There is a new trend in video games. Companies have realized that people are playing video games together. Imagine that! The N64 and PC have already picked up on this trend with 4 player and internet play respectively. Well, as of late the predominate multi-player games on Playstation included racing, fighting, and sports games. No longer. Now there are many different way to take on a friend including The Unholy War (review in this issue), Future Cop L.A.P.D. (also reviewed) and this new one by Atluus. Trap Gunner is the name and it is a new kind of fighting game that combines strategy and all out shooting for a explosive one on one combat.
The layout is very similar to a fighting game except that it is mission based. There is a evil company, GAIN, with an evil leader and each character has a personal vendetta against it. Believe it or not, GAIN was responsible for killing one of the characters' family. (Can a I get an original story line please?) Anyway, there are 6 playable character to start off with which may not seem like much, but the gameplay in this does not require much diversity in character like a fighting game would. After picking a character you must pass mission after mission defeating other players and solving puzzles here and there until you defeat all of the characters, sub-bosses, and bosses. Then you will win. Defeat the game with everyone and you will get all of the hidden secrets including the ability to play as the bosses.
The way the gameplay is structured combines strategy and action very nicely. Each character is equipped with 3 of six different kinds of traps. Plant the traps in strategic positions to have your opponent explode or fall in a pit or take a taste of poison gas. Beware that your opponent is also laying traps that you can only see when you go into caution mode. Then you can diffuse the traps by hitting the button combination given before the time runs out. Do it wrong and BLAM, the trap detonates. The round or mission ends when someone's life bar expires. Along with the traps each player has a long range attack (usually a gun, but Tico has a butt missile) and a short range kick or punch. Attacking a player when they are trying to diffuse a trap will also set it off.
To aid your quest there are power-ups that appear throughout the game. They include all of the basics, speed, life, and more traps. The only original one is called the Unit. This is a power up that acts like a homing missile following your enemy. It can be really annoying if your enemy gets it though since there is no way to destroy it once it is launched. The only way to get rid of it is to hit your opponent. If they fall the unit breaks and you are safe. The game is designed with a split screen (although it can be disabled) and you really have to watch the other player's movements. One trap detonates on command so unless the other person is near it, it would be silly to just blow it up. Watching is very important and frustrating, since you obviously cannot take your eyes off of your own screen or "kaboom" into a trap you will go.
Simply put, the game is fun for a while but it lacks variety. To compete with all of the other multi-player games it needs more. More character, more traps, different locations (everything looks like a futuristic warehouse), and more options. As it is there is only a mission mode and a VS. mode. With all of the variety in games these days it is hard to stay interested in this game for very long. After defeating Trap Gunner once, it is pretty much the same the second time around. There are no new moves to learn like in a fighting game and the levels are not all that much different using different characters. Still there is nothing on the market exactly like Trap Gunner. It has originality on its side and the concept is really great. I just wish they would have pushed it a little more.
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