Gatling Gears is what you get when you mix one part old-timey war game, a quarter cup co-op, a foundation of twin stick shooter, and some interesting design choices on the Xbox LIVE Arcade and Playstation Network. How well do these ingredients work together? Well, that’s what we set out to discover.
Visually appealing in many ways, Gatling Gears was tempting from first glance for me. I mean, who doesn’t want mechs in a WW1 type setting? I was geared up and ready to go after what I saw. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to carry a game all the way through the rings, so what else do we need? A variation on the Superman theme to get us into the game from the start menu? Maybe. How about some lush environments? Getting warmer.
Oh right, co-op. There is a fantastic co-op element that loosely ties into the story, as you start the game as two older mech operators working for “The Empire” ready to crush “The Freemen.” This part of the story (the prologue) really bothered me from a writing standpoint, but don’t worry. One of the pilots has a change of heart and begins fighting for the Freemen before too long.
During your time with the Empire however, you’re faced with an interesting design choice. The enemies will be various colors invading an Empire facility - but the Empire tanks, and soldiers will also be shooting and seemingly attacking you as well. It becomes incredibly difficult to figure out who exactly you should be shooting at early on. It’s a good thing the Freemen aren’t very strong at that point, otherwise you’d be in a world of trouble.
After the change of heart from the Empire mech operator, you meet up with a new character for Player 1 to control. It’s a younger, more rebellious Freemen who endears the older operator as a good person - even though he’d been crushing their forces for the first part of the game. That is, until you reach the boss. Each chapter has a boss that appears in 3 parts (green health bar, yellow health bar, and red - each increasing in difficulty).
There were also some unique enemies based on the area you entered, such as tree harvesting machines in the forest, or blimps over the city - though they might be more interesting to the game if the story had some fleshing out in this regard. As it stands, most of the dialog happens during sequences where you’re either fighting, or trying to watch where you’re going so you’re not really reading what’s going on. Mechs are finicky things to pilot, they are.