The style may not be suitable for those with a tea-bagging/Doritos/Code Red sensibility, but for people fond of older FPS games such as DOOM then Gun Commando is certainly worth checking out. Far from being short in the content department, Gun Commando delivers an experience that feels accurate for the era it’s trying to mimic and more importantly it’s simply a fun game to play thanks to the almost endless amount of replay and entertainment it provides.
+ Concept is amazing in capturing the old-school vibe.
+ Both control methods work well.
+ Level design and boss battles are engaging despite their simplistic tendencies.
+ Price is perfect.
- Default control sensitivity is a bit too touchy.
Despite the attitude that may be present today, the first-person genre has indeed evolved over the last twenty-five years. There may be a current creative malaise abound which has FPS games being nothing more than carbon copies of each other in the hopes of being the much sought after big thing in the gaming world, but back in the early to mid 1990s things were vastly different.
Some gamers may be familiar with the era of FPS games which first started doing 3D graphics and consisted of nothing more than wondering simple corridors as they encountered a slew of enemies slowly making their way towards the player. Hearing that FPS games were once so simplistic compared to the Perks and dynamic action of the titles we have today may sound as foreign to younger gamers as hearing that music once was stored on boxy cartridges or that albums were released in actual record stores as opposed to merely being downloaded online. However, such classic FPS action is revisited in the new PlayStation Mobile game Gun Commando.
To gamers reared on Call of Duty the basis of Gun Commando may seem entirely odd if not something that doesn’t appeal to their more modern sensibilities that have become a facet of FPS game design this generation. But for those who have been around the block for awhile, Gun Commando is almost a welcome reprieve of sorts due to it’s immediate simplicity that is matched with an almost subtle level of depth that makes it more than a simple run and gun title.
A spiritual successor of sorts to the bygone generation of FPS games that was made famous by DOOM and Wolfenstein 3D, Gun Commando is a simple corridor shooter presented with a perfect style of that early generation. By perfect I really do mean that since developer Green Hill has created an art style that isn’t marred by an obvious modern touch that comes across as pandering to an extent in an attempt to be nostalgic and perhaps more “artistic” compared to other titles in the genre.
With an abundance of circular bullets from both the weapon of my character and the enemies I encountered, Gun Commando is filled with a colorful array of visuals that make sense for the setting and what it’s aiming to achieve. The setting in particular is one that older gamers may be familiar with: an alien invasion. Presented in simple comic book style panels with writing reminiscent of B-grade action movies/TV shows from the 1980s, complete with “I banged your wife” jokes and pulpy undertones, Gun Commando immediate carves out a vibe for itself which never once feels forced or instantly tired.
So far we’ve seen an abundance of games on PlayStation Mobile that have attempted to be nostalgic in their mimicking an old visual style, yet Gun Commando goes about it in the right way with it’s appearance of massive robots or aliens, who by the way are indeed little green men.
The visual approach taken in Gun Commando merely isn’t one that meant to carry the experience on the memories of past days of gaming in which we were all hunkered down playing Star Wars: Dark Forces as there is indeed a honest level of enjoyment from the gunplay that’s presented - as simple as it may be. With a dash of modern day control wonder via the option to play the game using the front touchscreen of the PlayStation Vita to both move my character and shoot, Gun Commando keeps things moderately straight forward by having one key goal: survive the level and kill all the enemies.
There isn’t much to it other than that since there are only a handful of enemies per stage, each with unique attacks and ways to take them down, before moving on to the eventual boss battle, which again is presented with an old-school approach filled with an abundance of strafe shooting all while having a feeling of hope that your health doesn’t dwindle from the bullet hell that’s transpiring.
Surprisingly the modern element in Gun Commando, the touch controls, work well as do the regular and more traditional method of using the analog sticks. The only immediate issue I encountered while playing the game was that the default motion sensitivity did seem a tad high - almost to the point where it made the game harder to play than it should’ve been. But after a little tinkering in the options I found the controls to be an utter breeze and I went along my business of being a would be savior of the earth as I destroyed evil extraterrestrials.
Playing through Gun Commando I was initially worried that the game would fall into a one note pattern as the first few levels are rather simple, even for the standards of the era it’s drawing inspiration from, but eventually the game does pick up steam. The general direction of the levels comes across perfectly in capturing the corridor nature of older FPS titles as corners provide perfect cover opportunities and the sprawling nature of the latter levels provides a grandeur scale compared to the more short, and somewhat claustrophobic earlier levels.
For the older generation of gamers who played Doom for hours on end, Gun Commando is a surprising successor of sorts that doesn’t falter to modern design sensibilities that otherwise feel out of place in it’s otherwise retro façade. The PlayStation Mobile nature of the game shouldn’t fool you into thinking the game is on the short side as there’s a considerable amount of content - all of which is backed up with a consistent production value that perfectly encapsulates an era which almost is forgotten at this point.