Gunman Chronicles (PC) Review

Developer: Rewolf / Publisher: Sierra


When I first saw Gunman Chronicles, I thought it would be a cool sci-fi action game with robots and aliens. After all, it was backed by the Half Life engine. When I first PLAYED it, I thought it was a Half-Life suck-up. Boy, was I wrong…somewhat, on both accounts…but don’t get out your checkbook yet; this game still sucks.

From what I read, Gunman Chronicles was actually made as a total conversion for Half-Life (which would explain the frightening similarities in game play: the main menu, the tram ride intro, the same gibs flying, even the listing of “Half-Life” in my ctrl-alt-delete menu.) The bad move came when Valve and Sierra, impressed with the effort Rewolf Studios, a group of kids from different parts of the world (who never met each other, ANOTHER bad move,) put into the mod, took Rewolf under their wing and put their project out as a stand alone retail game. As far as I’m concerned, this game is only for the die-hard FPS fan who likes to blow stuff up…like me. Other than that, the game sucks, and needs a HELL of a lot of work.

The plot is a bit Half-Lifeish: You are Major Archer, the leader of the Gunmen, the law of the galaxy. On one mission to explore a planet, giant worms jump out and start eating some of the men (I know.) Your general, the “brave” man that he was, tries to save your men, but as you and your men run like bats out of hell to escape, the general’s ship gets attacked and swallowed in one gulp. Right now, the general is grade-A pissed that you left him there, whining all the time that you “forgot” that silicon-based creatures can’t digest organic matter. So after he frees himself, he tries to kill you.

Jumping into the fray are the Xenomes (Xen….Xenomes…are you getting the picture yet?), genetically engineered killers. You have to fight these freaks the majority of the game. Then comes the Mainframe, a hard-assed computer with a bloodlust, who joins you later in your quest and helps you along.

Gameplay (5/10):

The game starts you off in this big station. The nice thing about this game is the training mission is incorperated into the game, so you get hands-on training right before you go out and kick ass. But there is one flaw: All the soilders look and talk the same. And another thing: they all sound like game show announcers; I was almost expecting them to say, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”

The only vechile (sic?) you get to drive is a tank, but it makes up for that by being invincible and well equipped: a cannon, two machine guns, and a (one) homing missile launcher, all with unlimited ammo. Other than that, you’re mostly on foot…with guns. There are less than 10 weapons, but the game also makes up for this by allowing you to customize the guns by right mouse clicking to bring up an interface. Most of the weapons suck, however, for the exception of the shotgun and Mecha gun (a modified version of a machine gun.) The sniper rifle is good for headshots, and the M.U.L.E portable rocket launcher is good for nuking masses of enemies and clearing out areas, but other than that, the weapons blow.

After you get to the second planet, the Mainframe sics its drones on you. The thing is, the Mainframe hardly sounds like a computer and more like someone hollering over an intercom. All that aside, you’re basically fighting drones and Xenomes until you make friends with the Mainframe and it calls off its drones. These fellows become trusty allies with their firepower, so watch your fire when you’re blasting Xenomes with drones in the way. The cool thing is the escape sequence, where, while you’re trying to get to the Aerial Drone that will take you to (crash land on) the third planet, drones and Xenomes are doing battle left and right.

The third planet is a desert, ruled by annoying scorpions which you can squish by just stepping on them. Their granddaddies take a lot more firepower to destroy, however. At some points guys fly around in crudely built helicopters trying to machine gun you down, but they can be shot down with two blasts from the sniper rifle or a shot from the tank’s cannon. When you drop into the secret bunker, though, things really start to kick up.

Oh, and the cacti CAN hurt you, but not much.

The thing that sucks is that the end battle (and the entire game, for that matter) is too easy. During the end, you have to protect the Mainframe’s new drone from these ugly little Xenomes (who look exactly like minature versions of Half-Life 2’s Ant Lion and are equally as annoying as Half-Life’s headcrabs) while the Mainframe nukes the General’s big-ass machine. And the General dies too easily: he gets eatten again in a cutscene. It would of been more satisfying to rip him to shreads myself.

The thing I like about the game is there’s guts galore. Gibs sprinkled here and there really make the FPS, although the guys explode too easily.

I also liked the endgame movie, where the Gunman High Command lays waste to some Xenomes.

Rated five out of ten because the gameplay is too Half-Life and gets boring fast for anyone who isn’t a die hard FPS fan.

Graphics (7/10):

I find it wrong to shoot a game down just because the graphics suck, but since almost everything about this game sucked, I can make an exception. The graphics were great, but not “oh-my-god-is-that-Half-Life-2?” great. The models of characters could of been rendered a bit better and the skins made a bit cleaner…and would more variety kill you people? With so many dudes looking the same it’s enough to give a person deja-vu.

Sound/Music (4/10):

Some of the sounds are hollow, like they were “recorded in a metal drum.” (PC Gamer.) The voice-acting doesn’t capture the emotion of the game, and the General’s laugh sucks. Plus I would of liked it if the Mainframe sounded more like a computer than Whoopi Goldberg on a bad day. The only thing that kicks ass is the music, which you can play on your CD player.

Crappiest Part:

The annoying, but laughable, glitches. There’s one I call the “dead-man-walking” glitch where some of the guys you kill stand back up. They don’t attack or anything, they just stand there and you can’t shoot them down again. But it’s funny to see a guy with no head standing upright.

Another bug I’ve noticed is on the third planet. When trying to climb down the cliff-face, I fell and got stuck. I can’t jump off, but I could shoot myself off or blow myself up. This bug REALLY sucks when you’ve saved the game at that point.

