07th May2015

‘Tower of Guns’ Review (Xbox One)

by Phil Wheat

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Billed as “a relentless celebration of everything you love about old-school first-person shooters”, Tower of Guns is the kind of FPS experience that old school gamers will instantly recognise. From the get-go its obvious that this title takes its inspiration from classic ID software games such as Doom, Quake et al., and it’s all the better for it! But that’s not all, for developer Joe Mirabello (yes, it’s just ONE man folks!) has managed to craft a game that – despite it often monotonous gameplay – hooks you in even when your frustration level is at an all time high…

Why frustrating? Well Tower of Guns is a one-life game. That’s it. One energy bar and one life, when the bar drains to zero you’re dead and must return to the beginning of the challenge. However its not all bad, the next time you play you can, possibly, be but stronger and better equipped than before, ready to face different level layouts and enemies, – all of which keeps the action fresh and challenging, even if you want to throw the controller as the screen at times!

The mix of stylish – if somewhat simple – graphics, randomised levels and enemies, means the action never stops. This a game for players who like to pick up and play games without too much thought about story, missions etc. (thought to be fair Tower of Guns does have, again randomised, stories to tell), for those players who just want to get hold of the biggest guns imaginable, waste a whole host of enemies in a tidal wave of bullets, battle gigantic bosses, and upgrade abilities and modify gear to make themselves the ultimate firepower force, i.e. players like ME.

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Much like endless runner type games, when you do die in Tower of Guns there’s a real desire to “try again”, to get further than the last time; to complete the game. Which is possible… Especially if you remember those old-school FPS skills – from the days of Quake III Arena – which kept you alive in many a LAN game. Yes, bunny-hopping and strafing are often the name of the day.

Surprisingly, Tower of Guns is as much a bullet-hell shoot ‘em up as it is a first-person shooter. Enemies come at you in the same aggressive, bullet-filled way that many an enemy in Japanese schmup would. Although, and I’m not the first person to comment on this, there are times when running away is as effective as standing and fighting – sometimes the overwhelming amount of guns, bullets etc., can also smother the player. So in these cases it’s sometimes wise to shoot and run, and hope that the ensuing explosion will take out more than one of your enemies.

Thankfully the saving grace of this game is the ability to upgrade your weapon and KEEP that upgrade after you die – well keep most of it, given that weapon upgrades decrease when you are a) hit by the enemy and b) die. But fear not, there are plenty of powerups and currency to collect to aid in getting new weapons; plus experience increases your weapon level too! Of course choosing the right loadout at the very beginning of the game helps as well – get lumbered with a weapon you don’t like and any fun factor the game has is sucked right out. Believe me, I tried all the available weapons and there were one or two that I actually HATED. Yes, hated.

Something of a pick up and play title (once you get the hang of the game it’s not hard to complete in half an hour or so) Tower of Guns is out now, as a digital download, on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

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