A hundred and one ways to die (or live).
Games deliver this element in various forms with varying levels of success in a hundred different scenarios. Chaos can be a frustrating demoralizer that makes you want to shut a game off and never return to it again. Otherwise it can be a cleverly paced series of events that make you still feel in control amidst a cacophony of confusion that leads to both pride and sighs of relief when it’s over. After sitting through a session of Gatling Gear’s Survival mode, I’d like to tell you about just how well this downloadable shooter delivers chaos.
We first previewed Gatling Gears back in February and explained clearly how this twin-stick shooter looks great, controls well, and is definitely something to keep an eye on. Experiencing this new game mode furthers those initial impressions.
In Survival, two players work together to survive 10 waves of enemies. Along with the soldiers, tanks, and machines trying to destroy you, each of the three available Survival maps have a specific task amidst your basic “staying alive” goal. Tempest, the map I played, requires players to protect two water towers from approaching, explosive mine carts.
But rather than finding yourself in an impossible bullet-hell (ever played You Will Die?), Gatling Gears manages to keep you in control. This doesn’t mean it’s an easy job to survive through all the waves of evildoers, but it does mean that the gameplay stays consistent and there isn’t any slowdown when there are a few dozen explosives pointed at your head.
Enemies pepper the screen with missiles and they’re paced just slowly enough that you can quite literally wander your way through them like a labyrinth. As enemies get more clever after a few waves, you’ll be dodging rockets of varying paces, all while remembering to protect your water towers, finding health, juggling your own offense, and trying to keep all these factors straight.
In contrast to the Campaign’s long, weaving levels, Survival mode is locked to a single screen. Enemies enter from all angles, via land and air, and you need to be mindful of the level’s objectives. There may be a tank bearing down on you, but if an explosive cart has almost reached its target, you need to reprioritize. This juggling is hectic, but as long as you keep your head on the big picture, you’ll trounce this chaos and come out the other side bursting with pride.
There’s a bigger factor at play as well as you simply try to, well, survive. Gatling Gears has a huge focus on scoring. While it’s called a cooperative game, you’re technically in constant competition with your partner for gathering up gear pieces, stomping down soldiers, and keeping up the score multiplier. While you need your partner to get through the tenth wave of Survival, as soon as the guns stop shooting, it’s all about who scored more points. The icing on the Survival cake? You can’t post your high scores unless you survive every single wave.
This cooperative shooter looks like a solid entry into the downloadable marketplace. My only concern is that with a mere three Survival levels, the anarchy may become the norm and it will lose its charm. But with a lengthy campaign alongside this additional mode, there’s no lack of top-down action to be had. Gatling Gears is scheduled for release on Xbox Live on May 11, PSN on May 17, and in Europe on May 18.