind of person.
Gunscape isn’t the most satisfying game in the world to play. The shooting mechanics leave a lot to be desired, though all is not gloom and doom. Gunscape is one of the better “podcast” games. Fire up creation mode, place blocks, and listen to a podcast, video, or enter a party chat with friends. The hours will pass by much more quickly than you may expect. Don’t come into Gunscape expecting an incredibly fun shooter with endless replay value. Come into it expecting a relaxing outlet for when you want to just turn your brain off and create something. Maybe even leave a session open for up to twelve players and see what happens.
- Simple user interface
- Creation mode is accessible, but also extensive enough to engage
- Perfect "podcast" game
- Underwhelming shooting mechanics
- Stupid A.I.
- Performance issues in creation mode
- User base isn't there yet