Thursday, May 25, 2006

If Guns Can Roar, Can Lions Shoot?

The "special something" alluded to last week is something I've handily managed to avoid over the course of the days following. Needless to say, but said anyway - that's not something in the cards for today's post.

As someone who keeps as close an eye on the scene as I do, it's nothing other than a damn shame that it's taken me so long to get around to playing Kenta Cho's latest game, Gunroar. It's a mystery to me how one man can consistently create some of the best shooters I've ever encountered, but it's not necessarily one I'd like to see solved. All the Cho trademarks are in place: Abstract blocky yet startlingly beautiful graphics? Check. Crazy music? Check. Frequent boss battles? Check.

While I'm not sure yet if it's going to claim the place of my favorite of the "series", Gunroar is most definitely a strong contender. For the first time in a Kenta Cho game, the element of cover has been introduced in the form of islands scattered about the vertically scrolling levels, complete with emplaced weaponry. This seemingly inconsequential new element gives the shooting a much more tactical feel, as the islands do block shots.

You'll be warned of enemy ships from a distance, as you see their red tracking beams long before you see the ships themselves. Not only is this incredibly handy when the difficulty picks up, it's a nice looking effect as well. In fact, Gunroar may be Kenta Cho's best looking game yet, a fact not to be understated when discussing someone with such an impressive body of work under their belt. Particle effects fill the screen so completely that, at times, you may briefly become confused as to where on the screen your ship is. Luckily, in my time playing, this never became an issue that effected playability.

There are a large number of control schemes available, including gamepad support. The mode I found worked best for me was the "mouse" control scheme, which basically lets you control the game as you would a first person shooter - the WASD keys control movement and the mouse controls aiming.

If you enjoy shooters at all, and have an OpenGL capable videocard, do yourself a favor and download this game. It's only 5.5mb, so even the slowest dialup can fetch this game with ease. If this is your first Kenta Cho shooter, be warned, you'll probably download the rest immediately after trying Gunroar.

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