GAME NAME: Guncraft
DEVELOPER(S): Exato Game Studios
PUBLISHER(S): Reverb Publishing
RELEASE DATE(S): August 10th 2013 (Steam), July 11th 2013 (Desura, Other Download sites)
Because ‘Minecraft’ is an insanely popular game, a lot of voxel-based clones have emerged with various features, which the Mojang title did not have. Some of them contained guns, especially ‘Ace of Spades’ that came on Steam not so long ago. But what if you combined the greatness of Call of Duty games, with Minecraft’s great building powers? Well you get Guncraft of course!
This game – which has been accepted via Steam Greenlight – is an online multiplayer shooter, which involves in choosing customizable classes with different weapons and perks, and taking out enemies using tactical manoeuvres; a much simpler description of this would be that it plays very much like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. However, not only the game is made mostly out of blocks, but it also comes with a destructible landscape and some tools to place in with more blocks. These features would set Guncraft apart from other clones, as the players would have to use the environment in order to gain more kills.
A few connection issues and interface quirks aside, I was able to participate in many online matches. The modes can range from Deathmatch and CTF, to the more inventive ones including Lava Survival (avoid rising lava to win) and Racing. There’s even a mode called ‘Onslaught’, in which up to 4 players can work together to destroy robots for points, much like CoD Zombies and Team Fortress 2’s ‘Mann vs. Machine’.
After a few moments of gameplay, I started to enjoy taking out enemies. Not every server is free from lag, but I was able to jump into sessions with multiple players, and juggled between “killstreaks”, guns and building tools to outsmart the enemies. The classes are customizable – including the player skin – though the pre-built ones did a good job of introducing the players to the game’s main weapons. The game does come with Assault Rifles, Machine Guns, Sniper Rifles and Pistols. There’s also a Slingshot, which lets players fling towards the unreachable places, and there’s a bazooka named ‘Blockbuster’, where its rockets can blow up areas of the map for easy shortcuts, and kills.
I really did enjoy the game. Its variety of unique killstreaks and community maps really embraced the experience. I was having the fun out of building towers and shelters for safe places, and destroying blocks for shortcuts to get to unsuspecting foes. The opportunities are wild! There are even some vehicles, including snowmobiles, tanks and helicopters, for extra blockbusting fun, and players can use parachutes for that safe landing.
I was somehow disappointed with the lack of single-player elements, which would’ve allowed me to practice on playing the game and get used to its clunky interface. That’s right, if you don’t have access to online/LAN multiplayer, then there’s no point in playing this game. The only Tutorial parts of this shooter are those in-game hints, which often display during the multiplayer matches. Almost all of them would explain about the buttons, and what each of them does (e.g. Q for switching between weapons). I had to look at the options for the control scheme, and there are too many buttons connected to specific functions; for example, players would have to press H to hover, instead of double tapping the space bar, like in Minecraft.
Guncraft also comes with an ability to create maps and weapons via its built-in editor. It works in the same way as playing the matches, as players can build various objects with various blocks in first person. It’s quite simple to use, although not very fluid in placing blocks. It does come with a neat ability to create and place in prehabs, where each of them contains pre-built objects. The default set includes lights, shelters and towers, which are decent enough for the basic map build. More interestingly that players can even insert prehabs during online games, which is in fact cool (yes, you can sniper nests in a few clicks). Prehabs really does speed up the construction of custom assets, and that’s something Minecraft is really missing out on.
Once users have completed their great works of art, they can upload them to the Guncraft servers online. Once their maps, weapons, and player skins are approved by the community, they will be shared by others and may even appear in online matches. So technically, the game may grow over time with new content and make it much fresher to play.
It does come with a neat ability to create and place in prehabs, where each of them contains pre-built objects.
I’ve tried out various maps online and some are set in villages, cities, landscapes and castle strongholds. They did work out as enjoyable maps, as they have different paths to take, and many places to hide; though the rest of the maps are not very practical, especially if they are based on landmarks and objects. There is a map where players would spawn in a cramped aircraft (no economy class puns please), before they jump out into the mouth of a sculptured crocodile; apart from the temple entrances at the boundaries, that’s basically about it. I’ve experienced many maps where they lack good lighting, spawn points and tactical patterns. Because the maps are created and chosen by the community, the players are most likely to be able to awe at the artworks and find ways to survive, than to plan out their motives.
I have to say that Guncraft does indeed have very good concepts, and it has mixed them up into an enjoyable game. Once you get used to its vague and cluttered interface, you’ll have a lot of great time blowing up the environment, trying out a cocktail of modes, and building stuff inside and outside of the game’s built-in editor. It’s got room for improvement, which can be remedied by patch updates and the increasing amounts of community content. That depends on how many people are playing this game, and at the moment it needs more. This is not for those who seek single-player campaigns and training modes for practice, it actually focuses on its core of online multiplayer. But since it acts differently by providing something that Minecraft didn’t scratch on, this game would deserve a second look from curious gamers.