Developed by one-man studio, Radioactive Software, Gettysburg: Armoured Warfare may be oozing with ambition, though isn’t the mid-Spring indie gem some will have been holding out for. Plucking on the time travel narrative thread the game is surprisingly light on the exposition, a shame really as there was potential for a bizarre yet perplexing tale.
A mad scientist has warped back in time to the American Civil War where he bestows the Union and Confederate soldiers with a gallery of futuristic weapons and vehicles. It’s an interesting set-up, though ultimately let down by lack of variety and primitive gameplay.
With no singleplayer campaign (or even a tutorial) to get sunk into, Gettyburg shunts you in the direction of its multiplayer core almost immediately. Featuring one primary game mode, and four fairly basic maps, it’s clear within minutes that Armoured Warfare isn’t bringing much to the table; even though the downloadable shooter is only eight quid you really expect a little more. In fact, Gettyburg’s only trump card is its blend of third person shooter/real time strategy gameplay which will prove amusing, but only for a short while.
Each skirmish starts in a similar fashion with bots occupying empty slots left by absent players. Both teams will deploy in starting camps diametrically opposed to one another, each one cordoning in a cluster of units. Players will always begin the match by occupying an aerial view of the battleground, Gettyburg’s selling point being that you can double click on any free unit and assume direct control, instantly switching to a third person point of view.
Units come in a small number of varieties including foot soldiers, cavalry, light/heavy vehicles, and air support; however, unlike your everyday online shooter, there isn’t much balance between them. Though effective against enemy infantry, foot soldiers haven’t got a chance when confronted by a tank, the go-to unit choice for any player wanting to actually score some points. The only other practical choice happens to be the zepellin; capable of firing cannon bursts, it can easily tear a ground unit to shreds without repercussion. To tip the scales even further when a unit is at low health players can simply hit the escape key to warp back into field view to select another unit without incurring a “death” on their score sheet.
With flags/bases having very little tactical significance, each skirmish descends into a wave of bloodshed that ultimately ends up with a few players racking up insane kill counts, the bots trailing behind. After a few games and witnessing the slight change of scenery each map has to offer, it’s likely most players will be ready to throw the towel in. An army builder and rank system do exist though lack any degree of meaning or substance, Gettyburg carrying very little replay incentive.
Where visual presentation is concerned, we can’t really dock points; after all, this is mostly the work of one man. It’s hardly CryENGINE 3, but fits the bill and rarely stutters, despite there being some bugs when launching the game and navigating menus. Sound effects are sub standard as is the accompanying soundtrack, though these are hardly the areas in which you will judge Gettysburg: Armored Warfare as a whole.
- Unique gameplay design.
- Each unit has a distinct feel.
- Not enough variety.
- No standalone singleplayer content.
- Bots are too easy to gun down.
- Rank system and army add very little.
- Some crippling bugs when booting the game.
Attempting something unique should always be admired, especially considering the amount of rehashes and increasing lack of innovation we see year after year. However, from a critical perspective, ambitious concepts can only go so far, and if poorly executed, can ultimately lead to a game’s downfall. Gettysburg may not be a complete misfire (it will likely provide hours of mind-numbing enjoyment for some) though considering the quality of cheaper -or even free- alternatives, it will have a hard time convincing savvy gamers otherwise.