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Review: Gunjack

by onFebruary 20, 2017
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When they first announced PlayStation VR many publishers started talking about the possibilities of expanding some of their existing titles into this new territory but very few knew what they were doing. Now that VR has been around for couple of months, we can already see that it is possible to turn certain experiences into something more appealing. Games started pouring down where the focus was more on the mechanics instead of these long narrative campaigns that we are all used to.

One of the titles that was very keen on showing off their skills was EVE. This video game has been around since 2003 and has since been hosting countless of space battles between players in EVE Online constantly redefining what a massive online game can do. During the launch, EVE promised a series of titles for their fans with the first one being EVE: Valkyrie. With this title, it was an easy task to capture core gamers around the world, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be the top gun in a space fighting game where you control your own ship and destiny. It quickly became the poster child for what VR stands for. What many don’t know is that Crowd Control Productions immediately released a second VR title along with Valkyrie. EVE: Gunjack! Now before we begin, you need to know is that Gunjack originally was supposed to launch for mobile phone VR headsets in collaboration with Samsung so do not be shocked when you see the simplicity of this title along with the mechanics.

In Gunjack, you play the role of Eight, an average worker in an ore refinery space station. You are put in the hot seat and your mission is to defend that station from pirates. The weapon is a 5-ton turret ready to annihilate any incoming threats. This stationary turret defense game is not complicated and you quickly find out that it is not a bad thing. Because of its simplicity, it is easy for you to just sit there and have bursts of short hours played without noticing time flying by. One thing you need to understand here is that the game was originally designed for mobile gaming hence many of its mechanics stayed loyal to that platform. For example, each mission follow your typical Angry birds 3 stars’ success rate and each level is unlocked by a specific number of stars that you accumulate. Obviously, the missions become progressively more difficult with stronger enemies to kill. Think of a 3D revolutionized VR version of space invaders.

It is worth mentioning that the mobile factor does not hinder the graphics. I found myself sitting in the turret looking around the vast galaxy and really getting that sense of peace. Reminded me of episodes from Doctor Who, where they just stood on top of the galaxy looking at planets and fields of asteroids. They did a remarkable job on that front.

In terms of controls, the game sticks to its original mobile design. Your head is essentially your right analog stick. You steer the direction of the turret. The head tracking precision in this game is exceptional, no lags, loss of position and any sort of issue that I could have noticed while playing.

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The missions are very repetitive. The game itself is not long, you have 20 short levels and 2 bonus challenges. Therefore, I recommend you play this in short bursts, like most arcade games, it will keep drawing you back in. The enemy pattern becomes extremely repetitive and easily predictable up until the last 2 levels where you become overwhelmed with the number of enemies which leaves you with a sore neck.

One thing I really liked about this game is the variety of power ups you get. Certain enemy ships will give you power ups when you destroy them. They go all the way from artillery weapon to some awesome status field generators but are always predetermined. This shows you how predictable and telegraphed this game is. For example, you get the laser beam, you can automatically expect a swarm of enemies that can only be put down using the laser.

In terms of storytelling, this game has really nothing to offer. It was a bit disappointing not to see any depth to the title specially coming out of EVE. It is pretty much you in a turret’s cock pit shooting things. When you’re not in the cock pit then all you have is this voice that we assume is your supervisor with some station announcement. The voice acting was horrendous, certain times I heard the same things repeated twice with no real logic behind it. Felt like they just needed to have someone say something.

Gunjack was reviewed using a PlayStation 4 digital code of the game provided by CCP Games. The game is also available on both the Occulus Rift and HTC Vive for PC, as well as Android powered mobile phones supporting VR. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published

What we liked

• Polished experience
• A good way to show how VR can revolutionize certain genres

What is not fun

• Power ups are the only thing that makes it fun
• After 20 levels, your neck starts to hurt
• No real story or clear connection to EVE
• Become monotonous
• Very predictable
• The narrative

Editor Rating
 
Concept
5.2

 
Graphics
6.8

 
Sound
4.0

 
Playability
9.5

 
Entertainment
8.3

 
Replay Value
7.0

Final Score
6.8


Our final verdict
 

When it comes to space combat in VR, the honor remains with EVE: Valkyrie however when we talk about shooters, Gunjack sets the margins high. It is not your ultimate VR experience but it does fulfil its role of the quick high score junky burst game. Overall it is fun to play and for $9.99, it is worth having if you enjoy good simple fun games.

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