Gatling Gears First Look Preview

GDC 2011: We suit up in a steampunk walker and reduce our enemies to scrap metal during our hands-on demo of Gatling Gears.


Developer Vanguard Entertainment is taking you back to the land of Mistbound with Gatling Gears, a follow-up to last year's downloadable strategy game Greed Corp. And while Gatling Gears still bears the same cartoonish art style as its predecessor, the gameplay has switched from turn-based strategy to twin-stick shooter. We got the chance to go hands-on with the game during this year's GDC.

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Our instrument of destruction was a two-legged robotic walker piloted by Max Brawley. Despite his youthful appearance, we were assured that Max was a war veteran who had served with The Empire in years past. However, for reasons unknown, Max and The Empire had a falling out, so now he has sided with the Freemen Rebels and is taking the fight to his former employers.

Like all great twin-stick shooters, Gatling Gears was played primary with the two analog sticks. During our demonstration, we used an Xbox 360 gamepad, with the left stick controlling movement and the right stick managing our primary weapon: the Gatling gun. The Gatling gun was great for spraying a lot of bullets over a short distance, but when we needed to hit those far-away targets, we reached for our high-powered cannon. We also had access to limited supply of grenades, which were great for catching groups of enemies clustered together.

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Playing through the lone level we had access to felt very reminiscent of a classic vertical scrolling shooter, such as Ikaruga or the Raiden series. The enemy bullet patterns weren't blanketing the entire screen, but we still had to duck and weave around plenty of cluster bombs and enemy rockets. Destroying certain enemies dropped weapon power-ups into the world, as well as numerous tiny gears. These gears would increase our point multiplier, which would then go right back down as we took damage.

At the end of the stage, we rolled up on the hulking boss Shockstorm. Thankfully, we had stopped by an upgrade station before this encounter to refit our walker. By collecting and spending gold bars, you can upgrade your three weapons types, as well as your armor. There was also a section labeled "Unlockables," but we weren't allowed to touch that just yet.

Back at the boss fight, Shockstorm unloaded a barrage of tiny enemy drones for us to mow down with our wide-range Gatling gun. After seeing all of its little robot pals blown to bits, the machine pulled itself upright out of the ground and transformed into a giant version of our walker robot. We then had to dodge around several waves of lighting blasts before we did enough damage to blow off the robot's arms. Wounded, Shockstorm then tried to just crush us underfoot. However, we proved to be too quick and emerged the victors.

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Gatling Gear's bright, colorful world certainly made it easy on the eyes, but we're more interested in seeing what additions the developer has planned for the combat. The inclusion of drop-in/drop-out cooperative play, both online and off, should help keep the solid, if not simple, combat feeling fresh. Keep an eye out for Gatling Gears this spring on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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