XBLA/PSN Review: Tower of Guns

This is the fewest bullets you should expect to see at any given time.

This is the fewest bullets you should expect to see at any given time.

By: Matthew Striplen

Bullets, bullets and more bullets. That’s the true identity of Terrible Posture Games’ Tower of Guns, which has been released on practically every modern console, including the PlayStation, Xbox and PC. Shoot your way to the top of the tower as your dodge insane amounts of bullets, bombs and every projectile imaginable.

CONTROLS (4.75/5)

Tower of Guns plays like most modern FPS games, though sometimes movement can feel a little slippery. This usually happens once upgrades have been added to augment speed or jumping. That being said, this problem is a minor one and detracts little from the otherwise solid controls.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (2/5)

Although Tower of Guns presents an interesting graphical style, the execution doesn’t quite live up to modern standards. The entire game adheres to a cel-shaded type of theme, but a few technical issues prevent it from reaching its potential. Depending on what platform you’re using greatly alters the player’s experience.

Unfortunately, the PS3 appears to have the greatest number of problems, the biggest being the frame rate. Battles get pretty hectic, which means countless bullets and enemies spawn across the room. Rendering the insanity proves to be too much for the aging PS3’s hardware, reducing the frame rate enough that I can count them.

Environments look rather drab and little color is used, other than for fiery explosions. Also, numerous graphical glitches rear their ugly heads, mainly in the form of flying enemies. Once they spawn, these flyers tend to glitch back and forth for a moment before beginning their attack. Sometimes players will also get stuck on walls, or the walls themselves will flash between black and white, which can be a little frustrating.

The vast majority of the sound is made up of various types of gunfire. Bullets fly with satisfying booms and explosions are equally good. Musically, Tower of Guns doesn’t stand out much, since the melodies serve more of a background role.

GAMEPLAY (3/5)

In a market suffering from FPS oversaturation, it’s nice to play one that challenges established formulas. Tower of Guns tasks the player to battle their way up the tower, collecting experience and other items along the way.

Two aspects makes this experience different than the average FPS, the first of which being that each level is randomly generated. Each floor maintains an overall theme, but the platform and enemy layout changes radically in every playthrough. This ensures a high level of replayability, but it also means the difficulty fluctuate.

The second unique trait is how each playthrough features a distinct character with their own story. These stories don’t add much to the game, but the different character means that upon death, you lose everything. All your money, experience and special items disappear in a flash.

This can be pretty frustrating since there’s no save function, and seeing 30-plus minutes of gameplay go to waste can be disheartening. Plus, the game reminds you how many times you’ve died, just in case you weren’t keeping track.

On the subject of difficulty, Tower of Guns doesn’t pull any punches. Although the first stage eases you in, anything beyond that turns into a serious bullet hell. If you’re not diligent about nabbing collectables, expect to die super fast. Avoiding death remains a hefty challenge, even with lots of power-ups, since the player possesses no defensive capabilities other than dodging. As mentioned above, the frame rate significantly decreases during intense sequences, making gameplay needlessly difficult.

Enemies consist of only a few different types, most of which are oversized cannons shooting cartoonishly huge bullets. The bullets crawl through the air at a snail’s pace, but some weapons travel faster. Other turrets shoot circular saws or spiked balls, which pose a real threat if you’re not ready for them.

Bosses follow the same format as standard enemies. There are a handful of different types, but they get recycled pretty fast. Even the different bosses handle similarly to each other, mostly just blasting out innumerable bullets and minions.

Most bosses drop gun modifications, which greatly enhance your power. Sadly, only one mod can be equipped at a time, meaning the unwanted one has to be left behind. Being able to stack mods, or even being able to switch between them, would have added more depth to the game.

Kiosks are scattered around the tower containing a wide array of items for purchase. Most of these are also occasionally dropped by enemies, but they’re just as useful. They can be anything from an extra jump, a special item/ability, or even something bad. Distinguishing between good and bad power-ups can be a little tricky since their function is not always obvious from their appearance.

Upon defeat, most enemies drop a combination of blue (experience), red (health) and yellow (money) orbs. Although the health and money orbs are quite useful, the implementation of the experience system leaves something to be desired. The only change I could perceive upon leveling up was an increased rate of fire. Plus, the experience caps at level 5, rendering all blue orbs useless from that point on.

The title screen allows players to select their starting gun, a perk and game mode. The starting weapon is pretty pathetic, ensuring gamers will only use it until they get something else. My personal favorite is the Hand Cannon, which fires huge bullets like the enemy cannons.  Perks range from fall damage immunity to tweaking the difficulty. Additional weapons and perks can be unlocked by completing various conditions, the majority of which are not too exciting.

As for game modes, there are Normal, Endless and Dice Roll. Normal has the player struggling to reach the top of the tower and Endless is self explanatory. Dice Roll adds a random effect to each new room, which can be anything from super slow motion to low health. This mode outshines the rest by adding an extra level of intrigue and spontaneity.

The only function conspicuously lacking in this game is multiplayer. This format lends itself perfectly to co-op gameplay. Maybe we’ll get a sequel or some DLC, but for now Tower of Guns remains a solo adventure.

OVERALL (3/5)

Tower of Guns is a quirky take on a well established genre. The randomly generated stages provide tons of new experiences, but they tend to blend together, mostly due to the same enemies appearing in almost every area. White it strives for fast paced, adrenaline pumping action, the bad frame rate completely destroys the player’s sense of control and immersion.

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About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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