Gunscape Review

By Lexley Ford, 9 months ago
The ability to create and share maps for games is nothing new. Ever since the days of classic Doom on the PC, players have been designing their own challenging maps and making them available for friends to try out. The success of games like Little Big Planet and Super Mario Maker continues to prove that there is a demand for user created content, and that people can have just as much fun creating as they do playing. The latest game to follow this trend is Blowfish Games' Gunscape, a title that aims to give users the tools required to create their own First Person Shooter maps, campaigns or whatever comes to mind, but without bogging them down with overcomplicated tools.

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Gunscape uses a simple block placement system to create maps that can be played in a variety of multiplayer modes or as a user created campaign. Anyone that is even vaguely familiar with Minecraft, or for those that like their construction a little more tactile like LEGO, will be able to get to grips creating their own unique worlds fairly quickly. The standard terrain blocks are used to make up the bulk of a level. The majority of these are generally cubes, but a few angled blocks are available to help build more detailed architecture like sloped ceilings, staircases or ramps. Of course, if generic blocks were the only things available, maps would end up looking fairly sparse. As you would expect, each of the theme packs also has a selection of Props like columns, statues or desks, which can be added to decorate the level.

Enemies can be placed within campaign missions, as well as in multiplayer to cause some additional havoc, and all have set AI behaviours that change how they act by default. Unfortunately, these can't be changed. If an enemy with a certain set of behaviours is required when designing a level, the only way to do so is to use a specific character. This limits the amount of variation available. With only a few different types of enemies available for each theme pack, campaign maps can end up being highly repetitive.

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Finally, there are the Special elements that includes things like doors, lifts, jump pads and teleporters. It is these elements that allow users to add character to their levels. Many of these elements can be activated or disabled by adding simple logic to pressure plates, or buttons and levers. These elements are the trickiest to implement at first, mainly due to the lack of any tutorials in the game; however, after a little trial and error they become second nature to use and add plenty of extra depth to the creations.

The available theme pack takes inspiration from some of the most iconic and easily recognisable First-Person Shooters from years gone by, although their names have been changed for copyright reasons. From classics like Doom, Wolfenstein and Quake, to more recent titles like Bioshock, Minecraft and Portal, the theme packs give users the opportunity to recreate some of their favourite levels, or build something completely different but with a familiar twist. Users aren't constrained to using one set at a time and have complete freedom to use blocks from all of the different sets to create maps however they choose.

Gunscape does include a short eight level campaign, titled The Shay Complex, that sees the player infiltrate a top secret facility in order to destroy an AI weapon that goes by the name of DOLOS. Rather than being a fully fledged campaign, it acts as an introduction to the various theme packs and shows what can be achieved with the tools at hand, especially how switches can be used to interact with other objects in the world. This campaign is probably the closest thing to a tutorial to be included with the game, as well as helping players to get accustomed to how the weapons and enemies differ.

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As is to be expected, many well known multiplayer gameplay modes are available to play depending on whether or not a map supports them. All of these support 8-player local multiplayer as well as online. FPS mainstays, such as Free For All, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag, are joined by Infection and Last Man Standing modes. Different maps will naturally work better for some modes than others and will all depend on how much time has been spent on carefully planning and creating the stage.

This may be both the game's blessing and its curse. With all of the maps being created by users there will invariably well balanced and thoughtfully designed maps with hours upon hours of dedication and planning. Then there will also be rush jobs that may favour one team over another, with weapon placements being slightly closer to their spawn points, or their flag location being slightly easier to defend. This is an overall issue with user created content and not with Gunscape itself, but it is something that at least must be taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, Gunscape does have it own issues, though, and its biggest problem is with its stability. Launching games, be they co-op, single-player, split-screen multiplayer or just the build mode, has caused the game to freeze on numerous occasions. While less common, freezing has also occurred mid-game. These crashes are seemingly random and unavoidable, but the game does display the amount of time since the map was last saved during a build. After a few wasted hours of construction when the game crashed and progress was lost, you begin to rely on this timer quite a lot as it acts as a constant reminder of the amount of work that may be lost if another crash was to occur.

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As the game is centered around creating and sharing your own unique creations, a lot of time is spent within the game's build mode. Like with the Mulitplayer and Campaign modes, you can invite friends to help create your dream multiplayer map or campaign online, or in split-screen. Unfortunately, once your creations begin to grow in size, there is a noticeable reduction in frame-rate that is only compounded further if editing in split-screen mode. On top of this, editing in split-screen mode reduces the size of most of the menus, making tile selection more difficult. On the other hand, some menu overlays, such as the one for creating logic for special blocks, take up the entire screen and obscure all of the players' views.

The titles 44 Achievements are, like the title itself, split across the three main aspects of the game. Achievements are unlocked for creating, building, publishing and rating maps, with a hefty 100G for placing 10,000 blocks in the game's build mode. Of course, the Campaign and multiplayer aspects of the title also feature in the achievement list with achievements for killing certain numbers of players with specific weapons, winning matches in the many different gameplay modes and completing Blowfish's own campaign. None of the achievements for the game are difficult to unlock, but many may require a lot of time or grinding out.

Summary

Gunscape's aim to give users a simple way to create and share their own arenas and campaigns is no small feat, but Blowfish Studios has managed to achieve it using an editor that is already familiar to gamers. The main downside is that the game's stability issues can be a major hindrance and lead to more frustration. The main benefit of Gunscape is that there will always be something new to play and more levels to discover thanks to the online community, giving players a virtually endless pool of maps to try out. If you have a large imagination and will spend hours creating the perfect map, this game is for you.
2.5 / 5
Positives
  • Simple to use editor
  • Almost endless possibilities
Negatives
  • Frequent crashes
  • Complicated maps can negatively affect frame rates
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent about 20 hours building maps and playing the game's multiplayer. He earned 30 of the available 44 achievements. A download code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Lexley Ford
Written by Lexley Ford
Lex has been gaming for nearly three decades and has been a Newshound for TrueAchievements since 2011. When he’s not writing news he can normally be found immersing himself in a good story, both written and in-game, or just blowing stuff up (only in games).