I’m having a retro gaming season at the moment, playing all the old classics on a Spectrum emulator. One game I always liked was Commando, the top down shooter where you had to run through various levels aided only by a machine gun and a handful of grenades. I was still really bad at it and barely made it past the bridge, but I enjoyed it all the same. So, imagine my surprise when loaded up Guerrilla Bob to see that it was a Commando-esque, PC top-down run-and-shoot-fest. Wonderful, I thought! But, and there’s always a but; it just didn’t have the staying power.
The story basically involves Bob and an army of armed baddies who seemed to be content with leaping in front of bullets just for the sake of it. There is a kind of story, one that follows Bob going on the rampage after being wrongly accused of something or other and going out to get revenge on his former friend, but you don’t really pay much attention to any of that when the game starts and your left running from the bottom of the screen to the top, killing everything that gets in the way. Sounds like the ingredients for a great game, and it is, on the iOS/Android market where it originated. But, unfortunately, Guerrilla Bob just hasn’t been ported well enough to warrant a decent score for the PC.
The controls are a standard WASD, with mouse direction and button firing modes. But at times, they seemed clunky and unresponsive, Bob didn’t quite do what you expected him to do, and when you mix that with the enemy, who appear to have the ability to fire through solid objects and can outmanoeuver Bob if needed, the game quickly becomes a bit of a drag. The gameplay is broken up from the top down scroller occasionally with the appearance of an end of level baddie, or a level involving being chased by a tank, but it’s not long before you find yourself back in the grind of fighting from point A to point B in a straight line.
Admittedly, Bob does have its moments; the addition of upgraded weapons and extra firing abilities makes killing off the horde of enemies a little more interesting, as do the hidden areas that reveal extra lives and power-ups, but the main problem with the game is its quick finish and relative ease of play. I did get stuck at one point towards the end, but a quick break and a cup of tea soon put me right and I managed to get through without too many problems. I just didn’t feel any sense of achievement upon completion, which is a great shame as I like the idea, and the classic, retro feel of the game.
There are three modes of play: Story, Survival and Mercenary. Story mode is self explanatory; Survival mode pits you against wave upon wave of relentless enemies, hell bent on doing you in; and Mercenary is, for all intents and purposes, the same as the story mode, but with cash rewards for kills that can be used to purchase weapons from a shop in between levels.
Although graphically, the game looks quite nice, it does have its graphical flaws: the occasional enemy that will vanish behind a building and still be able to shoot you; a group of normal baddies that must have the healing powers of Wolverine and can soak up bullets like a sponge; a gap in the enemy lines that you could park a Double Decker bus in, yet for some reason Bob is unable to pass through. Tiny issues, but ones that constantly crop up and spoil an otherwise okay game.
I think the PC gamer of today will enjoy the first few levels of Guerrilla Bob, after that though, the whole thing becomes a repetitive slaughter-fest that will bring on the worst of headaches and ruin a pleasant afternoon. If you can get hold of a demo, by all means have a look, but otherwise I would recommend you steer clear of the PC version and stick to the iOS or Android version.
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