Monday, 12 August 2013

Review: Guns of Icarus Online (PC)
A little late to the party here but I am glad I made it personally because the Guns of Icarus ring true.  Now if you have ever looked at this game on steam before and noticed that 64/100 metacritic score, ignore it.  The game easily deserves an extra 20 points on it's meta score since the reviews where written during the games beta. the setting is a steampunk world where the major weapons of war are massive airships of varying size and shape, armed with numerous weapons.  And it is on these giant ships that you play as part of a daring four man crew looking for glory, adventure and sweet kills in the skies.  Players form a crew of four from three main professions, pilot who obviously controls the ship, engineer who repairs the ship and gunner who mans the guns.  Now any of these professions can do any job aboard vessel, but it's when you have a tight knit unit working in sync that the game really comes alive.

Pilots can equip items that may increase the ships speed, resilience, manoeuvrability and be able to dump black smoke behind them amongst other abilities.  The pilots are probably the most important element of any match since they have the most difficult job to perform, but ultimately the most rewarding when you see an enemy ship crumble and fall.  It's right to say that pilots are definitely for the more advanced player, but as a pilot you get to build the ship and name it of course.

Gunners bring a much more varied selection of ammunition types with them giving them far more tactical choices when engaging foes at differing ranges.  They can also perform basic repairs if needed, but they need to be constantly jumping from gun to gun.

Engineers have a lot on their plate but if your pilot and gunner are working well enough the load isn't quite so heavy.  Engineers can rapidly repair broken ship systems while also being able to buff them and man guns when the ship isn't so badly damaged.  Every ship should bring at least two engineers to cover repairs as combat heats up. come in all sizes from short range flamethrowers and Gatling guns to medium ranged mortars and flechette throwers all the way to rocket launchers and heavy flak guns with many more in each range category.  The weapons are each influenced by the movement of your ship and wind direction to accurately score hits.  But shooting isn't just about blasting away at a health bar until it reaches zero, although this is possible, you will want to cripple your foe first by targeting the engines, weapons or balloon to weaken them before letting rip.  Since the opposing crew will be trying to do the same to you matches can become games of cat and mouse as you each make strafing runs, broadsides or sneak attacks on each other, all the while repairing and scouting for the enemy position.

Guns of Icarus Online is a wholly team focused affair so communication is key to success between your fellow crew and your fellow airship captains.  Since the game can allow 2v2, 3v3 or 4v4 combat scenarios, things can quickly become hectic.  Guns does have voice chat for you and your crew,along with captains chat which is defaulted to C.  Captains chat is used between ship captains to better coordinate movement amongst the chaos.  Obviously more professional teams will use programs like Teamspeak for tactics and seeing these teams work is both frightening and awesome at the same time, when two or three ships suddenly become a single unit through comms.  Still the game isn't impenetrable for solo players as there are plenty of games running with random groups of all sizes, with numerous rookie games on the go.  You can even find yourself a tutor in game to help you via the social tab from the main menu. Guns of Icarus Online is pretty.  It nails the steampunk/dieselpunk aesthetic well giving the game a sort of believable quality.  The film grain effect which isn't too intrusive makes the battles look like film reels from the 20's or 30's while the character models sport clothing of that era.  Obviously the game isn't going for a visual quality that surpasses the big AAA titles, but it still looks pretty damn good.  The ships themselves each bring a sort of character with them.  The Junker looks much like it's namesake with wooden boards spanning gaps between parts of the ship, while the metalwork looks old and slightly rusted.  The newly added Mobula for instance looks much more regal and impressive, with a large white balloon and stylish metalwork all gleaming and new.

The maps looks stunning with each bringing it's own tactics and approaches, each being set in a naturally beautiful locale.  Wreckage of giant airships litter some of these maps and can't help but make you wonder if developer Musegames will ever allow us to crew even larger vessels in a new mode.

The sound work is great with the creaking of the ships hull as it reacts lazily to your inputs, cannon fire, clanging of tools as they inexplicably repair engines by simply bashing them.  It all adds to the immersion.  The music adds to the experience all the more, with rhythmic drumbeats keeping pace as you frantically keep your ship afloat while returning fire.

Overall Guns of Icarus online allows you to finally play out those sky pirate fantasy's that other games have shown you but never allowed you play.  There is no other game out there that gives you as unique an experience as this.  Get three friends and let the fun begin, and what's even better is that between now and August 18th 2013 the game is on sale for £5.09 down from it's normal price of £14.99.  Get it because Musegames deserve the money and your support.  The community is active, the gameplay is great and it's price is a steal.

SCORE: 8.4/10


Mac said...

this is a good review, but it contains piece of misinformation. There IS voice chat between ships, but only the ships commander can use it, by pressing C on default settings. It is colloquially called "captain's chat"

Thadius Cole said...

Wow thanks for that Mac, edit has been made there and again thanks.

Jrt said...

The ship isn't called mobulus, it's mobula :D

Thadius Cole said...

Ah very well spotted there Jrt, fixed now :) Thanks for the correction and for reading of course.

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