Gunscape presents us with the simple concept of a combination between the building features of Minecraft‘s creative mode and the typical gameplay of an old school first-person shooter such as Quake or Doom. Unfortunately, whilst the game is comprehensively packed full of modes and features and the building element is powerful, the game suffers from some major gameplay flaws and looks unforgivably terrible.
This contrast is actually what makes the game such a bittersweet disappointment. Clearly, any FPS fan would love to create an almost limitless array of levels themed around their favourite games, and that is exactly what Gunscape offers. However, the joy of doing so evaporates almost instantly upon loading a given level, because everything looks so God-awful and doesn’t play much better. Honestly, there is a reason why 8-bit consoles aren’t remembered for their first-person shooters, and Gunscape exemplifies it.
Here’s what I liked:
Loads of features — Although I’m highly critical of the gameplay and looks of Gunscape, I genuinely do believe that it was a true labour of love for its creators, who’ve provided a bristling toolbox of features for those dedicated enough to use it. This is reflected in the variety of modes and features, including split screen, co op, deathmatch,a solo campaign and build mode.
Building blocks — The most fun I had with Gunscape was jumping into some of the levels created by other players, and in particular, it is the most visionary of these creations that proved the highlight. The build mode includes blocks, monsters and weapons thematically aligned to a range of FPS favourites such as Quake, Unreal, Doom, Wolfenstein and, erm, Turok among others. These basic components, plus a wide range of additional furniture ensure plenty of variety for those dedicated enough to persevere with the slightly clunky building mechanics.
Here’s what I disliked:
Ugly duckling — There’s no way to dress it up: Gunscape is an astonishingly unattractive game to look at. The blocks that form each level are roughly four times the size of those in Minecraft, which not only looks pretty bad, but also makes vertical levels really jarring to play. Enemies look appalling, and to be honest it’s hard to tell what game each one is supposed to be associated with because most are akin to jaunty, characterless lumps of meat.
Stupidly stupid — Gunscape‘s AI is broken. This might be something that gets fixed later, but for now it simply means that even when a level looks quite promising, the only way to inject any fun into it is by spamming hundreds of enemies. Enter a roomful of bad guys and half will stand staring at walls, whilst the other half will mercilessly hunt you down. There’s no rhyme or reason for which enemies do what, so it doesn’t seem to be related to line of sight or anything like that. In cooperative modes, it’s just a disappointment when trying to eke out any pleasure.
Gun jammed — Most of my concerns with Gunscape are borne from its lacklustre gameplay, and perhaps the most disappointing of all is that the actual shooting mechanics lack any sense of impact. Better games have a nice combination of visual and aural mechanics that give a feeling of genuine weight when a weapon is fired. In Gunscape, even the missile launcher merely causes a surviving enemy to skitter awkwardly back a few paces with what seems to be the fewest possible animations. There is even a chainsaw-style melee weapon so lacking in feedback that it’s not always clear whether hits are landing or not.
Unfortunately, Gunscape simply doesn’t live up to the expectations I had set for it. The building mode shows promise but is still somewhat lacking thanks to the overly large blocks. Even if you do manage to create an exceptional level, it takes a very specific combination of weapons and enemies to generate anything close to fun. Very specific groups of friends who have both the talent to create good levels and the perseverance to play them together will probably find some enjoyment here, but, unfortunately, I can’t include myself in that reckoning.
Score: Skip It
Gunscape was developed by Blowfish Studios on Xbox One. It will be released on March 2, 2016 for $19.99. A copy was provided by Blowfish Studios for review purposes.