Review – Mothergunship
There is something about classic, fast paced FPS games that I just fall in love with. Maybe because the majority of all modern shooters now have excessive mechanics and bloated systems. Games like Wolfenstein and DOOM are great examples of what I mean by classic and fast paced. No ADS, no reloading, no health regeneration, no cover mechanics, just destroy whatever is in your path at breakneck speeds. Mothergunship takes those classic FPS mechanics and marries them with bullet-hell and rogue-like systems to create a never ending onslaught of fun.
Much like the fantastic DOOM remake, Mothergunship doesn’t drag you through much story or exposition. The story that is there is simple enough to give you an objective and to set up its mission structure, but essentially the goal is to destroy the alien mothergunship since you’re, of course, Earth’s last remaining hope. There are ally characters that will give you a rundown of the mechanics and story progression. The Colonel is my favorite because despite being higher rank than you he can be quite daft which leads to some funny moments.
Like mentioned above, the gameplay is the main reason I fell in love with Mothergunship. I already emphasized how much I enjoy the classic FPS mechanics in the game so lets talk about the other systems in place that make the entire package outstanding.
Rogue-like isn’t much of a new concept anymore as a lot of games have adopted this style to really extend the life of the game. There are games that don’t do it well, but much like Flinthook, Mothergunship nails it which definitely adds to its overall longevity. Depending on the mission you’re able to bring along a few items (gun parts) so you can build a weapon right away. Otherwise you only start with your fists. Whatever parts you acquire during the mission get brought back to the base to then use for the next mission. But if you die, you lose everything you brought and acquired. Besides farming for coins or XP, the parts are what makes doing side missions more worthwhile before taking on a boss ship.
Bullet-hell also isn’t much of a new idea, but you don’t see it too often in FPS games, which makes it feel fresh. Typically you will see this style in 2D games like Cuphead, but in Mothergunship you need to worry about what’s on all sides of you instead of just forward and behind. This creates all sorts of chaos as you’ll need to constantly move around or you WILL die. Luckily, with proper planning and buying (or bringing) the proper equipment you’ll be able to keep moving forward destroying whatever lies in your path.
What would a good FPS be without some great weapons to destroy your enemies with? What makes Mothergunship stand out even further is that they don’t just give you a pre-made weapon with a set style. You craft your own boomstick. The guns and mods are pre-determined e.g. a shotgun is a shotgun, a machine gun is a machine gun, a missile launcher is a missile launcher etc. But it’s how you combine them together on one arm and adding mods that create fire mines that makes it so fun to craft.
Your right arm could be holding 3 chainguns with a missile launcher in the middle and a mod that reduces energy consumption. While your left arm will be decked out with a shotgun, flamethrower and a mod that increases fire rate. The combinations are limitless as long as you have the correct attachments. The one caveat however is that the bigger and stronger the weapon the faster it will drain your energy to shoot it. That’s why having a weapon built for fast shooting and crowd control and one for big damage is important. Sure, a gun with 4 heavy rocket launchers can only fire once before you need a recharge, but if you hit all 4 rockets on most enemies it will kill them. The balance can be whatever you want it to be.
Going along with the rogue-like style it of course includes randomly generated levels and enemy placements. While this mostly works well, you do get a bit of deja vu when you enter some very similar levels. Each mission takes place on a ship and you will go through multiple rooms that essentially will be your battle rooms. Once you clear the room you can go into the shop and use any coins you acquired to build more firepower before moving on. There are challenge rooms that will either give you a side objective, like not getting hit for 40 seconds, or rooms that will alter certain aspects. I have had rooms where the floor is lava or rubber causing you to constantly jump. Or enemies will drop upgrades at a higher rate and many more.
Speaking of upgrades, you will be able to upgrade your mech suit in various ways too. During missions you’ll be picking up purple prisms which essentially you’ll use as XP to level up your suit. Once you get a certain amount you’ll be able to use a upgrade core on one of the various upgrades. There is your standard health and energy upgrades but you’ll also be able to upgrade how many times you can jump, punching strength, landing resistance and more. These upgrades are permanent and will stay with you regardless if you die during a mission or not.
The graphics, while not ugly at all, are really nothing special. It strikes right in between simple but still detailed. Up close textures and other effects can be a bit lacking but there really aren’t that many times where you stop and smell the roses. I was able to play on max settings with a i7 2700k and a 2gb GTX 960 and still got fantastic performance and no screen tearing with all the fast aiming and moving. My main issue with the graphics is that levels can look too similar. While the layouts and enemy placement are randomized, you still get very similar looking levels since each one is located within a space ship.
What goes better with giant guns, fast movement and bullet-hell gameplay than a kick ass hard rock soundtrack? Nothing. Nothing fits the theme better then some hard hitting riffs from an electric guitar and Mothergunship nails it perfectly. From the main theme track to boss fights, it’s all adrenaline pumping rock. On top of that the guns all pack an impressive punch, as they should considering the focus on creating ridiculous weaponry. My one issue with the sound design is the voice acting. While I don’t mind at all some humor with my games, there is some dialogue that is very cookie cutter and bland.
I’m probably casting out a fairly wide net here, but if you’re at all interested in bullet-hell, rogue-like, classic FPS and hard rock then you need to pick up Mothergunship. There really isn’t much more to say on the matter because if you don’t pick this up you either don’t like FPS games or you’re making a big mistake.
While it’s not exactly ugly, there isn’t a lot of texture details and levels can look too similar in aesthetics.
Simple, fast paced, in your face and relentless FPS with some really fun weapon building mechanics.
Between the hard rock soundtrack, constant gunfire and explosions everything fits perfectly with the gameplay.
The bullet-hell rogue-like gameplay hooks you into wanting to play more as you slowly get better. The weapon building and action is a blast.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Reviewed on PC.
Mothergunship is available July 17th, 2018 on PC, Xbox One and PS4.
A copy of Mothergunship was provided by the publisher.