Another in a long line of block-based games, Gunscape is a bit different. Rather than going for the usual blocky survival experience, it instead emulates the gameplay of classic FPS games of the 90s, such as Turok and Quake, and crosses them with the “Play, Create, Share” mentality of LittleBigPlanet.
Creating maps is the real focal point of Gunscape, or if you don’t have that kind of patience, just trying out maps that other players have made and uploaded. The campaign that comes with the game is clearly just an example to show you what can be done with its tools, but it’s sadly not a very good one. It’s just relentlessly dull, with a threadbare story that is contained entirely in text on computer terminals and levels that feel like a slog long before you reach the end.
You might draw parallels to LittleBigPlanet, which fostered a community of creators and a wealth of levels to play and share, but it also came with a remarkably inventive campaign. Across the LBP series, it has often demonstrated great imaginative and innovative ways of using the game’s tools in order to create mystifying obstacles, enemies, even other genres to contend with. All Gunscape’s campaign does is show you basic environments you could make, based on classic tropes and a selection of the game’s enemies and weaponry. These turn out to be as uninspired as the level design.
Enemies are as predictable as you might expect: flying robots that seem to slowly spiral in your general direction while unleashing barrages of rockets before inevitably getting stuck in a corner; velociraptors that pounce at you before inevitably getting stuck in a hole somehow; a tiny charging triceratops that is remarkably one dimensional. They are all homages to classic shooters, but as actual enemies they are boring and infuriating in equal measures. The various enemies that carry weaponry can apply bullets to your forehead with remarkable accuracy, considering how unweildy they are when in your own hands.
Walking into an enemy filled room in the campaign is like finding yourself in a first person bullet hell game, as you try to avoid incoming fire like raindrops. Each hit does a surprising amount of damage to you considering how many it takes for you to take enemies down, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, your character’s movement feels sluggish and jumps don’t feel high enough, so dodging all that gunfire is more exasperating than it is challenging.
Even your aim feels awkward, mostly because every weapon behaves in a wildly fashion. Unfortunately, it’s the more useless ones that are also the more interesting weapons, so you quickly resort to using a combination of shotgun, machine gun, and rocket launcher as much as you can.
Of course, your ability to do this depends on what weapons have been placed in the map and where you happen to be, so you will just as easily find yourself forced to use a slow-drawing bow and arrow in a fast-paced FPS, or using pipe bombs to try and take out flying enemies in large open rooms, when pretty much any other weapons would be more suited.
The environments are made out of blocks, as you can imagine, but these blocks are double the typical size. Each one is the height of the character, making fan-made recreations of classic FPS maps pretty much unplayable. Taking the classic Unreal Tournament map Facing Worlds as an example, the slope between the two bases is made of blocks that you can’t see over. This doesn’t stop good maps being made, just that some tributes to classic maps may need some artistic license to allow for the limitations of recreating them out of cubes. Like trying to build the Taj Mahal out of Lego, it’s never quite the right shape.
Gunscape is aimed at giving players the tools to create their own old school FPS levels and maps, but Blow Fish Studios’ attempt to carve out a little niche is lacking in its execution. What remains is a game that could be of interest while you roam through player-made maps, but will ultimately be left behind as actually playing them will quickly tarnish any glimmer of hope it had.
Version tested: PlayStation 4