Clash of Clans Console Edition
GUNS UP! is a free WWII-style, side-scrolling strategy game on the PS4. If you’re a fan of Clash of Clans but wished it was on a console, then this is the game for you. However, the game’s inherent immobility lets it down. Clash of Clans is wildly successful, in part because it’s on a mobile platform. You can take the game anywhere and play it anywhere. But GUNS UP! is tied to the PS4, which is under the TV and never moving. You’re forced to sit down and set aside time to play it. If I’m forced to sit down in front of my television, as opposed to being bored at a doctor’s office or in line at the DMV, I want to play a game that fully satisfies. GUNS UP! never quite reaches this level and I was ultimately left disappointed, like I’d been given a bag of Cheetos when I was expecting a sandwich.
Like Clash of Clans, the object of the game is to recruit troops and storm enemy bases. You’re given three base troops to attack enemy bases with. The grunts, who are cheap, but basically useless. The assault troops, who are slightly better versions of grunts. And your grenadiers, who are slow moving, but deal heavy damage. Eliminating enemy bases earns you munitions (game currency), which you use to upgrade your base’s defenses. Successfully attacking and defending earns you experience points, which you can use to level up. Leveling up unlocks better defenses and troops, which you can spend munitions on to build and recruit, which enable you to defeat tougher bases.
The game deviates slightly from the Clash of Clans model through cards which grant special abilities. Each successful attack or defense earns you at least three cards. You earn either Attack or Perk cards. Attack cards either grant your troops special abilities, such as increased fire rate or health, or give the player powers to use when your troops are attacking. For example, you can place a decoy to momentarily distract the defenders. Or, you can call in air strikes to eliminate strategic fortifications. Perk cards enhance specific kinds of troops, like grunts or assault troops. For example, a perk card can increase your assault troops’ health or permanently lower their cost. Cards that appear often can be combined to upgrade them and increase their effectiveness. For example, three bronze Perk cards can be combined to create a silver Perk card.
The gameplay is simple, but fun. Building bases is easy and cheap in the beginning. My only complaint is that your building area seems cramped and small. Your defenses take up large areas and there are lots of natural obstructions, such as trees and boulders. They can be destroyed, but the items needed are not common. Attacking bases are quick and enjoyable battles. Before each battle, you choose the kinds of troops and attack cards you want to use. You spawn on the same dark and war torn muddy field with your transport truck. You’re give a set amount of currency and must purchase your forces. The truck drops them once you’ve clicked on them and they saunter off towards the enemy base. When destroyed, enemy base’s defenses or troops drop munitions (so you can purchase reinforcements) or special abilities, such as a missile or decoy. The base wins if it manages to defeat your troops and destroy your transport truck. The attack wins if you destroy their HQ. Battles never last longer than three minutes, and you know within a minute whether you’re going to win or lose.
Unfortunately, battles are more often about skill then luck. Since you can’t manually control where your soldiers go or what buildings they’ll attack, you’re stuck hoping that they’ll at least show some semblance of strategy. More often than not, they’re morons. They’ll attack a small building or wall, while completely ignoring the machine gun turret blasting them to bits. Additionally, your victory will be determined by how lucky you are with attack cards. If the enemy troops or buildings are dropping you abilities like missiles or tear gas, then your victory is assured. But if the enemy is dropping you nothing but rally flags, there’s nothing you can do. Whenever I lost, I simply shrugged my shoulders. It wasn’t because I had made poor strategic decisions, I just had poor attack cards. It felt like losing at a slot machine.
Battles quickly become a drag once you realize they’re the ONLY way to gain munitions. There is no way to manufacture munitions at your home base. And once you get past level seven, the bases becomes significantly tougher. These require you to earn massive amounts of munitions to unlock the new soldiers. The more effective they are, the more they cost. The Ranger, for example, costs 150,000 to unlock. You only earn around 3 to 4 thousand munitions per battle and if (like me) you only have 10,000 munitions, then it’s going to take at least 30 to 40 battles before you can unlock anything halfway decent. The battles now switch from being lighthearted fun to a grind. You can pay real money to unlock things that faster, but that ultimately defeats the purpose of a free game.
Clash of Clans solves this problem by enabling you to create structures that generate resources for you. You can build and upgrade a gold mine that will generate gold while you’re away from the game. When you come back to your base the next day, you’re significantly closer to the amount needed to build your next structure or unlock a new soldier type. GUNS UP! would benefit substantially from a building that generated munitions.
The visuals are perfectly adequate. The war torn battle field is well done, but quickly becomes stale once you’ve seen it for the twentieth time. The game successfully captures the World War II style it’s aiming for, but with a title like GUNS UP!, I was hoping for something more zany or weird. The music is your standard military soundtrack with drums and trumpets. The explosions and battle sounds are all exactly what you’d expect.
In conclusion, while GUNS UP! accurately transfers the style and gameplay of Clash of Clans to the PS4, it doesn’t provide much reason to keep playing it. The battles are fun and the attack cards offer some variety, but the game quickly becomes dragged down by monotony. Since I can only earn currency (without paying real money) through battles and that amount of currency is only a small fraction of the currency needed to unlock Building X or Soldier Y, the game devolves into a grind. Honestly, it starts to feel like a day job. I have to log in, do the same menial task for hours, and only earn a small fraction of the money I feel I should earn. I don’t want another job. If I’m going to play a game that demands massive amount of time spent on it, then I’m going to play a game that earns it with a compelling story, varied gameplay, and interesting characters.