Gunscape is Minecraft spliced with Quake but lacks some originality. Our PS4 review and part 8 of Sean’s #52Games52Weeks challenge;
Gunscape is an interesting oddity. In simple terms, it’s the love child of Doom and Minecraft, conceived over a steamy, romantic weekend watching cheesy 80’s action movies – but as unique as that sounds, the game contains little originality. The game allows you to create, share and play your own first-person-shooter maps and campaigns using a variety of tile sets that mimic those of the genres trailblazers. The game’s influences – Wolfenstein, Quake, Turok, Minecraft, Bioshock, Tron and more – constantly shine through and while Gunscape’s homage to the grand-parents of first-person shooters is entertaining at first, it limits the games creative potential. What this doesn’t limit however, is how fun Gunscape is. And it’s a lot of fun.
“If you didn’t experience the gib-filled LAN parties of yore, Gunscape will feel dated rather than nostalgic when compared to modern day FPS’s”
If you played and enjoyed any of the shooters released in the mid 80’s to early 90’s, Gunscape will drag up some nostalgic feelings and you will likely feel at home with its simplistic game play. The blocky, pixel-covered wall tiles are reminiscent of the first time we assaulted Castle Wolfenstein and the purified, basic shooting mechanics (no scope view, no crouch, no sprint, floating weapons) channel the spirit of the early Unreal games. It’s a game that rewards skill with an old school, stripped back functionality that’s slick and a joy to play – especially against others. Of course, if you didn’t experience the gib-filled LAN parties of yore, Gunscape will feel dated rather than nostalgic when compared to modern day FPS’s.
Start Gunscape for the first time and you are directed towards the games campaign mode, 8 pre-made levels built using the games in-built creation suite by developers Blowfish . These single player and co-op (online and local) missions are designed to showcase the games creative capabilities which it amply does. The maps have everything you expect from an old school shooter – big bosses, wide open spaces, kill corridors, secrets everywhere and scores of villainous foes to blast into gibs. The maps have several exciting high-points – battling pre-historic beasties in a Turok-inspired maze, flying around a towering server room on jump pads and a chaotic, eye-ball shattering final mission are among them – but are held together by a largely forgettable plot which is not helped by the way it’s delivered. The storyline of Gunscape revolves around the player trying to recover a dangerous Artificial Intelligence and is drip fed via slow filling text boxes which appear from terminals that block the players progress. For the most part, the text is pedestrian and more often than not I found myself button-mashing to clear the screen and get back to the action.
Thankfully, the campaign only serves as the starter for the real Gunscape main-course and what the game is really all about – User Generated Content. Switch over to “Creation” and you can build your very own story driven co-op or multiplayer first-person shooter (again, in co-op via split screen or online). The creation tools are very similar to that of Minecraft’s “Creative Mode”. Everything is set out in a block format and you can build floors, walls and structures by pointing at the surface you want to attach something too and pressing R2. While not as wide a variety as Mojangs mega-hit, Gunscape still manages to pack in a myriad of different content you to use in your builds that are separated into different tile sets, each inspired by famous games (all with amusing names too e.g. Too Rockin’ for Turok, Tremmor for Quake and SiegeCraft for Minecraft). You can even amend the maps music, skybox, ambient lighting and fog levels to suit your need. Then there are around 30 different enemy types, including giant bosses as well as decorative bumph to flesh out your environments or to line the halls of your creation. You can also have objects or actions triggering events like unlocking doors, spawning enemies and much more. Gunscape has an incredibly powerful and intuitive creation suite than hands you the tools to build the best and most inspired maps that your imagination can come up with and then shoot your mates to bits on them. Gunscape is basically the world’s best Minecraft mod, fleshed out into a fully-fledged shooter – but there is a catch…
The fact that all of Gunscape’s tile sets are inspired by other game franchises was a novelty at first. “Brilliant, I can make my own Wolfenstein 3D levels” I thought to myself and went on to build a pretty damned enjoyable old school shooter map. The issue with Gunscape arises when you try to build something that isn’t inspired by classic FPS’s. Because so much of the game’s content is mimicking that of other games, it feels difficult to build something truly original like you could attempt to do in other games, such as Minecraft. It feels like you’re building just *another* Quake level or just *another* Turok map. You often find yourself wrestling to find something to fit the aesthetic that you’re aiming for and then using a square peg for your round hole. It’s here that the game lacks originality. It needed more generic blocks to use that weren’t sticking their tongue in their cheek and screaming “Look at us. Aren’t we cheeky for using this art style”.
“Because so much of the Gunscape’s content is mimicking that of other games, it feels difficult to build something truly original like you could attempt to do in other games, such as Minecraft”
The future success of Gunscape will rest on its community. There are already a selection of brilliant community-built maps to play – a re-creation of Unreal ‘99’s Facing Worlds map being my favourite so far – and as long as the community grows and players continue to use Gunscapes incredible tools to build bigger and better maps that leverage the benefits of its stripped back game play, this game will become an almost essential title on PS4. As of right now, it’s an enjoyable multiplayer shooter with a middling campaign, compensated by a powerful creation suite that is just begging for you to make something amazing with it – and I highly recommend you do.
Gunscape is available now on PS4 (review version), PC Via Steam and Xbox One for £11.99.
Gunscape was reviewed as part of Sean’s quest to play and complete 52 games in a year and to write something, nay, *anything* insightful about each one AKA the #52Games52Weeks challenge. You can catch up on his progress so far by visiting the links below:
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code by Stride PR.