PREVIEW: Gatling Gears (XBLA, PSN, PC)

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Twin stick shooters are having something of a renaissance of sorts right now thanks to the growing popularity of bite-sized downloadable games. We had the pleasure of playing one called Gatling Gears at a recent EA preview event, slated for release on XBLA, PSN and PC this Spring, and came away impressed.

Taking its cues from Assault Heroes and Geometry Wars, Gatling Gears is a colourful top down shooter. Pounding around levels in mechanical walkers, you’ll take on hundreds of enemies at a time, dodging bullets and blowing up the scenery along the way.

Each walker is equipped with a standard machine gun with unlimited ammo, rockets and grenades that replenish over time and a single-use panic attack that damages all onscreen elements at once. It’s very much an old-skool shooter approach, but pulled off with a level of polish not seen often enough in a downloadable game.

It’s illustrated best by the screen filling boss battles, littered across each of the game’s 6 levels. These are multi-tier fights, with different approaches needed to take down each of the bosses attack stages. Screens will flash delightfully with each hit, or laser blast from an enemy canon; once again we have to stress it’s a great looking game.

With drop-in-drop-out local and online multiplayer, the game uses a clever risk-reward system when it comes to point multipliers. Each enemy drops a little gear or cog; collecting five of which will up your point multiplier by one notch, dropping if hurt or killed by an enemy. There’s no need to collect these to progress, but those looking to play competitively, checking the scores at the end of each level, will do well to collect them.

A lite RPG element is also included; collecting gold dropped around each level will allow you to make purchases in shops scattered around the gameworld. Upgrades can be made to weapon damage and walker-hull strength, which stay persistently across single and multiplayer modes.

Gatling Gears is looking a real treat to play. If the twin-stick shooter market is starting to look a little saturated, this is one title you definitely want to give a look when it launches.

Gerald Lynch

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