Gatling Gears Review
If you have a craving for destruction or feel the need to blow everything up, Xbox Live's newest addition just might satisfy those urges. Gatling Gears from Vanguard Games is a top-down twin-stick shooter that allows players to let loose on invading armies of the Empire in a mech called the Walker.
Before you set out to protect the six different lands from the Empire, you begin as a normal member of it. Meet Max, a Walker pilot who once served the Empire's army. The prologue (which also acts as a tutorial) reveals the Empire's true colors when you're ordered to destroy and demolish a civilian village. Max disobeys and leaves the Empire to live the rest of his life in peace. Naturally, the Empire gets pissed and comes after Max. Their ultimate goal? World domination.
To say the action in Gatling Gears is hectic would be an understatement. It might not be on the bullet hell level of Cave games, but the amount of destruction, explosions and missile dodging will definitely be overwhelming at first. Your Walker is outfitted with a gatling gun, a missile launcher, a grenade launcher and a screen-wide shockwave attack, and you will need to smartly utilize each weapon to survive. The screen grows busy with armies of missile-launching soldiers to flame-throwing pyromaniacs, heavily armored tanks and planes, and even buildings that transform into fortified missile dispensaries.
You'll soon find the screen occupied with red-colored missiles, bullets and explosions that you have to strategically dodge while unleashing your own barrage of bullets. This will undoubtedly lead to some frustrating deaths, especially for players unaccustomed to having the screen half-filled with deadly projectiles aimed in their direction, but getting through the level in one piece is definitely rewarding. A second player has the option to drop in (locally and online) at any time and assist you on your quest for liberation.
The main goal is to progress through the various themed instances--each with their own distinct look, such as grassy fields, industrial compounds or frozen tundras--to reach the end level boss. If you thought making it through the levels was tough, the bosses are a separate beast entirely. Each boss has not only significantly more firepower, which it mercilessly unleashes at you, but also three forms, each one more difficult than the last. The destruction-heavy levels are entertaining for sure, but the bosses definitely steal the show.
Aside from trying to stay alive, players are required to collect massive amounts of gears from fallen enemies. These gears not only raise your score, but also give a bonus multiplier that continues to increase as long as you don't get hit. Factors like not losing a life or not utilizing the Shockwave significantly boosts the overall score, as well. The higher the score at the end of each level, the greater the amount of XP rewarded. At first I was excited to discover a leveling system, only to find out that the Walker upgrades it unlocks are purely aesthetic. While I wasn't expecting anything beneficial to come out of changing into bonus camouflage, I did expect the different pet unlocks to help you out in battle. They don't.
An upgrade system for your arsenal exists in the form of gold bar-collecting. Your Walker and each of your weapons (excluding the Shockwave) can be upgraded to boost damage, range, or health with the use of collected gold bars (three per stage). While most of these aren't well hidden, some are only found after you scout the area.
Gatling Gears boasts impressive visuals, especially since it can retain a solid frame rate no matter how many things are flying or exploding on screen. It can be a repetitive process because each level requires you to blow up everything in sight, but the combination of challenge and reward makes the repetition a minute issue. If you're in dire need of a solid twin-stick shooter fix, give Gatling Gears a go.