The worst bug is that you can’t get back to the main menu, which means you better figure out which button is the quick-save button (F6) and you’ll have to press ctrl-alt-delete to quit the game. Blame that and my crappy screenshot program for the lack of Gunman Chronicles screen shots.

Another annoying thing is that every so often I have to reinstall the game because it won’t load. And sometimes it doesn’t even work then.

Overall Score:

This game is fun for those who like to blow stuff up and waste people, but other than that it isn’t worth the Alexander Hamilton.

And in the immortal words of the April Fool, “What’s up with that?”

Overall: 16/30 (53%)

(basically, a 5/10)


Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, The (PS2) Review

Developer: Radical Games / Publisher: Sierra || Overall: 8.7/10

It’s open to question whether The Incredible Hulk has ever gotten a game worthy of his comic book heritage — that is until VU Games released The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction! And what a game it is. Set in a GTA-style “free roam” world, you are the Hulk and the city is yours to destroy as you please. Filled with enough variety to keep anyone who enjoys the game busy for a while, you’ll encounter experiences that really can not otherwise be had if it weren’t for the fact you are The Hulk.

As one of the few games released based on a comic book character that is not based on a movie, Ultimate Destruction is the best comic book character game I’ve played since Spider-Man for the PlayStation. At The Hulk’s disposal are a myriad of attacks and abilities that will take a lot of practice to master being able to use all of them effectively. As you progress farther and farther the action gets more and more intense as the enemies become harder, faster, and larger forcing you to learn how to use the abilities strategically. The battle system is chock full of so many abilities that you get a feeling of freedom as you control the Hulk. You can do anything from a simple punch to creating a force shockwave in the ground, to swinging a tank around and around, launching it at a foe. Once you reach Critical Mass (the state which The Hulk is at his strongest), all of his attacks become more powerful, as well as having the ability to use special attacks that create huge amounts of damage. After each chapter of the story missions you complete, more abilities will be available for you to buy.

There are a few types of collectibles that are important to say the least. Green orbs (that can come in different sizes) add health to Hulk’s gauge, and is also required to add energy to the Critical Mass gauge as well. At certain points you’ll be able to increase your gauges and increase your power. Yellow orbs give you a certain amount of “Smash Points.” Smash Points are used to buy new moves for Hulk to use, and other than acquiring the yellow orbs, you get them basically by smashing or destroying anything. While very easy to obtain, you’ll need a lot of Smash Points to buy new moves. Green “C”s representing comic books are also floating around. These “comic books” give you extra things such as unlockables in the extras gallery (like enemy renders, Hulk renders, making of movies, etc.), cheats, and Smash Points. There are also green question marks that give you hints about the game play and things you can do. Supposedly if you collect all the hint question marks, something good happens, so it entices you to look around for the hints or at least get them when you see them.

Most of the enemies you’ll encounter are military units from the United States Army. You’ll encounter no mercy as they send tanks, harrier jets, helicopters, rocket launchers, infantry, and developed-just-to-kill-The-Hulk Hulkbusters. The Hulkbusters are simply just mechs, and as you progress through the story missions they will become more and more of a nuisance as they get stronger, faster, bigger, and team up on you. But if you’re good at the game, you’re usually not going to have too much trouble with them. The only times they REALLY get challenging is when you fight a huge robot in a boss battle, which happens quite often. One of the shining aspects of the game is that the boss battles take a long time, not being all too boring at all since they really challenge your skills and are very fast-paced nature.

In addition to the linear story missions, there are “challenges” that put The Hulk into unique situations to have fun in. Some of the challenges include seeing how fast you can get through a predetermined path, kicking field goals with a car, and quite a few that have you destroy as many enemies as possible in a limited amount of time. You’re also able to revisit the challenges (once you complete them the first time after finding them on the map) from the menu screen, which allows you to see the whole list of all the challenges and the records that you hold in each. This feature makes it seem like it’d almost be fun to play with a friend because the challenges are so different and require different skills, and when it comes down to it, they’re really just mini-games.

What is great about the game as a whole is that nearly everything can be interacted with including being picked up and thrown, and weaponized. Weaponization allows you to create weapons out of the things around you, and in conjunction with your other abilities, you can use them to defeat your enemies. For example, you can create “steel fists” out of small cars, “shields” out of larger trucks (that can double as a skateboard-type thing), and huge bowling balls. You can also catch, punch-back, and use missiles to destroy enemies.

The story itself follows Eric Banner in his pursuit of creating a machine that will allow him to be cured of The Hulk before he loses all his sanity. Throughout the adventure, you’ll encounter your arch-nemesis of sorts, called The Abomination, who is basically another Hulk-type mutant of a man named Emil Blonsky. His roots and intentions are explained well, and you’ll be seeing him quite a few times throughout.

Not saying that the game is perfect, there are problems with it that I’d like to point out. While most is nearly flawless in its execution, the biggest problem is the loading. Before each mission/challenge you undertake you’ll have to sit there waiting for the loading to finish, which is obvious, but this wouldn’t have been something to complain about if it wasn’t for the fact that the loading takes a long time, and if you retry a mission/challenge it has to load everything again. Another problem was that I felt the city didn’t look as diverse as it should have been. There aren’t many special landmarks or easily identifiable buildings which would usually be characteristic of a true city.

Any reservations I had about the game when I played the demo have all been forgotten, and I’m glad to have experienced The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction in all its astonishing fun. Just by being able to do things like throw a bus at a helicopter floating above a building, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is definitely the ultimate Hulk game. The world of Ultimate Destruction is yours to rampage through, and it’s pretty incredible.