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MOTHERGUNSHIP Review

Mothergunship is what would happen if Doom and Borderlands got together and raised Robocraft’s baby. It’s a fast-paced, heavy-metal, bullet-hell FPS, with lots of humor and a fun gun crafting system that’s great when it works in your favor, but can be frustrating when the random gods give you lemon parts.

Traditional Shooter…

At its core, Mothergunship is simple to pick up and play if you’ve ever played another FPS, but it’s definitely not simple to master. You move with WASD, aim with the mouse, jump with space, and fire your left and right-hand weapons with the left and right mouse buttons. (Key bindings were not customizable in the build I played, but should be on release.) Controllers are also supported and feel surprisingly smooth without any sensitivity adjustments.

After a short tutorial, you’ll find yourself in a hub area where you can select from a handful of missions.  There will be one story mission available, and about three side missions that reward things like extra experience or coins. Depending on the mission, you have a certain amount of gun parts that you can select to bring along so you can build a gun at the start of the mission.

Each level is made up of a series of rooms connected by a small corridor where you can take a quick breather that you absolutely need after surviving the insanity that’s thrown at you in each room. Generally, you enter a room and kill everything that comes at you, which is usually a whole lot of things.  Some rooms allow you to run to the exit at any time, but some exits only unlock after you kill everything. Upon death (or destruction, since they’re all robotic?) enemies drop XP crystals, health restoration, increases to max health, max energy, or max amount of jumps, and coins that can be used to buy new weapon parts in the store.

… With a Twist

The real draw of Mothergunship and the reason it stands out from being just another shooteris the gun crafting system. There are three different types of parts you’ll collect throughout the game: barrels (which determine what the gun is going to shoot — including but not limited to machine guns, flamethrowers, saw-blade launchers, and various grenades and rockets), caps (which add different effects like ricochet and increased fire rate), and connectors (which hold all of the parts together).

Most missions allow you to select a certain amount of parts to bring, while some start you with a predetermined selection of parts. Either way, every level starts with a console where you can start building. Each part (except for connectors) has an energy level requirement per shot and you get a regenerating energy bar for each hand. The more parts you add and the more powerful the gun, the quicker your energy will drain. There is some tactical thought required to build the perfect gun with a balance of killing power and energy drain, so you’re not left running in circles after every shot waiting for your energy to recharge. This can sometimes hamper creativity, as you’ll quickly learn that certain combinations are much more effective than others, and you might find yourself relying on the same old build every mission rather than experimenting.

It’s good and bad that guns you create don’t carry over between missions. Stores pop up randomly during missions, and also have a randomized selection of items. You might have some runs where either you get no drops of coins to use to buy parts, or the shop doesn’t offer you any parts that have a good synergy with the parts you brought. It does force you to try new things, but can also lead to a lot of failures when the only gun you can build just isn’t good enough to tackle the enemies that are thrown at you, no matter how well you play.

The XP crystals you collect, along with rewards for completing missions, allow you to level up and every level gives you a point to spend on permanent upgrades like increasing max health and energy, energy recharge rate, environmental resistance, and more. So even if you’re failing a mission repeatedly, you’re still earning some XP and maybe it’s just enough to level up and add another point to max health to get you past that point where you’re stuck. It’s also nice that these points can be added or removed from a specific stat any time (from the hub between missions), allowing you to change your build as you go.

A Tale As Old As Time

There’s a lot of good humor in a story that’s pretty basic, until a cool little twist at the end. But who’s playing this for the story, right? Well, this is kind of where the game’s biggest fault starts. Once the story is over (which will be after just a few hours), there’s not much to do except play missions to earn better parts to build better guns to earn better parts… it’s a familiar grind that’s expected, but some people might tire of it sooner than others. The shooting and crafting are both lots of fun for a short time, but it doesn’t hold up when you do it over and over and over. So yes, while this part is what the game is really all about and the story is just there to get you familiar with the mechanics, it gets repetitive a little sooner than it should.

Just Get On With the Killing

There’s not much to say about the presentation — the game really wants you to get right into the cycle of build, kill, build and doesn’t waste time with cutscenes. The music is fast and furious and sets the mood right from the title screen. The graphics are very nice and what you expect from the Unreal Engine, but at the same time they also look exactly like what you expect from the Unreal Engine. The environments fall a little too close to stock and generic. Every level is a different random combination of the same floors, ramps, and jump pads. The action is usually moving so fast that you probably won’t notice, but there isn’t much reason to stop and enjoy the view.

7

The Verdict

In a game that’s all about excess — bigger guns, overwhelming enemies, and a nonstop hail of bullets — moderation is really the key to enjoying Mothergunship. It’s huge fun for short sessions, but after you spend some time with it there’s not enough variety to keep you engaged for hours at a time. Luckily, the development team is very active and engaged with the community, and seems to have plans to support the game with new content past release, including a co-op mode scheduled for some time in August.  Even with a few minor issues, there’s still a lot of value for the price, and a lot of fun to be had.

Brad Huffmanparent
Written by
August 07, 2018
Published in FPS

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Brad has loved gaming since he first picked up an Atari joystick in the late 70s, a fact that makes him feel really old right now.   He recently graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a BS in Game Design and Development /Interactive Storytelling.  He’s the co-founder / editor / writer of an indie comic studio, and is also working as a writer on an upcoming indie MMORPG. It’s probably easier to list the types of games he doesn’t play (RTS and sports) rather than the ones he does, although he wouldn’t turn away any game that you put in front of him.  He likes to think that even the worst games have some redeeming quality, and finds it a challenge to dig in and discover what aspect the developers thought would be fun and try to figure out what went wrong.

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