Gun Commando Review—Bang

Gun Commando 1

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.

Oh, Jack. You're such a character!

Oh, Jack. You're such a character!

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.

Bosses are the easiest way to get your weapon upgraded.

Bosses are the easiest way to get your weapon upgraded.

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.

The lag during the final boss is just turrible.

The lag during the final boss is just turrible.

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.


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16 Responses to “Gun Commando Review—Bang”
  1. Shazbots says:

    Awesome review man, will be getting this game soon. Can you save between levels? Anyways hopefully Kill Zone for Vita will be awesome, since is been made by Guerrilla games it should be awesome. Also Burning Skies wasn’t that bad but COD Black Ops for Vita was awful. There is still hope for the FPS sector of the Vita since the hardware is there to handle those type of games, the problem is that game developers are not willing to invest on the Vita because is not selling well. Make games for it man then it will sell, now days this morons prefer to make stupid casual games that u can pass in an hour or just made to waste time. A game like Gun Commando is an awesome welcome to the Vita’s library, and it should be a big example on how a FPS should be made on the Vita. Publishers need to take advantage of this awesome piece of hardware, and stop avoiding it like the damn plague.

  2. O says:

    Shaz, keepin’ it real!

    Yeah, the game saves automatically between levels.

  3. Shazbots says:

    Im playing this game right now (took a break to write this) and man is sooo much fun, it takes me back to games like Doom and Wolfstein and also Duke Nukem minus the naked babes lol. I’ve been gaming since the 90’s and my first FPS was actually Quake 1 for the PC, and Gun Commando takes me back to those fun glorious days of the beginning of FPS genre. I really hope this game sells well enought (it should the prize is right and the game is really fun) so a sequel comes out in the future. The makers of this game deserve recognition for this fun well made game that takes you back to those glorious days. Thank you very much!!

  4. Aaron Jean says:

    I don’t mean to discredit the game or the review, especially not having played it personally, but I could use a bit more justification for why the game deserves a 9 out of ten.

    Even by Wolfenstein 3D’s standards, the game seems pretty simple. Are there at least any secret areas or even voluntary weapon switching? At least Wolfenstein, essentially the first FPS, had those elements.

    To be an effective tribute to the 90s FPS era, shouldn’t you at least pay homage to some of the conventions that made the era so great? Like Duke Nukem’s open-ended level design and interactive world? Doom’s hidden doors and secret rooms?

    Take away the weapon leveling, and it seems to me nothing more than a very simple, cut-down shooter that wins by default.

  5. O says:

    “Take away the weapon leveling, and it seems to me nothing more than a very simple, cut-down shooter that wins by default.”

    You can reword that statement to fit just about every review on this site. I think the game is fantastic for a PSM title. That’s why my biggest issue with it is the lag during the final boss. I threw the lack of unlockables and achievements in as a negative because I know that that’s what a lot of people want. If I loaded up PSM titles with the distinct motive of tearing it apart for what it doesn’t have in comparison to a full game, no matter how new or old the game, I’d be even more disappointed with the platform than I already am.

    This is one of those love it or hate it type games, I personally loved it. Hence the 9. I’m not sure how I could have made that any clearer.

  6. Aaron Jean says:

    I could understand if those things I mentioned were platform limitations, but I don’t think they are. None of them should impact performance. Look at two FPS games in the Minis program – N.O.V.A. and Carnivores: Dinosaur hunter. Both run fairly complex engines with a few complex-enough mechanics. Surely it’s possible to do more with a PSM game?

    What makes it a love it or hate it type of game? Isn’t that a false dilemma? Can’t it be anywhere in between?

    I can certainly understand that the core action (shooting things) is very solid. But if it’s doing less than an FPS released in 1992 on less powerful hardware(heck, Wolfenstein came out on the GBA!), doesn’t that leave a little to be desired?

  7. O says:

    This is why I didn’t want to do ‘em… I lack the self control necessary to maintain the site’s integrity.

    Why did it get a 9/10? Because that’s the score I gave it. Are we done?

  8. Shazbots says:

    Well said O, reviews are just opinions of others and if you (the consumer) decide to use a review to dictate your decision of buying sth or not, then thats up to you. In the end a review is the opinion of an individual, the final decision is up to you. The game is only $2.70 so try it out and come up with your own conclusion. Good day Sir.

  9. Shazbots says:

    One more thing, is not right to compare Duke, Wolfstein and such other FPS full fledge out games from the 90’s, to a small PSM game. Even games like N.O.V.A are fairly simple, and it will be stupid of me to compare it to Killzone by saying “thats it play like Killzone, thats it have weapons like Killzone, etc.. Gun Commando has some hidden areas where I have found med packs, and the level structure fairly resembles and pays homage to the FPS of the 90’s. Gun Commando is the first FPS that I have played were the gun upgrades on its own by killing people with out making the player go into a menu to upgrade the weapon. This feature is cool and should be use in a full fledge out FPS to some extend. Thats all I have to say.

  10. Aaron Jean says:

    I absolutely don’t want to frustrate you or provoke you, O. As a fellow reviewer on the team, I’m just trying to give feedback about the review. I guess I have a pretty strong opinion of what a review should be, and to me, the 9-10 range should be reserved for singular games that either significantly innovate on or perfect a genre. Games that you’ll remember ten years from now and think, “Wow, that game was special.”

    In other words, I would expect some stronger praise for a 9/10 game than simply outlining basic controls and mechanics and calling it a triumph. What makes it truly special?

    Of course, you may not see scores that way. But it does tend to be the approach of the mainstream gaming press, and it’s my preference.

  11. Aaron Jean says:

    Perhaps I was wrong to bring this up in the public comments thread, though. I apologize for that.

  12. JeremyR says:

    Well, bear in mind, we are rating these games not as PS Vita games, but as PS Mobile games, which has a really low bar. Even for Mobile.

    Yes, it’s perhaps worse than a GBA game, but to be honest, PS Mobile is worse than the GBA. Okay, it runs at a higher resolution, but I think you actually had better performance on the GBA

  13. Aaron Jean says:

    That is a valid point. I had forgotten just how crippled the PSM platform really is, especially as far as 3D graphics go.

    Still, it can do some pretty impressive things in 2D graphics. Surge, which I’m currently reviewing, is one of the most visually-impressive 2D games I’ve played in a while.

  14. AG Awesome says:

    @ Shazbots

    “This feature is cool and should be use in a full fledge out FPS to some extend. ”

    Check out Resistance 3, where they integrated the Ratchet and Clank weapon upgrade system. It took that game to a whole new level and it is my favorite ps3 FPS game made to date. It actually made me despise the Vita one (where I originally didnt have any problem with it) because of how backwards it was compared to that gem.

  15. redlitez7576 says:

    this game is freaking great.I stand behind this review 100%.good job

  16. Shazbots says:

    AG Awesome: ” Check out Resistance 3, where they integrated the Ratchet and Clank weapon upgrade system.” I did play and still have Resistance 3, and your right that game has that cool feature, and is also one of my favorite games since Killzone 3. The only thing I didnt like about the PsVita game of Resistance, was the story it was meh.

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