Gunmetal Updated Preview
We take an updated look at Rage's third-person action game that features a transforming robot.
While fans of Transformers will have to wait for a game featuring transforming Autobots and Decepticons, Rage Software has been hard at work on Gunmetal, a third-person action game that features an enormous robot named Gunmetal that's capable of transforming into a jet and bears a striking resemblance to Starscream. All throughout the game, you'll have to use Gunmetal's primary and secondary forms in order to complete objectives spread out over the course of several missions. Naturally, you'll have plenty of different weapons at your disposal in both forms, but since secondary damage plays an important role early on in the game, you'll find that some weapons will be much more effective in certain situations.
Most of the early missions in Gunmetal are fairly straightforward, as you'll be charged with defending various civilian outposts that are under attack. Before the start of each mission, you'll go through a briefing screen that provides a small amount of detail on the current situation and what sort of opposition you'll be facing. In addition, there's a fully modeled map that you can rotate and zoom in on to get a general idea of what the area looks like and where the important civilian installations are. Unfortunately, the briefings aren't all that helpful at this point, because most of the important information is relayed during the actual mission via radio chatter.
The first mission has been designed so that you'll get a taste of what it's like to use the massive robot's primary form and its alternate jet form. In the first portion of the mission, you have to defend a civilian installation that's under attack by a series of enemy tanks. While it's possible undertake this part of the mission in Gunmetal's jet form, the weapons that you have--missiles and napalm, among others--aren't particularly accurate, so you run the risk of collateral damage to the civilians in the area. Instead, you should use the primary robot form and its more accurate weapons. However, once you've dealt with the initial threat, the mission commander will tell you that you need to perform reconnaissance on another part of the map to see if enemies are attacking yet another installation.
This is one of the rare moments in Gunmetal where you won't have to worry about taking down any enemies, as this particular structure isn't under fire, but it does give you an opportunity to become familiar with the way your jet form functions. But shortly after you reach this particular area, the mission commander chimes in yet again and lets you know that civilian farms are under attack in another area. Collateral damage plays an even stronger role here, because if too many farms are destroyed by stray missiles, then you will be unable to complete the mission.
More Than Meets the Eye
At this point in the mission, you can use either form of Gunmetal. If you feel comfortable enough with Gunmetal's jet form and its weapons, then you can easily take out the group of aerial enemies that are awaiting you. But if you haven't quite gotten the hang of it, the robot form will work just as well. These sorts of options will present themselves quite often in Gunmetal, and it's up to you to choose the most appropriate actions to take in order to complete the objectives and minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage.
There are some missions in Gunmetal where the people you're trying to protect aren't completely defenseless. In fact, there are times when friendly ships and infantry will provide a decent amount of support during a battle, but it appears that in most cases, you'll eventually end up defending them as well. In one of the later missions, a couple of friendly dropships come into an area to deliver some infantry to engage groups of enemy infantry that are attacking a science outpost. However, the dropships meet with heavy opposition in the form of tanks, and they ask you to help them out. Since collateral damage isn't as important in this part of the mission, you're free to use Gunmetal's jet form weapons, such as bombs or barrages of missiles. In fact, the jet form is really the only suitable choice in this instance, as the enemy tanks in this mission are heavily armored, which makes it difficult to take them out quickly with the robot's weapons. This is also a mission where you'll get to engage in some dogfights, as the enemy bombers that move into the area are incredibly fast.
The controls in Gunmetal are fairly easy to use. You can transform from one mode into the other with a single press of a button, and you can also cycle through weapons and jump. While in jet form, you can perform an evasive barrel roll by pressing a particular button, and you can get a nice boost in speed by pressing in on the right analog stick. The current build of the game features an auto-aim option, but you're probably better off sticking with manual, as the auto-aim only allows you to the move the targeting reticle from side to side.
Gunmetal bears a strong resemblance to Incoming, one of Rage's first games. The enemy ship designs look somewhat similar, and the environments (while massive to accommodate the flying aspect of the game) have a generic look. However, there are some nice details in the game. Forests will catch on fire or be cut apart, depending on the type of weapon you're using, and there's plenty of native animal life in portions of some missions. You can also clearly see enemy and friendly infantry walking on the ground and firing their weapons. The Gunmetal character model is detailed, and its transition from robot to jet mode is seamless.
From what we can see, the game is just about done, and it's shaping up to be a solid third-person game with plenty of action to keep you busy. It's currently scheduled to ship at the end of July.
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