Review: Gunscape (PS4)

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Title: Gunscape
Format: PlayStation Network Download (557.4 MB)
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Level 77
Developer: Blowfish Studios
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: T
Gunscape is also available on Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Ever wanted to make a first person shooter but didn’t have the tools or know-how? If you own a computer there are quite a few tools that allow you to accomplish this dream, even ways to mod existing games.

On the consoles however, such tools are not available. I believe the last time I used a decent development tool on a console was the old TimeSplitters FPS on PlayStation 2.

Well all of that changes with the availability of Gunscape on PlayStation 4. You can now make an entire FPS, complete with campaign and online arena modes on your console.

There is a catch though… the style and graphics of the game date back to 90’s Doom and Hexen. So you’ll be creating content for an audience from two decades ago.

Despite this sounding like a bad thing, it’s actually not. It tugs at a nostalgic heartstring and the options provided by Gunscape are robust enough that you can make your wildest “old school” first-person shooter dreams a reality.

There are plenty of brick styles to choose from.

Gameplay:
Gameplay is divided into two different modes, campaign and development. First up, you can play through a pre-created campaign either alone or with friends. It’s rather shallow and pretty brutal if you are playing alone.

Ultimately it’s there to show you what it’s possible to create using the tools. I actually became pretty bored with the campaign an hour or so in and jumped into the real meat of this game, which is the development tool.

Gunscape truly adopts the Play/Create/Share nature of games like LittleBigPlanet and creates an entire landscape for developing and sharing content. The entire build interface is populated by content created by others, including a rating system to let you know what others are playing.

… Save often …
The creation tool itself is fairly simple to use, despite using a controller instead of a mouse to lay down bricks and enemies. It only took me a few hours to create a castle full of zombies. I even created a second floor that was only accessible through a hidden passage. That’s when I ran into my first problem.

I made sure to save manually from time to time, but I got so wrapped up in the creation of my first stage that I neglected to save. I had assumed that there was also some kind of autosave going on.

So moments later when I lost almost an hour of work it was my own fault, but not entirely. I lost it because the game lost access to the server which was entirely beyond my control. Why the developers decided to make being online a requirement for the creation side of thing is beyond me.

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Save often folks because if you lose connection or the servers stop working, you will lose what you are working on. It is possible that after this writing they may have addressed this issue, but my experience was somewhat disappointing because of this loss of work.

Save often, and you will find a very easy-to-use tool that makes creating your own first-person shooter a breeze.

… experimenting with backdrops and lighting will yield some pretty unique results …
Visuals:
If you come into this with the understanding that the visuals are reflecting 3D graphics from the 90s, you will have no problem adapting to this. In fact, you can do some creative things with the tool that allows your designs to look even better than some of those games from twenty years ago.

Lighting, for example, allows for some mood setting and experimenting with backdrops and lighting will yield some pretty unique results. You have enough tile variety to create a science fiction adventure or go full medieval with bricks and torches.

If games like Minecraft can get a pass for graphics, I will give this a pass. It’s not here to compete with Uncharted, but it helps to know what you’re getting yourself into before you buy it.

Audio:
There’s not much to say about the audio in this game. Each weapon, creature, and action has its own sound effect, also evocative of a long-gone era. While it certainly works well in tandem with the visuals, it isn’t a standout evolution of the sound category.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This is where the true strength of Gunscape lies. If this game was limited to its offline campaign, I would have already stopped writing, but its nature is in the “create and share” element.

At the time of this review, there were only a handful of stages created by other users but they already showed promise. Gunscape also offers multiplayer, not only when you play through stages, but also throughout the creation tool.

You can co-op create with your friends online, allowing you to tag team the creation of your masterpiece. Because none of my friends owned this game, I wasn’t able to test the online version of the creation tool but I did some offline creation and it worked well.

… it allows you to do something few others can …
Also, I am not able to verify if the same “lost save” situation will occur if the host of the creation session loses connection while you are creating. I’d like to believe that the developer would be aware of these issues and will patch them in time.

Very few games allow you to play co-op on the same screen any more. Fewer still allow you to create masterpiece first-person shooters together. This game wins because it allows you to do something few others can.

Conclusion:
Gunscape isn’t going to make you rethink purchasing the new Doom in a few months and it likely will not make you into a game developer. But it will give you the opportunity to develop some awesome old-school shooters and share them with the world.

It will also let you play other creations alone or with friends. Sometimes a concept and execution of that concept outweighs graphical intensity and next-gen expectations. This is definitely one of those times… as long as they can fix that server issue.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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