Budget games are something that were all over stores back when PC games were mainly sound in stores over digital platforms. A lot of them were re-releases of older games like Grand Theft Auto 3, but there were some games specifically made for budget releases. Games like Chrome, Alpha Black Zero, pretty much games no one has heard of and were bad. But, sometimes, there are some great games in those sections, and one of those games is Gun Metal, by Rage Software Limited in 2002 for PC and Xbox, not releated to Gun Metal by Mad Genius Software in 1998.
The people that made this game later went on to form Moonpod Studios, who advertise their games with "just gameplay, no gimmicks." That phrase is a pretty accurate way to summarize Gun Metal. Gun Metal is purely action with little unique about it. But the question is, does Gun Metal do this well enough to not need any additional features, or does it fall flat? Lets take a look and see, starting with the storyline!
Sometime in the future, humans have colonized the planet Helios. However, some aliens or something opposed to them followed them from Earth, and are attempting to wipe people out of Helios. In an attempt to retaliate, the military begins Project Gunmetal, a project to create a superpowered mech capable of turning into an airplane. And now it's your job to pilot the Gunmetal mech, defeat the aliens with a wide variety of weapons, and save humanity!
The storyline for the game is incredibly simple, but it works well enough and gets the job done. There's some additonal fluff in the form of briefings in between each mission, as told by a guy who seems to be way into his character. However, in a game where you're playing as a mech and has nothing to do with Battletech, story is by no means important, so how about that gameplay?
Gun Metal is a third person shooter, obviously, and it handles all of its mechanics quite well. The game uses a standard control scheme for the most part, although the mouse control is strange. Instead of having it locked to the middle of the screen, it functions similar to the Metroid Prime Trilogy versions of the Metroid Prime games, where you have to move your pointer to the end of any side of the screen in order to look.
The first time I played this game, it felt weird, but after a while I found the mouse control to be surprisingly comfortable. The main feature of Gun Metal is the ability to shift between a land mode, and an airmode in your mech. Both of those modes feature some major differences that make them both worthwhile, and require you to frequently switch between the two.
Land mode generally features weaker weapons, with the exception of the Triple Rocket Launcher. However, to make up for this, it has a shield that prevents it from taking damage until it's taken out, which is invaluable in many combat situations. In addition to that, it also has more accurate weapons that are capable of hitting both air and land targets with little trouble.
Air mode has a stronger main weapon, it can travel faster than land mode, and has the ability to bomb ground targets. However, not only is it impossible to stop mid air, you have no shield to protect you from damage, so any damage you DO take goes straight to your hull. A lot of its weapons tend to be less accurate too.
Each mode can carry four weapons to each mission, for a total of eight weapons. You get one unlimited weapon, usually a rifle or machine gun type weapon, two explosive weapons, and a special weapon. Weapons range from something as simple as a machine pistol, to a rocket launcher capable of shooting three rockets at once, and of course, guass cannons. It's hard to think of things more enjoyable in third person shooters than blowing up a mothership with the power of three rockets going at once.
As for levels you get to use these weapons in, they offer up a fair challenge, though sometimes they can be unfairly hard. Hit'n'Run and the final level are frustratingly unfair, but with the exception of those, it's pretty fun. They're all loaded with enemies and always keep up the action packed pace. Sadly though, the game only lasts about two to four hours, and while there is some replayability with higher difficulty modes and revisiting levels with new weapons, there's not much reason to revisit the game.
The gameplay for Gun Metal, overall, is very fun despite its simplicity, and it does what it needs to do well. As for graphis, Gun Metal looks impressive for the time and runs smoothly on my computer, and I remember it playing well on my Pentium 4. Sadly, it's locked to 30FPS which definitely hurts the action a bit.
As for the sound, every weapon packs a great punch. Even something as simple as a machine pistol feels great. The music is pretty good too, and the various environmental sounds are great too. The voice acting, what little there is, is cheesy but fun to listen to.
Overall, Gun Metal is a surprisingly enjoyable third person shooter despite being very basic. It doesn't try to be something it isn't, and it knows exactly what it is: a third person shooter focused on action and nothing else, and it does that quite well. As the game is very short, it's up to you if you want to pay the full $10 for the game, though it is definitely worth $5. Check it out if you get a chance, it's a fun ride and one with sticking with.