Gun Commando is a first person shooter from Ripstone Ltd, which is behind titles like Fly Hunter, Big Sky Infinity and Cosmic Clean-UP etc. Featuring pixelated graphics, incessant alien waves and simple gameplay, the game should have been able to offer a new playing experience of pure shooting joy, if it were not frustratingly hamstrung by unwieldy touch controls and inopportune background music. With no special add-ons, the game feels more like a backslide from the height of modern shooters like House of the Dead Overkill: The Lost Reels, Enemy Strike and more.
The game definitely wants to bait nostalgic shooting game fans with its pixelated graphics, but this turns out to be nothing but an embarrassing failure. Trust me, you won’t want to go any further once you see the barginbasement visual background, especially when there are many other available shooters promising you superb shooting experiences. The developer should have weighed in on its visual design with great care before rushing such a cut-rate shooter to mobile devices, as 3D visuals are winning more and more players to its side with realistic backdrop complimented by believable (if not enthralling) stories. Mentioning backdrop, Gun Commando really does not have much to recommend itself. You are told that the aliens are doing damage to the city. What? Aliens again? You cannot help feeling nauseous at this trite trope. Even if you can forgive this threadbare premise, when you set your feet in the so-called city, you will surely be disappointed, because what meets your eyes has nothing in common with a decimated city. You see brand new buses, walls as if freshly painted and dimly lighted underground lanes, making you prone to think if the place is really a damaged city or a perfunctory mixture of a dungeon and a parking lot. What makes the game look cheaper is that nothing actually happens even when you intentionally fire at rare-to-find windows.
On the upside, the game seems to blaze a new way to implement touch controls, but judging from the actual playing experience, it is still far from satisfying. Unlike previous mobile shooter entries, Gun Commando does not burden you with on-screen buttons, which does give you some sense of flexibility, but unfortunately new problems come along with this feature. Touching anyplace on the left side of screen enables you to move in any direction as you wish; tapping any part of the right side of screen allows you to aim your reticle as need be; and you may change your viewpoint by sliding the screen horizontally. Easy as it may sound, the control does not click in fact. The ambiguity of position often leads to messy situations. For example, When you want to head for a cover, you tap and drag a point on the left screen, then strangely you find yourself struggling to adjust to the right perspective. More often than not, aliens may spot you out and start to attack you before you get out of the panic, so you will either find the game over or your health greatly drained at the end of this ruckus. Aside from that, taking aim can be tricky too, because the tiny aiming reticle is despairingly unresponsive. Oftentimes the case is when you are scrambling to line up a shot, the aliens have got you already. Ironically, when you lower the sensitivity option, the situation surprisingly takes a turn for the better, but it shall never be able to meet your wish. Fortunately, collectible health packs and creates and heroic cups brighten your perilous and tricky journeys a little.
Perhaps you have noticed possibilities to choose among several missions or several modes, as in Enemy Strike. Your knowledge will only bring you additional pain when you see that you have to do the battle once and again before proceeding to next shooting scenario. Replaying is painful because you can predict exactly where you will meet the enemies but still may fail to take them down due to the problematic control. This makes it hard for you to go deep into the game in a short time, but when you do manage to get through several levels, you may gradually get the hang of the control and find some surprises. Gun upgrades is an example. Powerful guns are not available in the shop (there is no shop at all in the game), nor can you grab them from dead enemies. You get a better one if you take down a large number of enemies consecutively. As many as 24 levels of alien slaughter of varying difficulty should be enough to satisfy your shooting mania, and epic boss fights may present a good platform to show off your shooting (or slaughtering) skills.
In addition, the background music also feels a little out of place, considering the tense atmosphere for shooting. You want to hear something heart-pounding, fast and strong, rather than the same bouncy dancy piece.
Gun Commando is an incompetent shooter that has unwisely and awkwardly messed around with old-school pixel aesthetics and fluffs at button-free control, but 24 levels and endless automatic weapon upgrades give the game a decent sense of depth and scale.