Gunrunner is a tough game to review. It's not that it's particularly difficult. It's not that it's particularly fantastic. And it's certainly not atrocious. But you couldn't really get away with calling it mediocre either.
The storyline behind the game is simple. You (GunRunner) inhabit a planet by the name of Zero. Zero is cold, and its inhabitants protect themselves from the ice-age with nuclear power and a network of reactor-cooling hot pipes over the surface of the planet.
Alien worlds, in this case Destrovia, find the lure of the valuable plutonium that runs along the pipes from reactor to reactor too strong and take it upon themselves to steal some.
Obviously, this is bad news for Zero as the planet will be unable to fight against the ice age and things will become completely frozen and generally go downhill.
Something will have to be done and its you who's gotta do it. The only action to take - of course - is to get out on the planet's surface and annihilate every alien life-form in sight. You'd never have guessed, would you?
The game is essentially a scrolling side-on shoot-out with above-average graphics and a moderate amount of action. The biggest detraction from its appeal is the lack of speed. As you run/fly left and right, the screen moves in little jerks that I'm afraid fall well short of the promised of super-smooth scrolling. Partly because of this, also, the action just isn't very fast. Aliens attack in lethargic waves and you blast back in an equally unenthusiastic manner.
As you progress from left to right, you'll come across a number of useful things. First there is the three-directional blaster which enables you to fire three shots at once at a variety of angles. Then there is poison, which acts like a smart bomb, killing everything on the screen. The jet pack lets you fly around a bit while the shield provides a finite amount of invincibility.
Should you be hit by an alien, one of two things will happen. If you are holding any of the items above, you'll be robbed of them. If you aren't carrying anything, you'll lose a life.
Once the end of a wave is reached, you move on to the bonus section which takes place over a different coloured backdrop and where the sole objective is to wipe out as many aliens as possible for points.
After the bonus you find yourself on the next level (of which there are ten). Colour change here too, and more aliens.
Gunrunner is Hewson's first attempt at a middle-of-the-road shoot-out (Uridium doesn't count) and it doesn't quite work.
While it's lovely to look at, it's got very limited gameplay.
It has to be said though, that there are many inventive and pleasing touches, like the way the colour drains from the signs naming objects, indicating they're nearly used up. By no means a bad game, but nothing of any great excitement.
Author: Christian Urquhart
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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