Gun Commando Review—Bang
The Vita was pretty much built with first-person shooters in mind. Unfortunately, the only big-title FPSs available are flat out turrible. Gun Commando looks to change all of that. Luckily for FPS fans, this collaborative effort between Green Hill, Abstraction Games, and Ripstone Publishing delivers. With slick, old school visuals and even slicker controls (as long as you’re using physical controls), Gun Commando delivers with nether-kicking force.
In the game, you play as Jack Bennett. Jack is a man’s man. He looks like a likable Matthew McConaughey and spews out one-liners like a somewhat likable Duke Nukem. One evening, Jack gets a phone call from his old buddy Hank McCoy. The conversation boils down to Jack agreeing to destroy the evil invading alien scum, using as many bullets and explosives as it takes. Once the conversation ends, the mindless violence begins.
Gun Commando pays homage to FPSs of yesteryear. Games like Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM. Tight corridors with enemies around every corner. The game is visually impressive. The environments evoke very simple, rigid, early 3D games, with vivid colors. The characters are colorful 2D sprites, with the story being told using a comic book style. The Vita’s screen makes it all pop. The soundtrack consists of metal. It sounds really good and fits with Jack’s character.
The game is very simple in its execution. You move, shoot, and slide. That’s it. But that’s all you need. The game controls wonderfully, as long as you’re using the physical controls. There is no input delay at all, which becomes very important in later levels. I found the touchscreen controls to be awkward and not very accurate. The left side of the screen moves Jack. Tapping the left side makes Jack slide, a maneuver useful for getting enemies out of your face. The right side controls aiming. Tapping the right side causes Jack to shoot. I’m sure that, with continued use, this may all actually work just as well as the physical controls, but it just wasn’t working out for me.
Weapons in Gun Commando work in a rather interesting manner. The more accurate you are, the more a meter builds up. Once the meter is filled, you get an upgraded version of your current weapon. When it fills again, you move up a tier. Missing shots causes the meter to decrease. Miss enough shots, and you move down a level or tier, depending on your current weapon. It’s a very shmup-like system. Be caught with a weak weapon in a crowd of tough opponents or with a boss, and it’s pretty much game over. In later levels, you learn to play very meticulously.
The game has no unlockables, achievements, or leaderboards, but it does have more than 20 levels, with 4 boss levels, and it keeps track of your highest score. The game isn’t too difficult as long as you keep a decent weapon, but it does present a solid challenge during the later levels. The only real negative thing I have to say about the game technically is the horrible lag that plagues the final boss. It’s so bad that I had to turn the sensitivity up from 3, my personal preference, all the way to the maximum.
Gun Commando is a triumphant love letter to the classic first-person shooter. It also proves that if the effort is actually put in, a good FPS is more than possible on the Vita. If it weren’t for the terrible lag that occurs during the final boss and the lack of any sort of unlockables or achievements to work towards, I would have given the game a perfect score.