Thursday, 3 September 2015

Flame Gunner - Arcade

Who's GAPS inc? Should we care? Yes, yes we should.

Gaps Inc isn't that well known for the games they've made, in truth I've had a hard time working it out in the brief spell of research I've conducted, but what they have produced here is rather impressive.

Each arena holds little tricks and traps to drain your health but you can avoid those.

Flame Gunner is a Third Person shooter, to put it very lightly. Not the over-the-shoulder shooter, but more the Resident Evil type of 3rd person where the camera remains fixed and the character wanders around freely. It's an odd take on the situation and it doesn't quite manage to pull off the attempt in doing so but it's still intriguing to see what they've made as a game.

No, really? I WAS the only one playing!

The gameplay in Flame Gunner involves you picking a character that determines the starting point to the mission. The mission being to one-man-army against a nutcase who wants a rocket to go into space. So that means you get to turn up and Rambo your way through the game, shooting people, blowing stuff up and generally causing havoc. Movement is determined by your joystick pointing you the way with you wish to go and also aims your gun. Shooting is just tapping or holding the fire button, the difference between the two being that holding the fire button locks your aim in that direction while you can still move and dodge shots. Grenades/Explosives can be fired as well but take a little while to launch and there's a dodge button.

Wreck it, blow it and destroy it for bonus points!

Enemies in Flame Gunner will aim towards you it'll be OBVIOUS that they are, you're safe until the line of fire turns read and then you'll have to be out of the way. Each enemy has a health bar and as you progress, the odd levelling system in the game will determine enemies to get harder as you go and more numerous in later missions. Levels don't have to be played in order and you can choose (usually) which levels you wish to take next with some having more difficult missions than others.

Mission tasks differ from location to location.

Usually, your objective in Flame Gunner is just to kill everyone and maybe a boss. Other types of mission include destruction, where you blow everything up; escort, where you have to get someone free of an area as quickly as possible without them being killed; and protection, where you stop the enemies from destroying something within a time limit. Unfortunately, it's not always clear which mission will hold which tasks for you to be done until you start playing it. But the variety does keep the game more interesting.

Lots of FMVs and action happening, plot points included.

Interestingly, some arenas are large enough that if you move to a specific point/location, the camera will change a la FMV and you get to see the fight from a new perspective, likewise some levels will have you moving through stages with the FMV showing the progression ebfore it settles at a point and game can be played from there in almost seemless movement between the FMV and the static image showing the game's level.

Huge wall of fire, a.k.a A Big Gun.

As a game, despite the guns and explosives and fighting Armoured Personel Carriers and tough guys, Flame Gunner is almost calm in its delivery of the game. This may be as a result of the slow movement of the main characters, Generic Asshat, Girly Asshat and OneMoreChoice Asshat. Little seems to be different between the characters which leaves the game to fall back upon its multiple choice system and routes for players to navigate their way around and through the levels.

Sounds like my living room after 2 curries.

What Flame Gunner doesn't hold up on, is the control system. Moving and trying to aim becomes a nightmare if you don't develop these skills quickly and you'll soon be overwhelmed by the enemies attacking you. Dodging rarely seems to work and using the explosives is risable at best for the attempt you'll make. Thankfully you can pick up bonus health, new guns and more explosives but it doesn't stop the game being difficult more so as a result of bad gameplay mechanics than any real challenge to the player.

Some fights are very drawn out.

The sounds are your typical gunshots and explosions, while the music is comfortably mild in the background, never overwhelming but also conventional enough that it doesn't grate and it doesn't stand out as being out of place in the game. It could very easily be in place in almost any game from the 90s to today by the grace of its own merits and dulcet tones.

They don't make it easy on the final stages. Not at all.

Overall, Flame Gunner is worth a look and those in the know will recognise the engine and the models used in the way they've been executed, it's a good game but lacks that final spit and polish that would turn it into a great game. The potential is there and while not entirely a 'miss' more a glancing ricochet away from the bullseye of a great game.