You are Gunlok, a soldier in the future. Gunlok finds
himself in a world where intelligent robots have all but wiped out
humans from the face of the Earth. What few humans left are
being systematically hunted down by robot armies controlled by
computers that are programmed with the values of corporate
America (a little harsh since corporate America usually only wants
your money). So you happily dawn your power armour, check your
weapons, and make sure everything you encounter is dead, or
soon will be. At first glance this game is pretty much cliché. A
post-apocalyptic world where you are the only hope for the human
race... yippee, again... turn the channel. However, "Outcast" is
also a cliché theme, clearly a rip-off of "Tomb Raider" with a touch
of "Quake". But no one in their right minds would ever speak
badly about "Outcast" in my presence. Thus, legendary games are
known for their substance and not their plots, and "Gunlok" is
going to be lengendary.
To truly become Gunlok, one must understand Gunlok.
Gunlok doesn't seem to be the type of guy who would scan poetry
for fun. But if one were to describe Gunlok, then Robert Frost has
already done so:
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice"
Such a man is Gunlok. He is quite bitter inside and would like to
simply see everything be properly blown up (I don't think he ever
forgave the robots for not killing all humans on the first try). It is a
good thing that all his companions are robots.
So what is the game? To over simplify it, Gunlok is a
real-time action game viewed from a third-person perspective. You command up to
four team members: Gunlok, Elin, Hark, and Frend. They each
have their strengths and weaknesses. Gunlok is a soldier, Frend
is a tank, Hark is a scout and Elint is a stealthy character. You
essentially have a command interface similar to "Syndicate"; click
on things to blow them up. You can move your camera angle
around from a top-down view to a profile view. You can also
zoom the camera in and out as well as tilt it up or down. But
there's a twist to all this, you have to command your team so they
act as a team. I can't stress this point enough. Characters work in
parallel! There is no serial progression of actions that might sum
up a battle. "Everyone fights. No one quits."
To allow for all this fanciness, the game has a unique
command console that allows you to queue up commands and
then delay execution of them. Let me explain. Pausing the game
will facilitate entering in a long list of commands. It will also
switch the game to active pause mode. You can now enter
commands for each team member. Entering more than one
command will automatically make a list of queued commands. So
far I have not been able to establish the upper limit on the number
of commands you may queue. The fantastic thing about all this is
that each team member need not start their commands
immediately. If you un-pause the game, normally all your
characters will start to execute their respective commands. But if
you un-pause by selecting a team member, then only that team
member will start to execute his commands; the other will wait
until they are selected to start execution. The use of all this leads
to the idea of timed actions, or delayed actions. For example, if
you want to set-up an ambush point then you could queue up the
following play: Gunlok will hide north of the ambush point with a
heavy weapon. Elint will be south of the ambush point and fire a
light weapon then run in a large circle around the ambush point,
hopefully allowing the target to lock onto him instead of Gunlok.
Hark will attract the target to the ambush point, entering it from the
north and then hide when all the fighting is going on. Frend will
be placed behind Gunlok and possibly serve several purposes: he
can facilitate a retreat, he can cut off any reinforcements, and he
can help out with the mop-up action. So ideally, you want the
sequence to execute as follows: 1) Hark runs around and leads the
target into the ambush, 2) Elint pops up and start firing and running
around to cause a distraction, 3) Gunlok kills the target,
and 4) Frend patrols the entrance of the ambush point. Much more
complex plans may be devised using timed actions. This is truly
the first game that I have seen where teamwork is possible and
actually works. Usually, it is just a division of targets among your
team members, but now each member may serve a unique
purpose in the attack or defence of the team.
If this all seems a touch complex then you should know
the faster you kill things, the less you have to worry about. So don't
fret; you've got the equipment. You have three categories of
equipment: guns, ammo, and other. There are many guns in the
game, each with different types of ammo available. Your basics
would be plasma guns, laser guns (aka: loser guns), grenade
launchers, missile launchers, flamethrower, and nanofragmenters.
