As someone who finds himself with an increasingly busy schedule, I appreciate a good downloadable game. A game in which I can pick up and play for 15 or 20 minutes and get something out of it and a game that doesn’t break the bank to buy it. Electronic Arts agrees, and a rep for the company told me they are trying to shake off a bum rap they received last generation - that they are a company that didn’t want to support the little guy. One game from “the little guy” is a top down twin stick shooter from developer Vanguard Games, founded by ex-Guerilla game developers, called Gatling Gears.
Sitting down to play the game in two player local co-op (it also supports online) I immediately was reminded of the Wanako developed Assault Heroes. Not only was it the same style of gameplay, it shared the look and feel of the aforementioned title. This isn’t a bad thing, not in anyway, in fact when I was asked what I thought of the game I simply replied - “This is my favorite genre of game,” grinned and evil grin and continued to blast away baddies on the screen.
Gatling Gears takes place on a world where two sides are constantly fighting for control of land and resources. One side, the Empire, is trying to put down another group called the Freeman. While you start the game as the Empire there may come a point where you decide its the Freeman who are on the “right” side of things.
In Gatling Gears you control a small mech that you can customize through upgrades - you pick up gears (your currency) throughout the level and then use this to increase your armor, speed, and add various weapons. Your character is always your character, so you can drop in and out of a friends game with your customized robot and help him sow the seeds of destruction in the game. In fact, that was the one stand out feature for me - everything seemed to be destroyable - and when it blew up it looked really good in doing so.
While controlling your character is pretty straight forward, left stick move - right stick shoot; there are some advance tactics and options you can do. The right trigger fires a volley of missiles that slowly recharge over time while another button launches a special weapon that clears the screen. You also have grenades at your disposal which you hold the left trigger and aim where you want to lob them. Any of these items, including your standard Gatling gun, can be temporarily boosted with in weapon powerups - one particularly impressive one is a powerup that turns your grenade into mini-nukes.
There’s currently around 30 planned levels in Gatling Gears through a wide range of environments. Each section of levels will end with a giant, multi-stage boss. These can range from a simple fortress with multiple turrets to a giant barn on a train that is hell bent on destruction. These bullet hell style scenarios are definitely ideal for co-op.
Like I said earlier, the twin stick top down shooter is my favorite genre of play. Gatling Gears looks to be right up the alley of anyone who loves those style of games, and it even adds some RPG-lite elements to make it addictive and replayable. I loved the sense of scale in my mech as I was able to crush guys and generally blow everything up in my path. I was told that everything you do in the game will be kept as a stat you can check later on. There's even a detailed scoring and multiplier system for the truly hardcore. It seems Vanguard Games really knows the way to my heart.
Gatling Gears launches this Spring on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN.