More like Funcraft, amirite?!
It is not difficult to imagine that Guncraft was the result of developer Exato Game Studios attempting to combine the most successful elements of the most popular games in today’s market. Uniting the biggest selling points of Minecraft and Call of Duty, Guncraft is derivative, yes, but that does little to detract from the fact that it is heaps of fun, despite it having a few problems.
Those who picked up Jagex Game Studios’ Ace of Spaces earlier this year will know that pairing Minecraft’s creation tools with the run-‘n’-gun action of an FPS doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Ace of Spades simply gave players a gun and some blocks but failed to give any purpose for the latter, other than for making impromptu forts during the heat of battle that would swiftly be destroyed by enemy explosives. On the other hand, Guncraft’s implementation of its creation tools is far deeper, allowing players to create custom levels, skins, and guns.
Creating a custom level in Guncraft is simple but addictive, and what you can create is limited only by your imagination. The best custom levels are then approved by the game’s developers and will join the developers’ own creations in the official maps line-up. At the time of this writing, there are over 60 playable maps, including a blocky recreation of the battle on Hoth from Empire Strikes Back, an absurdly large mountain, and a football stadium. All of these environments are fully destructible, and each landscape will often change dramatically throughout each battle as grenades are thrown and rockets are launched.
This brings me to my first point of contention—gunsmithing. Being given the tools to create your own gun from scratch is a novel idea, but employing these weapons in a multiplayer match can have a detrimental effect on gameplay. My first creation, the aptly titled ‘Silly Gun,' fires five explosive bullets at a time. These bullets can tear apart an entire arena in minutes, and I found myself rendering the game virtually unplayable when using it. The game would lag as it tried to render the huge explosions, players would be forced to disconnect. While it felt awesome to deal out such an obscene of damage, it wasn’t as much fun for my teammates and opponents, who were forced to spend the majority of the match traversing across the gaping holes I had carved into the terrain rather than focusing on their objective.
However, aside from this complaint, Guncraft’s creation tools largely work harmoniously in conjunction with its core gameplay. Players can freely toggle between build mode and shooting mode throughout each match, and though placing down blocks may not be the smartest move in a game of Team Deathmatch, Guncraft’s wide variety of game types ensures that there’s a place for those who prefer crafting over gunning. Siege mode, for example, pits two teams against each other as they attempt to build a large trebuchet. Lava survival is a free-for-all battle over a steadily rising sea of lava, which is best avoided by building your way towards the sky. Onslaught mode is the de facto horde mode, and the creation of things such as turrets and scalable towers will provide you with some respite amidst the oncoming waves of enemies.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing the game’s servers are underpopulated, with only the Deathmatch game types being shown any love. This is a crying shame, because Guncraft excels the most when it detaches itself from its influences. The curiously titled Spleef mode is a prime example of this, arming players with nothing more than a pick-axe, then tasking them with knocking the ground from underneath their enemies. It’s hilarious, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone interested in playing it.
That isn’t to say that its gunplay isn’t compelling, though, because underneath its voxel graphics lies a more than competent shooter. Guncraft features several different fully customizable classes (along with the opportunity to create your own from scratch) and an abundance of weaponry and gadgets, including ‘multi kill perks’ ripped straight from CoD that allow you to spawn helicopters, take control of jetpacks, and kit yourself out with a heavily armoured suit. Combat is simple and doesn’t exactly promote strategy, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find many other FPSs on the market today that are so unashamedly fun. There are some balancing issues, yes, but to focus on them defies the point of the game. Guncraft doesn’t want you to put emphasis on the result of each match, but rather your journey getting to that result, so while it isn’t going to appeal to players of a more competitive disposition, it certainly has a lot to offer for those who simply want to have a good time.
Exato Game Studios are so brazen about Guncraft’s influences that you could initially be forgiven for thinking that it is yet another Minecraft clone, trying to ride on the coattails of Mojang’s success while bringing very little to the table itself. However, I was happy to discover that Guncraft is much more than that, and it deserves to have far more people playing it than it currently has.