Well, it has a blow-up doll grenade. Is that loco enough for you, hombre? What if I told you that Gun Loco pits bizarre interstellar criminals based on vinyl figures against each other in mortal combat? And that Square Enix is responsible?
That’s about as crazy as it gets. Having played Gun Loco, a third-person, team-based shooter – at least in the multiplayer demo on display at Square Enix’s Tokyo Game Show booth – it’s clear the aim is to do something outside of the publisher-developer’s norm.
Players can select from a group of eight criminals, all with exaggerated features, some wearing rabbit heads, some with big gold teeth or green afros, some that just look like street thugs. Gun Loco’s cast of scum and villainy is based on figures designed by toy maker Kenny Wong. Sometimes, when you kill an opponent, you’ll see their bodies split into a pile of toy parts.
It’s bloody, but not particularly gory.
The goal in multiplayer is to rack up the longest prison sentence by killing the most enemies. You’ll be rewarded with a longer sentence by killing players that have a big bounty on their heads. That scoring system lends a tactically interesting layer to team deathmatch.
Each character has his own specific load out – one gun, one grenade type. These can be pistols, assault rifles or shotguns that look like kittens. Grenades range from simple fragmentation types to the aforementioned blow-up doll, which inflates quickly and moves towards nearby targets.
Gun Loco is a fast-paced shooter that puts an emphasis on sprinting. By pressing the left bumper, you’ll cruise through the level, hopping over and under obstacles, rolling around corners to keep your momentum moving forward. Objects that the player can hop over or slide under will be highlighted with a blue tint while sprinting, similar to the movement indicators in Mirror’s Edge.
While sprinting, players can perform special moves, like an explosive dive. Also while sprinting, players can tap the A button for a close quarters melee attack. Sometimes this is simply a devastating punch to the testicles from behind. Sometimes it’s a body-shattering kick to the chest.
Occasionally, it’s a button-mashing contest between two players trying to pull off a melee attack simultaneously. During these moments, you’ll have to jam on the left and right triggers while the onscreen action figures grapple hand-to-hand. The victor will snap his opponent in half, then crush his action figure body.
Gun Loco felt early, but potentially promising. It’s loaded with weird charm, but it’s going to need a little more gameplay polish before it starts to feel reliant on that charm. The game’s wild camera can be unsettling while sprinting, especially when rolling around a corner, and its controls might benefit from a more common layout.
The six-versus-six online multiplayer battles were fun to play, in part because my competition served as great target practice. Many of the TGS attendees I played with and against seemed to have a hard time coming to grips with this weird Square Enix game, but at least they were lining up for it, unlike its next door neighbour shooter MindJack.
But Gun Loco was a surprising – some might say crazy – product from Square Enix. Can’t say we’ve gone totally loco for it yet, but we’ll keep an eye on it.