Published on June 3rd, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey
Gatling Gears Review
Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade
Price: 1200 MSP ($15)
Developer: Vanguard Games
To me there is nothing more satisfying than laying waste to thousands of enemies with an arsenal that any ’80s action flick would approve of. Which is probably the reason why I almost immediately liked Gatling Gears, a little Xbox LIVE Arcade game that isn’t shy when it comes to firepower.
If you’ve played twin-stick shooters before you should feel right at home when starting up Gatling Gears. The left stick moves your walking mechanical death machine-or Gatling Gear if you prefer-and the right stick fires in the direction pointed. By default, the right stick fires a machine gun, useful for chipping away armor or dropping foot soldiers that get cocky. Tapping the right trigger fires a cannon, great for armored enemies, and holding the left trigger creates a moveable target that, when the trigger is released, drops a powerful grenade from the sky, causing damage to anything around the impact area. If things get too intense, you are given a single bomb that can wipe out every enemy on the map.
Besides the machine gun, the more explosive options in your arsenal are limited in use. They can only be fired so many times before the need to recharge. The cannon can be fired five times and the grenades three. Instead of allowing players to drop grenades like explosive rain, this allows for more strategy during battles by limiting the more powerful weapons to appropriate targets.
Many enemies in the game fire in patterns akin to something seen out of side-scrolling arcade shooters. In fact, there are some missions where the screen fills up with so much gunfire the game resembles a classic gut-clenching bullet hell shooter, where you have to madly dance around enemy missiles and dash through gaps of fire while leaving an oil trail on the ground. These moments can get real hectic real fast. So much so that during some missions, namely near the end of the game, you’d have better luck dodging rain than getting through an area unhurt. A part of the reason is because of the way the camera is angled and the mech’s wide hitbox will cause the game to register a hit even when, to me, it looks like I dodged.
The first four of five missions in a playing field are standard levels with the fifth being the boss battle. Bosses in Gatling Gears are huge monstrosities with more gun
Powerups occasionally pop up to give you an edge against some overwhelming odds-while creating a few solid craters where enemies once stood in the process. Weapon powerups temporarily overcharge a weapon-machine gun, cannon or grenade launcher-giving it the power to wipe out anything dumb enough to appear onscreen. The overcharged grenade is easily my favorite. One is enough to turn anything, from soldier to tank to flying machine, into fine black ash with a small nuclear explosion. There is also an invincibility powerup that is fairly self-explanatory.
Collecting gears from fallen enemies adds to a point multiplier which is used to delegate experience points at the end of each mission. Taking less damage and earning a high multiplier count will give experience points that go toward upgrading your Gatling Gear with color patterns, effects or pets. The pets are practically useless, only following you around the field. Gold bars scattered through each level (three in regular missions, one in the boss mission) let you upgrade your Gatling Gear with bigger, badder weapons. You can upgrade your machine gun to shoot further and take more damage and increase the damage of your cannon and grenade launcher. Gold bars can also be spent on armor for added health.
You can’t go through the entire game and collect everything so backtracking is highly encouraged. Going back and replaying difficult missions with better weapons and more health can yield a much better score and ultimately more experience points.
The game supports mutliplayer in the form of a two player co-op mode throughout the 30 mission campaign. The co-op mode helps to ease some of the more challenging fights and makes the game even more fun. There’s nothing like dishing out mass destruction with a buddy. There is also a survival mode that pits you against waves of oncoming enemies.
Gatling Gears is as beautiful as it is explosive. The game has a great steampunk artistic style with great graphics. Just playing through the missions after the prologue is enough to convince anyone that Vanguard made one pretty shooter. I can’t say the same about the story, however, which is somewhat disconnected while attempting to offer a morality lesson on the evils of modern industry and imperialism. I believe this is the running theme with all of Vangaurd’s games in the Mistbound universe.
For the price of 1200 MS Points ($15) Gatling Gears is a little pricey, especially considering it took me around five hours to beat. However, if you’re a big fan of twin-stick shooters complete with full co-op options and huge explosions (who isn’t?) then you might find Gatling Gears to be right up your alley. With heavy weapons, full co-op, great graphics and good replayability, Gatling Gears is one of the better options for twin-stick shooters available now on Xbox LIVE Arcade.
+ Twin stick shooting at its finest.
+ Great graphics.
+ Good replayability.
+ Co-op through the campaign.
– Dodging can get frustrating.