Although you wouldn't guess it from the genre, or even the name, Gatling Gears is the follow-up to last year's successful downloadable title, Greed Corp. But while Greed Corp. was a methodical turn-based strategy game, Gatling Gears is a non-stop action twin-stick shooter - quite the departure.
Indeed, if you didn't recognise the steampunk art style, you'd probably think they were completely different games - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Greed Corp. was quite a niche title, but Gatling Gears gives Vanguard Entertainment, the developer, a chance to really open the franchise up to a much broader audience.
Not a great deal is currently known about the story, aside from the fact you play as a guy named Max Brawley, who wants to take down The Empire. But gameplay is what Gatling Gears is all about, and it's rather addictive.
You'll use the left analog stick to walk around, while using the right analog stick to focus your basic weapon. You can easily change your targets, and the Gatling Gun is pretty decent for taking down the majority of the foes in the game. You will also gain access to some higher powered weaponry though, in the form of a burst beam cannon and grenades. They have finite ammo supplies, but thankfully they regenerate over time, so you don't have to worry too much about resource management. It's a good thing too, as far too often in games you'll be worried about using your special moves, if only for fear of not knowing when you'll receive a pick-up next.
The laser cannon was controlled directly with the right analog stick - it was just a supplementary weapon. The grenades however, required a bit more thought. You have to manually aim where you want it to land using the right analog stick, which can be a bit awkward considering you're already holding it down to fire your main weapon. You also have to try and factor in that it needs to be fired, so it won't explode instantly.
Aside from being riddled with enemy fire, Gatling Gears also featured some rather awesome boss battles. They are deceptive in their length, as each boss has multiple stages that you must defeat - just when you think you've finally won, it will crank out another form. We managed to square off against two bosses, both of which altered their tactics somewhat to deal with us. Many of their attacks focus directly at you, so you can't just sit in a corner and kill the bosses cheaply. You need to constantly be on the move.
It's also worth pointing out that the game will give you lots of Gears to pick up, which will determine your score at the end of each level. For every Gear you pick up, your score multiplier will increase, but if you get hit, the multiplayer resets. It's going to be a horrifying element for replay value, as there will be countless gamers who try to do perfect runs.
There's also going to be drop-in/drop-out co-op, which sweetens the deal a bit. The game is fun to play solo, but playing with someone else just ramps things up a bit. Not only are you directly competing against them for score, but it means there's far more action happening on screen - and not everything is being focussed directly at you.
Gatling Gears is due out for release in Q2 of 2011 and it'll be releasing on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and PC.