Guns Up! adds itself to the throng of free-to-play titles that currently populate the PSN store but should certainly not be overlooked. Although blighted by a strong element of grinding, Guns Up! is a highly addictive title that’s only bolstered by the non-existent price tag.
Meet The Squad
Guns Up! revolves around two simple things, defending and attacking. Attacking involves waves of troops (gunners, grenadiers ect.) attempting to destroy the enemy’s HQ while defending the convoy truck they’re spawned from. The tactical element derives from the limited in-game currency, munitions, which are used for essentially everything. The defending side of things involves building a base with walls, bunkers and turrets to protect your own HQ from attack.
This dual approach brings two distinct experiences that marry together fantastically well. Attacking takes some serious tactics and patience; you’ll be invading other human-player bases so the layout is nearly always different requiring a varied array of troops each time. Defending your base camp is constantly on your mind, every so often NPC’s will attack your base with increasingly difficult waves, as will human players, meaning your defenses always need to be up to scratch unless you fancy facing a humiliating defeat.
Building your base also requires munitions, which is gleaned mostly from successful attacks, meaning one cannot exist without the other. This leaves you in a gloriously addictive spiral of attacking, bolstering defenses and attacking again. It’s a clever formula and gives Guns Up! a strong structure and a huge amount replay value. At first all the challenges and structures will seem daunting, it feels like there’s heaps to learn, but the game’s tutorial will expose you to all you need to know, equipping you more than adequately enough to remove any previous doubts.
Something Guns Up! doesn’t equip you for, however, is a severe lack of munitions. Being free to play, it goes without saying that it’s laced with micro-transactions but Guns Up! often leaves you with little option but to contemplate digging into your pockets for your hard earned wonga. Munitions are needed for nearly all elements of progression, but are in seemingly low supply once you pass around Level 15 with items often reaching the hundreds of thousands. To put this into perspective, you can glean around 5-10,000 munitions per attack and that’s only if you do exceedingly well. This, then, means you have to either endure the grind for several hours or fork out. Oh, and by grind we mean 20 attacks back to back, minimum.
It somewhat dilutes the experience and comes just when you’re starting to really feel the bite of addiction. Your base is starting to really hold its own and you’ve developed some strong tactics for your attacks – it’s like the game can feel you enjoying yourself so sheepishly edges the micro-transactions in your direction, knowing full well you’re going to strongly debate them.
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There’s another currency simply called gold. While also obtainable through gameplay, it’s also offered in micro-transactions, but fortunately is only used for renting higher-level units you’re yet to recruit or for cosmetic decorations for your base. So, unlike munitions, you can technically give gold a complete bypass if you don’t mind your base not featuring a cute flamingo mascot. This is how munitions should also have been handled; instead they’re a core element blocked behind either excessive hours of gameplay or real-world currency.
Deep Pockets Encouraged
It’s a real shame that the experience is overshadowed by the constant desire to splash unnecessary cash, as the core game is actually really great. Everything has an element of progression to it, you’re always in a position to move forward and boost the abilities of your base and units. A clever perk and ability card system adds variety to attacks, offering weapons and abilities like napalm bombs, tear gas and decoys that can really turn the tide of a battle while perks boost the stats of your units. These cards are often post-attack rewards but can also be gained from card packs that, you guessed it, can be bought from the PSN store. Much like the gold, Guns Up! drops enough of these to get you by but dropping some cash would undoubtedly give you the edge.
Guns Up! is devilishly addictive and provides a seriously fun formula of mutually beneficial attack and defence tactics. It’s initially intimidating economy only works to give the game depth once you’ve completed the enlightening tutorial, leaving you with a constant desire to progress and improve both your settlement and your garrison of units. All the above is unsettlingly blighted by an ever-present need to fork out real cash or face the reality of dampening the enjoyment by grinding for hours. It’s a necessary evil in the free-to-play genre that’s simply too overbearing here to fully accept or ignore.
Guns Up! reviewed from free PSN download. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.