Bang! Gunship Elite: what can I say about this game? Basically, if youíre looking for a cool space fighter game thatís fast and fun and has an interesting plot Ė youíre going to want to try something else. Bang! is a pretty terrible game with horrible control, a cheesy plot, and the gameplay is an all around disappointment. The long load times between missions and the slow briefing scenes make the game even less enjoyable. Itís just a bad game that I would never EVER recommend to anyone.
One of my very biggest problems with the Bang! is the controller set up. All of the buttons except for the analog stick can be reassigned, but the stupidity of the default configuration is just too much. The directional pad controls both rolling and targeting, so if you want to do either of those while youíre steering your ship, you need either an amazingly well coordinated left hand, or you need to reach over with your right. That means temporarily giving up your fire button, and other important ones as well, which totally sucks, because you are ALWAYS shooting in this game. Even if you do remap your controls, youíll still be sacrificing 4 functions to the directional pad. It seems the gameís creators favored a simple controller layout over a more complex, Starlancer-like one, and it just didnít work out. Itís frustrating and it takes away from the sense of maneuverability that is a really important part of flight games.
There are other aspects of gameplay that seriously detract from the quality of the game as well. For one thing, it seems like everything concerning the player being attacked was done in the worst possible way. For example, if you are shooting, you canít tell if you are being shot. There is no loud crash noise, there is no shaking cockpit, no graphical representation at all, in fact, except that your weapons flash dimly. If youíre shooting at someone, which you ALWAYS are in this game, your guns will be flashing anyway, so you really really canít tell. Youíll be flying around at top speed, maneuvering without barrel rolling (because you canít reach the D pad), taking people out left and right, and then everything stops and you see an animation of your ship blowing up. They just leave you to wonder what happened until, after an annoyingly long wait, the ďMission FailedĒ screen pops up. Another weird thing, that I think really sucks, is that your ship doesnít have a permanent force shield. It has a shield generator that you can turn on when needed. Unfortunately, since you usually donít know if youíre being gunned down, you have no idea that you need it until your life support goes and you computer tells you so. You canít just leave it on, either, because its life span isnít all that long. Supposedly there are refills that are floating around space and are dropped by some of the enemies you take out, but they are very hard to find. That brings me to another point, which is the radar and targeting system. For whatever reason, your shipís radar tends not to show all the ships that are out there, and is especially fussy about putting up the ships that are behind you. There may be some special trick to reading the radar, but itís still a pain in the ass and makes it even harder to know when your being attacked. The gameís manual says that all of the power up items (more shields, more ammo, etc.) should show up as blue dots on the radar, but in my experience, they donít. I think I found a power up once while playing this game, but when you get close to what ever youíre targeting your ship stops targeting it. I lost it, and to this day, that thing that may have been a power up item is still floating somewhere in the icy reaches of space. There are about a billion other things that piss me off about the way this game plays. Almost every aspect of the game has the same level of badness as what Iíve just finished writing about, so Iím not going to go into all of it. Basically, the whole game is just one big pain in the ass and itís not at all fun to play, ever.
The story behind the game is pretty lame. It didnít inspire me at all the way the stories behind a lot of other good games have. I canít help but compare Bang! to Starlancer, here. Basically, in Bang! youíre just a member of a very warlike people and youíre fighting against another warlike people who want some of the resources that your people control and you have recently made unavailable to them. Thereís nothing cool about that in a flight sim. In Starlancer, you were fighting the forces of evil Ė thatís cool. In other games Iíve played, youíre evil and youíre battling the forces of good Ė thatís cool too. Even some stories where there is no good and evil play involved are still very cool, but Bang!ís story just doesnít cut it. In addition, all of the cinema scenes are long and boring and they freeze and skip way too much. You have to deal with this crap before EVERY new mission you fly. It doesnít make that much of a difference, because the game sucks anyway, but it would have been nice if you could at least enjoy a decent story line.
In all honesty, I feel really bad for the people who put time into making this game. It was a complete waste of their life. I feel even worse for who ever had to beta test this game, which I would consider to be cruel and unusual punishment. Donít buy this game. Maybe rent it, give it a try, but it sucks, so you probably wonít have any fun playing it.
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