Gunstringer: Dead Man Running is a spin-off Windows 8 title based on the Xbox Live Arcade game, The Gunstringer, a Kinect-based game about a skeletal cowboy.
While that game partially imitates the on-the-rail shooter genre, G:DMR is an endless run clone, and a rather obvious one at that.
Graphically the game is quite good, albeit it never attempts to push any boundaries. More than once you will die and wonder how much of your character actually touched the obstacle. The flailing nature of the Gunstringer means that you’re never quite sure whether it’s you or poor collision detection to blame. Aurally too, it’s perfunctory but perfectly acceptable given the shallow nature of the genre and the classic Western drawl that narrates the game is a welcome touch.
Such is the crowded marketplace for endless run games now, from the (perplexingly) mega-selling Temple Run to the indie hit that started it all, Canabalt, that to do a really good job of an endless run game you have to attempt some sort of Unique Selling Point or do everything so well that it’s like an unoriginal but perfectly executed pop song storming to the top of the charts.
G:DMR makes no attempt at the former and fails at the latter, though not disastrously so.
The game is in the ‘over the shoulder’ viewpoint ala Temple Run rather than the side-on style of Jetpack Joyride and contains all the tropes you’d expect in such a game.
Swerve the Gunstringer from left to right and jump and roll to avoid obstacles in your path, while periodically a target will appear for you to shoot for bonus points.
The levels are split into ‘worlds’, each with multiple stages and a boss fight. None of these are particularly original and the boss fight in particular seems the same every time, which is disappointing. There is an endless run mode too to add extra playability, along with challenges you can send to friends who also own the game.
So far so fine, but the controls are the biggest let-down in the game. Played on a touch screen you have to use the accelerometer on your tablet and tilt to move left or right, but it’s nowhere near responsive enough and the novelty of tilting your tablet or smartphone to move it wore off long ago.
It says everything about the game that the best way to play it is with a keyboard and mouse, with the mouse controlling your aim while the keyboard controls your movement. This is hardly an ideal setup and renders the game far less enjoyable on the very platform it was designed for – mobile gaming.
Upon release, G:DMR was priced around £1.99 but a temporary giveaway ended up permanent, so the game is now free to download and play.
As you may have guessed however, it is stuffed full of In-App Purchases (IAPs) and as is typical of this type of game they are designed in such a way to be a total grind to purchase.
As an Xbox Live game it comes with achievements, many of which are – you guessed it – linked to purchases, therefore turning the game into a rather lengthy grind for anyone who wants to unlock all the achievements.
That said, the nature of mobile gaming – where you dip in and out for ten minutes at a time – means that 100% completion can seem like light years away but it is often the case that if you sat down and played non-stop for a couple of hours you’d progress quite far into the game, albeit with a fair amount of repetitiveness involved. Whether you have the time, inclination and perseverance is another matter.
G:DMR isn’t a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination. It’s perfectly playable, you can dip in and out as you wish, and for a freebie it feels churlish to complain too much. It’s just difficult to get too excited about a game that is, to excuse the pun, so middle-of-the-road.
If you can take or leave the endless run genre, or if you only want to play the very best the genre has to offer, you won’t miss anything by avoiding this game.
This review is taken from my website: http://zombiesatemyxbox.com/2013/09/10/gunstringer-dead-man-...