Reviews

Assault Gunners HD Edition Review [PS4] – Even Mech Suits Can’t Save It

The port itself isn’t bad, but the lack of exciting set pieces or interesting settings ensure that it never reaches a level above dull...

Perhaps hoping to piggyback off the promotion of Pacific Rim: Uprising, Marvelous Games brings their PSP, Japanese exclusive game about mech suits to the PS4 and PC with middling results. A lack of captivating gameplay, setting, or story stifles any chance of elevating this interesting concept above a sub-standard shooter.

Assault Gunners HD Edition Review PS4

If it wasn’t already clear from the early 2000s’ graphics, just starting this game immediately signals it’s a port from a previous generation (in this case a handheld) – the menus are navigated with the D-pad. Though scrolling through menus becomes more tedious this way, the variety of menu and customization options is worth it if you’re determined to play the game. Before starting one of the 20 main levels (or additional two DLC packs), the game lets you select a difficulty, set friendly fire, and modify your supporter settings.

Assault Gunners HD Edition Review
Assault Gunners HD Edition Review

In addition, the game allows you to personalize your units and manage your troops. Even seeing this pared-down version of an RPG-system is a welcome addition and a benefit to the game as a whole. However, this feature only became apparent to me after seeking it out and was not explained in-game, which would’ve been nice since the end of each stage listed various bonuses and supplies you collected from the level.

Though some may argue that video games have become too easy and straightforward, this lack of communication is frustrating (and it doesn’t help that all of the voice acting is in Japanese) and a flaw across many of the game’s aspects. There is clearly love, or at the very least effort, put into the story but the narrative never finds a compelling way to explain itself. Beyond slapping quick scrolling text (a la Star Wars) before every mission, there is little else directing the players’ motives. Who are these people? Why should we care? It seems the developer thought about those questions but buried them deep within the aforementioned menus to never be found unless the player is digging for them.

Assault Gunners HD Edition Review
Assault Gunners HD Edition Review

In addition, I often found it hard to determine whether my bullets or missiles were hitting their projected targets. If the attack struck (and the combatant was weak enough) the enemy would poof off the screen. For enemies that couldn’t be one-shotted, they merely absorbed the attack until, like the others, they just disappeared. I didn’t feel as if I was learning. I was just shooting until I cleared the stage. It wasn’t until the timer threatened to countdown and flunk me that I found any bit of fun, challenge, or variety of play. Those moments, however, were too scarce and most of the time I felt as if I was just mashing buttons and walking around the various arenas with no clear objective.

Assault Gunners HD Edition Review
Assault Gunners HD Edition Review

Button mashing can be fun, but the game has to have more diverse environments to explore or ambience to set the mood. It didn’t help that as you marched your mech suits across the mostly flat stages, the music was bland and consistently played a similar tune. At times it was disjointed with the action; other times it faded into the background. It wasn’t fully a failure, but not even close to a success.

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