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One of the most endearing and long-time played MMOs out there is the Softnyx developed, turn-based shooter, GunBound. It’s a casual collaboration between cash-shop motivated microtransactions and the fan-favorite, turn-based gameplay of the classic Team17 strategy game, Worms. For anyone who was wondering, the game is a very nifty venture into MMO territory that’s rarely ever explored and hardly ever exploited. And for the game to be as old as it is, the age doesn’t show through. Instead, gamers will find a very well designed, evenly balanced, turn-based action title that’s rarely ever seen in the world of massive multiplayer online games.
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Remember that old PC classic known as the Mother of all action games? Yeah, it was called Scorched Earth. This game kicked major butt and preceded the popularity of Team17’s Worms, at the time. Softnyx’ Gunbound firstly pays homage to Scorched Earth by allowing players to pick from various tank-vehicles, but like Worms, there’s an option to upgrade and customize the avatar in the tank as well.
Much like Worms or Scorched Earth, players can purchase skills and items for their avatar/tank that range from nuclear bombs, digger missiles, health-stealing rounds and more. There are some pretty cool options to choose from for upgrading the tank but at the expense of in-game gold being useless. Yes, the only way to purchase many of the unique items available is for players to do so with cash-shop currency, which is kind of a bummer for some casual players.
When it comes to the gameplay concept, to mix things up from other turn-based tank games, GunBound sports dynamic stage hazards that vary from time to time, much like One Must Fall 2097, including mirrored walls that reflect all kinds of projectiles, heat rays, satellite lasers and more. It's excellent for throwing a wrench in the game of a precision crack-shot or giving a newbie a chance to win in a lop-sided match.
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Graphics And Sound
Considering that this is a turn-based casual game, you really can’t go into GunBound expecting some kind of advanced, HDR-sporting 3D game like T.E.R.A. Online or Blade & Soul Online. GunBound is not like that at all. Instead, the game has easy-on-the-eyes visual effects and sprite designs similar to maybe Castle Crashers or Braid. For what’s worth I think GunBound works on its own graphical terms and works well. Explosions, poisonous gas and the like all have visually effective results and help immerse gamers in the intense, turn-based action.
The backdrops, on the other hand, probably could have been done better. It has nothing to do with the quality of their design but more-so with the variety. Much of it looks the same given a rather limited palette of sorts and it comes off as passé and often times repetitive.
Audibly, GunBound features sound effects one might expect to hear in a game like this. There’s nothing to knock in that regard but I do have a few bones to pick with the soundtrack. While I know the game is all about maintaining a feel of casual play for non-hardcore gamers and a family-friendly feel to the overall scope and aesthetic of the game, but did they really have to go so far as to include some sleepy-time baby music? Seriously? The music is composed nicely but it’s entirely unmotivated to the cause of destroying a handful of other players in cutesy but deadly tanks. Most of the soundtrack is composed of lullaby-esque tunes. As I mentioned, they aren’t bad but if you’re feeling bored and a little tired the music in this game won’t help absolve that problem.
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I'd imagine that it would be tough for developers to mess up a game where players spend their time gauging the required trajectory of a shot to blow the living crap out of their opponents. With that said, GunBound’s gameplay is solid all the way through. Players have limited moving points per turn to position their tank and fire at an opponent. Special skills can also be utilized per turn and if players take too long it skips over to the next player.
The team deathmatch modes are pretty good and it’s easy to find a game to join. The only downside is that matches last for a while and if a player leaves a match it’s kind of tough to win a match without them.
I suppose the main point is that the game is just generally fun but with nothing noteworthy about the experience. If a free version of Worms is what you’re looking for with a decent online component then that’s exactly what’s to be found in GunBound. The gameplay is completely standard-fare for the kind of game that it is and that makes the game a respectable, but at the same time, completely unremarkable experience.
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As mentioned in the previous section, many of the maps have a similar look and feel. They’re usually just a long strip of destructible material that ranges from bridges to grass hills but offer little in the way of originality.
One of the highlights of games like Worms (i.e., especially after Worms Armageddon) there were a variety of maps that were as crazy and wacky as they were subtle and normal. Worms had a mix of foamy looking cheese stages, moon craters and even castle moats. In GunBound many of the maps are just long catwalks of mushroom style platforms.
The game really could have used multi-tiered maps and maybe a few more original themes and scenarios. Nevertheless, what maps are present are enjoyable enough to suit the taste of most casual gamers. With that said, despite the bland collection of maps to play on, I doubt many gamers would find much fault with them.
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Anyone who enjoys turn-based bouts and has grown tired of first-person shooters like Alliance of Valiant Arms or Soldier Front can find a measure of easy-going gameplay in the free-to-play, casually fun, GunBound. Despite many of the maps having the design of a tepid teenager who was afraid to "step outside the box", much of what's present in the game is quite enjoyable.
And maybe with a few more updates, more weapon upgrades and some improved map designs the game could garner a perfect five out of five. But for the time being, GunBound will only find its crowd among gamers who don’t mind turn-based, easy-going action.