Call of Duty...with bricks!
There's a tank bearing down on me from a nearby bridge. Its driver has already wiped out several of my teammates in his destructive rampage, which shows no signs of stopping. Things are looking pretty desperate. Taking cover from the tank's explosive shells, I pull out a rocket launcher, and line up my sights.
Boom. Direct hit. The bridge underneath the vehicle crumbles, and it plummets down into a ravine. I toss a bit of C4 down to seal the deal, detonating the armor in a blast of red-hot flame.
This is Guncraft, and it may well be among the most innovative shooters I've seen in years.
I was incredibly excited when Ace of Spades was first announced. See, I was the sort of kid who always had at least three buckets filled with Lego on the go; the little plastic bricks were always in use. I've lost count of the number of times a brick ended up acting as a caltrop and leaving a spotted indentation in my foot.
Voxel blocks are basically digital Lego.
As I grew older(and moved into residence in University), it started to become less practical to keep Lego around all the time. I began to forget my love of building, to neglect the joy of creation. The Minecraft came along, and voxels took the world by storm. The amount of time I've wasted happily building in that game very likely amounts to days.
It was for that reason that I was extremely excited when Ace of Spades was announced. A voxel-based shooter that allows for fully-destructible terrain? Sign me up!
Unfortunately, it never really managed to deliver on any of its promises. It was a flop. It crashed and burned. Understandably, I was a little distressed. The game which had at first looked so promising ultimately amounted to nothing.
Don't go swimming.
Then Guncraft came along. On the surface, it may not look terribly unique - after all, most of the stuff it features has been done before, right? Isn't it all derivative?
Yeah, most of gaming is. The trick lies not in what Guncraft does, but in how it does it.
A lot of shooters have promised destructible terrain in the past, with varying degrees of success. Usually, what can be destroyed is entirely context-sensitive. You can level a few buildings, maybe create a crater here or there. While you'll occasionally find a game like Red Faction, as a whole, crumbling terrain doesn't really show up all that much.
That's one of the areas in which Guncraft defines itself - though not the chief one. Pretty much everything on a map can be destroyed. Want to get to the other team's flag, but they're guarding the door? Blow a hole in the wall. Need to get rid of a tank? Destroy the ground so it can't drive.
Generally, placing when you're being shot is a bad idea.
Of course, this destruction is counterbalanced by the fact that players are able to construct their own structures - either by placing prefabricated buildings or manually tossing down blocks. Need a bunker where you can take cover? You can do that.
One doesn't realize how much this actually impacts gameplay until they've seen it. The map slowly changes as a game goes on. Players destroy vast swathes of an arena, with player-created structures often popping up at intervals all throughout. It adds a new layer that one doesn't often see.
These arenas feature an array of gametypes which are an interesting blend of traditional 'shooter' matches like deathmatch and capture the flag and more unique gametypes such as meteor survival, which tasks players with surviving what basically amounts to the apocalypse.
I still haven't quite worked out how to use the hookshot.
Where Guncraft really shines, however, is in customization. If the Internet has made one thing clear, it's that people love to create their own stuff. Exato Games is aware of this, too: Guncraft features a fully-functional map editor, complete with the ability to import directly from Minecraft, if you so choose. You can also create your own prefabricated structures to place on the battlefield. Even better, there's a gunsmithing tool coming out in the very near future, which allows players to design their own weaponry. I wouldn't be surprised to see vehicle creation a step behind.
Exato Games has gone all-out with Guncraft. Destructible environments, in-game construction, and map and weapon creation are only the tip of the iceberg here. There's likely a lot more to come - both from the developers and from the community, particularly since it's recently been greenlighted on Steam. This is a title you're going to want to watch, particularly if you've gotten fed up with the drab wave of brown and dun which all too often seems to define the first person shooter.
Okay, I admit it. There was no bridge, I was alone, and the tank killed me.
Check out Exato's website here.