Doom clone. Instead of thinking up a more original description, game critics in the 1990s called every first-person shooter a "Doom clone." While we can lay some of the blame on creatively challenged writers, the truth is that Doom was a big deal. I mean a real big deal. Suddenly every game developer had a 3D corridor shooter in the works. That condescending term was used all the way up until Half-Life and GoldenEye 007 hit the scene. The genre had finally graduated from Doom clone to first-person shooter.
Gun Commando is a Doom clone in every sense of the term. You can practically feel the heat from Hell on Mars while playing this corridor-heavy shooter. I don't use that term in a pejorative way. In fact, I suspect the developers would embrace the comparison. It's an homage to a type of shooter that simply isn't made anymore. And as a result, it shares many of the same problems that plagued Doom and the games it inspired.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: You play Jack Bennett, a smart-mouthed gun-for-hire who has been tasked with saving Earth from a race of alien lizards. What makes him the man for the job? It turns out that he has a thing for weapons and the proper amount of guts to take on the seemingly endless horde of baddies. It's a recipe for a fun, albeit flawed, shooter.
The graphics and gameplay come directly out of the 16-bit era. All of the characters are sprites and the mess of colorful pixels in front of you is supposed to be the wall. Beyond the old school look, our hero is limited in movement. You'll quickly discover that you aren't able to jump, and forget all about vertical aiming. Even the level designs are meant to evoke the spirit of the classic Doom clone.
Thankfully, Gun Commando differs from those classic games in a few interesting ways. The most obvious is the power-up mechanic, which rewards players who always hit their target. It all starts with a dinky pea shooter, but the power meter will increase with each direct hit. Fill up the meter and upgrade the weapon. But beware, because the inverse is true. Miss a bunch of shots and you'll be stripped of the powerful gun.
I also appreciated that the game's emphasis was more on shooting bad guys than solving complicated mazes. While fun, I often grew frustrated by the overly elaborate level designs in Doom. The levels in Gun Commando are straight forward and fun to play in short doses. The developers could have loaded the game up with colored keys and other nonsense, but they wisely leave that for the very end.
Gun Commando is a solid Doom clone with a number of fresh ideas. Unfortunately, it is plagued by imprecise controls and too many cheap deaths. Even with that weighing against it, this is still preferable to most first-person shooter games on the PS Vita!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!