Take the “run” out of “run and gun” and replace it with “a gigantic tank armed with lasers, cannons, and chain guns,” and you pretty much got Gigantic Army. Yup, that’s right; it’s a gigantic-tank-armed-with-lasers-cannons-and-chain-guns… and gun type of game. Is it worth the attention of grizzled bullet hell veterans or are players better off just sticking to the classics?
Right from the get-go, Gigantic Army is a very old-school style action game. The menu options are simple and starting a new game presents players with a screen to pick one main weapon and one secondary special weapon (Gradius, anyone?). Once your arsenal is selected, it’s time to jump headfirst into battle… and, oh boy, what a battle it is. Players take control of a gigantic walking tank mech blasting away at other tanks, cannons, and gigantic warships. The game very distinctly feels like it’s been ripped straight from the 16-bit era with its gameplay, but not in a complimentary way. Stages are dull and brown and simply utilize muddy brown and green colors for the tonal palette.
The tank itself is rather boring to pilot as well, moving at an aggravatingly slow pace with an awkward rotating control for aiming. If you’ve ever played Metal Slug, then think exactly the way the titular tanks of those games control. Much unlike Metal Slug and other action games of that ilk, gameplay moves ploddingly along. Despite an entire barrage of bullets covering the screen, maneurvering across the screen is difficult given the tank’s speed and sense of weight. For run-and-gun games such as Gigantic Army, it really is to its advantage to feel as good and smooth as possible, even if the avatar is a gigantic green lumbering mech. While I understand it’s not necessary for every game like this to be ramped up to turbo speed to be enjoyable, there still is a need for a feeling of grace and ease of control to help.
Enemies take quite a few shots before going down, and even then, they too respond with quite a few shots of their own. Fortunately, this is not a one-hit kill game, and players will have a lengthy health bar to manage if they want to stay alive. Instead of encouraging a sense of urgency, it only serves to make players feel like that much more of bullet soaking sponge.
Much like the different array of mech games out on the market, it’s taxing pace may be fully intended for fans of mechs and mech technology, openly accepting that half the challenge of operating a mech is actually operating the damn mech. But for casual action fans and fans of the more fast paced shmups and run-and-guns, Gigantic Army runs the risk of just feeling too much like a battle with their mech than the enemies on screen.
It’s too bad that the game feels a tad awkward to operate too, as there are some pretty cool weapons in the game ranging from curtains of wayward missiles to a blinding laser blast. When you do get the hang of it, it can feel quite powerful to be piloting such a piece of machinery, but with that comes the tradeoff of suddenly feeling useless against a wave of half a dozen enemies and their own curtains of bullets. So ultimately, if you’re looking for another game to bring you one step closer to that futurist dream of one day piloting a Gundam or Metal Gear, then Gigantic Army will help fulfill that urge as well as scratch a retro itch. For other players, the game itself just feels a little too hard to penetrate to get to love what’s actually at its corel; very much like, well, a tank.
[+Hearkens back to the style of retro shooters] [+Good selection of weapons makes players feel powerful] [+Great for fans of mechs looking for mech games] [-Somewhat hard to control] [-Feels way slower than it should] [-Frustratingly overwhelming]