Review by _Zephyre_
"GunZ: Where programming mistakes led to immense popularity"
GunZ: The Duel is a massively multiplayer online third-person shooter produced by a South Korean company called MAIET Entertainment. It is free to play forever, as the company claims, and they gain profit mainly through premium items, like cash items in Maple Story and other games. What sets this game apart from most other shooters is that players are given the ability to defy gravity and the laws of physics in many ways, most notably, I must add, by pulling shotguns out of places where the sun doesn't shine in mid-air after a slash from a sword that seemingly disappears into thin air, all while looking like they're having severe muscle spasms.
Welcome to the world of GunZ, where glitches are almost a necessity and bloated egos grow and burst.
Story - 4/10
There isn't much of a story here, and the same could be said about most massively multiplayer online games out there. In fact, all the story they have is on their official website. It mainly consists the standard slew of a nation fighting another nation, and then there was peace. Not very detailed, and quite boring, actually. Not to mention its horrible grammar, but let's not go there. Oh, and there was something about some event called the Industrial Cataclysm that supposedly brought steam engines into the world and probably led to the steampunk era that the game is set in. There was some mentioning about two continents named Astra and Ilys respectively, though most of the game's emphasis seems to be on Astra. The rest of the game's background canon seems to lie in the descriptions of weapons and equipment.
Graphics - 6/10
The graphics in the game look pretty dated, even when everything is turned up to its maximum. However, the feel and look of the era the game is supposedly set in is carried out pretty well, except for a few exceptions here and there. This game also seems to have some decent dynamic lighting. Some of the maps appear to be heavily inspired by films. So the good thing is, it'll run well on slower machines. The bad thing is, there'll be less eye candy for everyone. Not that you'll notice after your 137th time in the same map, running around dodging bullets and returning fire while looking like you're having a seizure, but we'll get to that later.
You do get to customize your character's appearance, though. During character creation, you'll have 4 hairstyles and 4 faces to choose from for each gender. Not very extensive, but it won't matter once your character is suited up in all sorts of equipment. Even then, characters may still look similar. The hair and clothing in the game have clipping issues, but that's to be expected in any game with flappy objects. One thing that bothers me is that a lot of guns share the same appearance, but not the premium items, thankfully.
Sound - 5/10
You're going to get your standard set of action-themed background music in the game, but it's not a very good one. Meanwhile, just about every type of gun in the game sounds like a peashooter when fired, with the sole exception of the rocket launcher, which sounds like what you would get if you dropped a large, solid rock on some sand. At least they bothered to give unique sounds to each type of surface you move on.
Community - 2/10
A rating for the community is a must for every multiplayer online game. This one gets a horrible score for many reasons. Although the general age for the players appears to be around 13-20 years, most seem to possess the maturity of a kindergarten reject.
Aside from that, something about the game just compels an unhealthy amount of too-competitive behaviour and ego. This is often followed by the clouded belief that their loss has nothing to do with themselves being inferior in terms of skill or just being plain unlucky. Excuses can range from lagging and hacking to using legit but supposedly noobish tactics like hiding, camping and healing. Expect things to turn into massive verbal battles that could drag on to other parts of the Internet, like forums.
The game also has large number of people enjoy insulting people that are using automatic weaponry by calling them sprayers, completely oblivious to what the term originally meant to the community. However, there are a number of people who stand out in the community, though their numbers are slowly fading away by the day.
Gameplay - 9/10
This is what really saves the game. It's all because of one little thing that grew very, very huge, and now is almost a necessity to perform well in the game. Most know it as Korean Style, or K-Style. Developed by players from a localized version of the game for Korea, K-Style was never meant to be in the game in the first place, since it involves exploiting programming mistakes and glitches with swords to cancel out character animations partway through, but was later accepted by the developers itself due to the additional depth it brought to the gameplay. Upon further development, people began to discover ways to use this style to perform very extraordinary things - much more extraordinary than running on walls, such as slashing with a sword while whipping a shotgun out to fire a shot while dashing and changing direction in mid-air. All this involves incredible fingerwork and dexterity that better places have honed as if they were master pianists.
Later on, a new style was created with an emphasis on the usage of daggers. It was named Dagger Style, or D-Style. This style also has its own set of unique moves that can involve glitching in certain ways similar to K-Style, but the popularity of the latter remains unmatched.
In addition to the aforementioned playing styles, you can do things that the game was meant to be played with, like running and jumping on and off walls, diving and rolling(which the game and community now refers to as tumbling), and dashing with a melee weapon in hand. Each weapon class feels and performs differently. A character can equip two ranged weapons(dual-wielded weapons count as one weapon) and one melee weapon at a time, as well as two special items, which range from grenades to recovery items, and a pair of rings which give special boosts. And, as stated above, you can mess around with your character's apparel by purchasing new clothes with the game's currency, which is known as bounty, which is obviously gained by killing things.
You get the typical game modes you'd expect to see in a shooter, along with some interesting additions here and there. One very notable game mode is Quest Mode, which is unavailable in several versions at the time this review was done. In the mode stated above, characters are forced to team up and fight wave after wave of hostile NPCs, which can range from goblins to the gods of Astra themselves. It's only entertaining for the first few rounds or so, then after that, it's only fun with friends or not fun at all. It doesn't have a difficulty balancer for the number of people in the room, so at later levels, a player going solo may easily get overwhelmed.
This game has once been a very popular playground for hackers, and probably still is, actually. Most just turn out to be nuisances but can be avoided. Also, since this game has uses a direct playet-to-player connection system, almost everyone encounters issues with lag, and a player must lead shots ahead of where the player's target is going to score a real hit unless players are playing from places close to each another based on their geographical location.
Learning Curve - 2/10
Sure, the basics are really easy to pick up. But with almost everyone using K-Style or something else these days, a new player has to follow suit or face many horrible deaths at the business ends of swords and shotguns. Of course, a player could have extremely good aim, but then the player will need to be good at leading shots too, due to all the lag.
Overall - 7/10
As I mentioned above, it's the gameplay that really fleshes out the game. If you can get past the lag and the game's issues, along with the general behaviour of the community, it's actually a great game with a lot of potential. It's sad to see most reviewers write this game off as complete, utter crap just because they spent an hour on it and ended up not bothering to delve deeper into hidden facets of its gameplay where it really shines.
...But then again, with very disheartening first impressions, that could be easier said than done.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/16/07, Updated 01/07/13
Game Release: GunZ The Duel (US, 11/29/06)
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