With a name like Max Brawley, it should come as no surprise that the protagonist of Gatling Gears is a soldier with his own steampunk style walking tank. Max starts out as a member of the Empire, but their brutal methods leave a bad taste in his mouth, which causes him to turn his back on them. Many years later, his peaceful retirement is shattered when the Empire shows up in full force to begin harvesting the natural resources in his area. Thankfully, Max has been keeping his Gatling Gear, the aforementioned walking tank, in top condition. This allows him to hop in and take on the might of the Empire with the assistance of his niece. It is a battle that will force Max to penetrate the very heart of the Empire and put a stop to their evil ways for good.
Gatling Gears is a top down shooter by Vanguard Games that gives players the opportunity to let loose annihilate everything in sight. The meat of the game is the campaign mode, which features five distinct areas that can be tackled alone or with the aid of a friend. To complete the campaign, players will have to eradicate the Empire army and the six bosses that stand in their way. In addition to the campaign mode, Gatling Gears also features a survival mode, where the objective is to stay alive and protect some vital assets while fending off waves of enemies. Both modes can be played in Easy, Normal, or Hard difficulty, so Gatling Gears is pretty accessible as far as top down shooters goes.
Like most games in this genre, Gatling Gears is pretty simple in terms of what you need to do. While playing the campaign mode the game requires you to stomp through the various environments and rain down destruction on anything hostile that heads your way. There are no puzzles to solve or quests to complete, just tons of projectiles to dodge and enemies to send to the afterlife. To assist you with the task of killing everything in sight, your Gatling Gun is equipped with a number of weapons. Your primary fire takes the form of a Gatling gun, which has a rather short range, but unlimited bullets. Secondary fire is rockets, which shoot much further and do more damage, but takes time to replenish when you use all of them. Then there are your grenades, which can be lobbed into groups of enemies and take down multiple targets at once, but they are slower to fire and also require recharging. Finally, you have a last ditch “special” attack that can only be used once per level, but can clear out an entire screen of enemies. Since you are piloting a giant steampunk mech, trampling all over enemies that are on foot is also an option, but you can expect to get shot in the process.
Gatling Gears doesn’t feature any form of checkpoints, but you do get a certain amount of lives per level, depending on the difficulty level you chose. You can continue where you died, but if you run out of lives, then it’s back to the start of the level. This is usually not an issue as all the levels are fairly linear and not too lengthy either. The only downside to this is that you cannot go backwards as the game will push you along automatically, so make sure you don’t miss anything. As you cause total destruction around you, you will notice that your enemies drop small gears when they explode. These gears can then be picked up and serve as they increase your score multiplier. You will want to avoid getting shot, though, as getting hit will decrease the multiplier. Every now and then enemies will also drop power-ups when they die, which can supercharge your weapons for a limited amount of time or grant you temporary invincibility. You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for the gold bars that can be found tucked away in each area as these are vital for upgrading your Gatling Gear between levels. The game even features an experience point system, but this is reserved for unlocking new paint jobs for your Gatling Gear as well as pets that tag along behind it. We are still not sure what the practical purpose of a fox or other animal tagging along is, but they are there nonetheless.
Visually, Gatling Gears is quite a vibrant looking game and we love the amount of detail that has gone into the vehicle designs. Your enemies can attack from land, sea and air, with a variety of steampunk vehicles. Of course, they also blow up rather nicely in an explosion of debris and gears. The game starts out in a lush wooded area, but as you follow the Empire back into their home territory, things become progressively bleaker. You trudge across frozen mountains, barren deserts and finally an oppressive industrial city as you make your way through the 30 odd levels. The overhead perspective provides a nice view of your surroundings, but some players might not appreciate that you have no control over the camera or level of zoom in the game. This didn’t bother us too much, though, and the fact that the game can handle so many explosions and projectiles flying around at once without any slowdown is impressive.
Although Gatling Gears doesn’t have any kind of voice acting, the audio is quite decent overall. The music isn’t exactly memorable, but at least none of the tunes are annoying or repetitive. The sound effects on the other hand are excellent and the explosions when blowing up enemies sound great. If you crank up the volume on this game, it will make your house sound like the inside of an arcade. As Gatling Gears is basically a twin-stick shooter, it can be controlled using either the trusty keyboard and mouse combination, or an analog controller. We prefer the precision that the former provides, but the game is also perfectly playable with the latter. Your vehicle can move and shoot in different directions at the same time, but controlling it never feels cumbersome. The fact that you can play together in local or online co-op is also a welcome feature for this type of game.
In total, it took us about five hours to clear the campaign in Gatling Gears and after that there was still fun to be had with the survival mode. It’s not the most memorable twin-stick shooter in terms of story or gameplay, but it is a lot of fun while it lasts and certainly not a bad looking game. The whole steampunk aesthetic has been done before plenty of times, but still fits the style of Gatling Gears well. Overall, it’s a very decent game that won’t leave fans of the genre feeling disappointed. The game also no longer features the annoying DRM that EA slapped on it back when it was first released, so there is no need to worry about that either.
- OS: Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo (or equivalent) running at 1.8 GHz or greater, AMD Athlon X2 64 (or equivalent) running at 2.0GHz or greater
- Memory: 2048 MB or greater
- Hard Disk Space: 2GB
- Video Card: ATI Radeon X1300 256MB and the Nvidia GeForce 7600 256MB cards
- DirectX®: DirectX June 2010
- Sound: 100% DirectX9.0c compatible sound card and drivers