The ammo is regular, enhanced, heavy, and auto-locking. As for
others, you can have three types of mines: timed, proximity, and
remote controlled. You can have decoys: audio and visual. You
can have shield generators of different intensities. And finally, you
can have detectors (radar, visual, and targeting). I should point
out that the mines are extremely fun and bring a whole new depth
to the game. They are ideal for ambushes because it seems the
enemy can never detect them. However, it takes time to set and
place the mine, which makes them almost useless for a fighting
retreat. Lastly, living in a country that has banned the use of
mines in warfare has made me critical of games that insist on
including mines. I mean sure, they are cost-effective, but what if a
small baby robot were playing in the trash heaps and got its leg
blown off? But seriously, mines are the most important weapon in
the game, but they do not play their traditional role of slowing
pursuit. With all this in mind, it should be apparent that Gunlok
can be a thinking game or it can be as basic as a simple squad
skirmish game. The choice really is up to the player and his
preferences, as the well-designed levels cater to no one.
As with most things this time of year, we all want something
that comes in a nice pretty package. Let me assure you that
Gunlok has insane graphics. Okay they aren't that intense, but
they are fantastic. Look at a few of the screenshots now. You
might not believe that those are actual screenshots. I had that
feeling when I checked the game's website. They seemed too
nice to be non-rendered scenes. But then again, legendary games
have been amazing us for years with super non-rendered scenes
(eg: "Outcast"). The amazing bit is that they are absolutely smooth
on my outdated system. That's right, someone has made great
graphics requiring almost no hardware acceleration using only
DirectX7 (who says you can't take something inherently slow and
make it work properly for you? All without massive whips too!).
The idea of smoothness is also well implemented (look at your
cursor when you place order.... oh so smooth.... so smooth...
smooth... must touch... no wait...).
The audio and multimedia content don't quite meet my
standards though. The music is simply static audio tracks. Unlike
many other games, the music is not scene dynamic (ie: exciting
music for battles and ambient music for exploration). Actually,
all the music is there pretty much to set the mood of the game.
The sound for the game is equally acceptable. It is there but
nothing to rave nor rant about. The multimedia is laughable. The
intro movie is heavily pixelated and blocky, and the in-game
cut-scenes are rendered in real-time (which doesn't mean they
aren't nice, but it just means they aren't rendered for kickass video
quality). The noises in the game will definitely warn you of any
attacks happening off screen, but don't expect to find the audio
track to become a part of the pop culture like "Gran Turismo".
Annoyances are present in every game. Annoyances
can be small gaps in the clipping of the textures, sound effects, which
just saturate your speakers, or the simple fact that the game exists
(eg: "Deep Raider"). So what can you expect from Gunlok?
Well, your characters will get stuck on things now and then; be it
a wall, the floor, or a rock. Scenery such as huge satellites will
obstruct your view of things and sometimes there is too much
scenery to get an ideal camera angle. There's also the fact that
your character will happily try to shoot through a wall to get at the
enemy. They need not have a line of sight to start wasting ammo.
The enemies have infinite amounts of ammo whilst you have a
very limited amount of ammo. At times, your characters can
occupy the same space, but for some reason they can't walk
through each other making manoeuvring difficult. These are, as
you might already know, small annoyances, which a patch can
As you can tell, Gunlok has already won over some
people. Its smooth graphics, delayed action queues, and overall
coolness make it a super fun game to play. However, its lack of a
real plot, lack of a fully encompassing sci-fi world (eg: the "Dune"
novels' world or "Outcast"'s completeness of cities), and
the sometimes overly simplistic levels leave the player with a
simple fact: this is just a game. So though Gunlok is a legendary
game in all respects, it will not be revered for more than a game.
But by all means, do play the game as it is quite addictive and
takes an innovative approach to commanding your team members.