Dated and Tough but Still Fun
Six years ago, fast paced mech shooter Assault Gunners launched on the PlayStation Vita. In 2012, it was a visually pleasing Armored Core type game that worked well with the Vita control schema, and it featured plenty of content and customization to boot. Still, the game suffered from repetition and a lack of mission variation. As the game launches into 2018, it receives an HD remastering and becomes available on PC and PS4 – but is it worth a purchase, or should it have been left in the annals of Vita history?
The first aspect of Assault Gunners HD that appealed to me was its stylized mech combat. I’ve grown up a fan of the likes of BattleTech, Gundam, Zone of the Enders, and all of those giant robot books, cartoons, anime, and games. In 2012, I never got a chance to play Assault Gunners, so I eagerly champed at the remaster bit. On all accounts, I wasn’t terribly disappointed, but the game itself still feels dated. Knowing it was published by Marvelous – a publisher I am a big fan of, even though the games they release are pretty niche – helped spur me through even the most stale of missions.
Assault Gunners HD puts you in the seat of your very own customizable mech at the command of a fully customizable squadron of four. Once you complete your training missions, you’ll set off on a pretty lengthy story arch that spans over 30 levels. As a member of the Peace Keeping Force DAT, you’re tasked with protecting immigrants from Earth as they attempt to colonize Mars and are being assaulted by a mysterious force. In addition to the 35 missions, Assault Gunners HD comes replete with an Inferno Mode (a horde type gameplay mode that sees you battle waves of enemies). Unfortunately for Assault Gunners HD, the numerous missions often fall into the same categories: destroy a variable amount of enemies, capture targeted points, and reach certain zones. The rinse and repeat approach to the game does its solid combat a disservice, as it takes what could be an interesting system and forces it stale. By the 10th mission, I had begun to tire of the gameplay.
While the setup of the story in Assault Gunners HD is a bit of a hindrance, the game itself is not all a tiresome task. Customization shines in Assault Gunner HD, as you can fully customize the look and loadout of each of your mechs. For being six years old, Assault Gunner HD’s over 100 customizable options is still pretty impressive today. At the least, you can spice up your mech hunting life by changing your appearances and weaponry.
As a whole, Assault Gunners HD feels terribly tired and dated. Combat, while enjoyable in spurts (which is its one saving grace, considering most missions are clearable in a matter of minutes), grows stale through the course of 35 missions that feature almost identical objectives. Visuals are shiny thanks to the HD remastering, and the settings at least vary as you progress through the story. Still, the game looks like its six years old, which is a tough obstacle to overcome on both the PC and PS4. Voice acting is fine if you prefer Japanese actors, but I hope you weren’t expecting to have time to read the dialogue. It flies by too quickly (and its white text is often hard to read) in the midst of combat heavy gameplay. When considering whether you should spend your hard earned money on Assault Gunners HD, ask yourselves two questions: Were you a fan of the original; can you stomach mech combat with little variations on repeat?