When I was younger (and perhaps more foolish) I managed to draw a great deal of enjoyment from a rather strange little game called GunZ: The Duel. This third-person platformer was all about quick fingers, melee, and parkour – I was hooked. You can imagine my excitement then, when I realized that there’s a sequel, currently in open beta on Steam. Does it live up to the legacy of the original?
Well…yes and no.
Full disclosure here: I’m kind of awful at this game. I’m not entirely certain why, or what it is about it, but…I can’t play to save my life. Keep that in mind as you read this review (though I’m not going to be commenting much on game balance – everything seems to be in order there).
One thing I’m going to say before moving on is that purist fans of the original should probably avoid GunZ 2. They have, unfortunately, gotten rid of K-Styling (they’re using a new engine, without the easily-exploitable flaws of the original). What that means is that you’re going to have to rely more on your standard outfit of moves. Unfortunately, while you’ve still got a pretty varied set of moves, the mechanics feel like they’ve been gutted somewhat, as well. Although you’re going to be moving with a fair bit of agility, GunZ 2 feels somewhat slower than its predecessor, with much less parkour than the original. What’s more, Although each of the four classes is somewhat unique in the gear available to them, melee ultimately feels the same whether you’re a Gunslinger or a Shield Trooper.
Oh, yeah. Forgot to mention: remember the awesome freedom you were afforded in GunZ? How you could design your character however you wanted, giving them whatever guns and cosmetic gear you saw fit? Yeah, say goodbye to that in the sequel, where the developers have inexplicably decided to switch over to a class system. At creation, you’re going to need to select one of the four different characters; the others will remain locked to you until you shell out either real money or a hefty sum of in-game cash.
That’s strike one against GunZ 2, and a significant one, at that.
There’s also a severely limited range of cosmetic items available for your character compared against the previous game – though admittedly, this may be due to GunZ 2 still being in beta. I’ll give it a pass on this, as the team behind it could well release more stuff as the game moves past its beta stage. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they don’t make it pay to win, though certain elements (like the respawn coins, which let you revive your character in the single-player missions and cost $2.95 a pop) don’t really bode well, nor does the somewhat exorbitant price of most of the stuff in the shop.
Ultimately, I don’t dislike GunZ 2…but I don’t like it all that much, either. It’s sort of…bland and soulless, in spite of how good it looks and sounds. That’s a shame, given how fun the original was (though admittedly, I might be looking at it through rose-colored glasses). Ah, well. Back to Loadout. That game’s giving me more entertainment than this one possibly could.