Review by Yoh_of_Izumo

"It is Free and Somewhat Fun but also Rather Bad"

I have been versed in the aspects of the shooters ranging from the classic first person shooters of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 to the third person shooters. I have also gotten my hands dirtied with epic PC shooter games such as Half-Life and FEAR. The only difference between those games and Gunz the Duel, is that Gunz the Duel is totally free. Anyone who wants to try their hands at shooting people, or better yet, cutting people up with swords, is free to enjoy a quite complete game for absolutely zero pocket money. Of course, a person needs access to high-speed internet to get the most joy out of playing this game, but nowadays with high-speed internet becoming more accessible, faster, and cheaper, more people have access to better possibilities.

Gunz the Duel is a third-person shooter with some role-playing game elements, but for the sole purpose of this review, I am going to stick to rating it as much as possible to a third-person shooter. Unlike first-person shooters, a third-person shooter allows a person to see around him, and this requires different gameplay strategies than would a first-person shooter. Not only does Gunz the Duel rely on guns to get the job done, but has an array of weapons ranging from the one-bladed sword to dual swords to daggers and even the nice fragmentation grenade. The role-playing element in this game is that when a player levels up, he or she will have access to higher forms of stronger and more useful weaponry and armor. Though a persons experience and armor does not increase, through the use of the level system, people can purchase armor and weapons to get stronger.

I have played Gunz the Duel on and off for several years, and I can tell you that it has gotten better, but there are some things that are starting to lurk into that may take down the community. The greatest thing about Gunz the Duel is that even though it is free, there is a watch-base making sure that cheaters and hackers are taken care of swiftly and promptly. Since it is a free-based software though, it is open to hackers, but as the years have passed and the game creators have become more adept, such problems are drastically decreasing. Though a new thing has popped up that may somewhat hinder gameplay experience, and it is the combination of paying accounts and nonpaying accounts. People who pay, can have access to quite aesthetically pleasing armor and weapons. Though while cheap in their prices, signs of cash in a game that has always claimed to “always be free” maybe a sign for a rough future. Despite this though, what is great about this game is that it is mostly skill, not weaponry or armor who is going to declare the victor. Since this is a Korean-based game, it's flow allows for the truly elite players to easily conquer those who have superior armor, because superior skill in this game is tenfold better than what can be purchased with money, and thus, freedom is forthright.

Now enough with the expose and let us venture onto the review…

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Gameplay: 8/10
As with all multiplayer based games it is important to note that the fundamental part is the multiplayer score and that all the other sub-scores flow into that one score to make all components, gameplay, graphics, etc. truly a base of multiplayer power. So if one section is lacking, so will the multiplayer component. For a free game, the gameplay perspective is quite adjusted well to give the sense of liberty, but at the same time prevent sheer liberties that glitches can be exploited. The most noted part of this great game is that a player cannot continue on unless his gameplay is mastered. Unlike in other shooter multiplayer games that rely more on the mouse for aim and the keyboard for nice paced movements, this is a Korean-based game and utilizes the infamous k-style.

K-styling of course derives from Korean-styling of gameplay and is of the most important if a player wishes to keep leveling and continue into the higher ranks. What is so amazing about k-style is that it is a technique that many people can continue to improve upon despite how well they believe they have mastered. K-style is not an overnight thing, and is a technique that may take months to master, but once mastered, it can easily destroy players that do not utilizes. K-styling uses the fast liberties of the keyboard to allow for a destructive nature of gameplay that is very unique to Gunz the Duel and hard to find in such popularity as this game. Even when learning this style at lower levels, a new player to the style will easily see its benefits against other players especially in one on one sword combat.

Though with the demands of k-styling, gameplay can be debilitating, because it requires the game to respond to the quick responses of the keyboard, which unfortunately if a player lacks an adequate high speed connection, will fail to acknowledge. With the game being free, there is the lack of nice host-based servers so that everyone has an equal opportunity to share gameplay and at higher levels it becomes more a question of who is the last person to lag. Lag is a big issue in the gameplay, but I will dwell more into this in the sub-score multiplayer category.

Now the controls themselves are very easy and they use the default third-person shooter configuration of the “W, A, S, D” movement with the other surrounding keys for the support of shooting and reloading. This game is so fast-paced that sometimes it feels that it is more ninja-like than real-person like. If a player can get used to this type of gameplay, he or she will truly enjoy the intrinsic aspects of the game. Unlike other games, I cannot stress that k-styling is a necessity and it is the fundamental aspect of the gameplay system of Gunz the Duel. Now you may ask what is different about k-styling gameplay than regular gameplay, well it is faster and deadlier. I will give an example with one-on-one sword duels. The k-styling person will be able to hit the opponent, block the attack, dash around the opponent, and slash down on the opponent with a counterattack and easily knock out the naïve opponent in less than five seconds. It is devastating in one-on-one when mastered, and once it is used in a pit of players, can easily take out three or four quickly and effectively. Some of the names of these techniques are known as butterfly and doubleshot. Not only does it allow a player to have superiority in sword and gun fights, but also in quick movements to avoid getting hit. It is about hitting the opponent with fire power, while dodging the enemy at the same time. This is the gameplay that makes Gunz the Duel unique and a type of gameplay style worth exploiting in the future.

Multiplayer: 4/10
Unfortunately since this is a free game, there are many fallacies in it that need to be worked on. Though had this game cost money to play, I do not believe it would have been successful if these problems had been repaired. The main problem with the multiplayer aspect is that there really is not anything to drive a player to want to duel except if he or she wants to play with some friends. There is no multiplayer driven goal in this game except to get higher in the levels and to get stronger weapons. Other than that, it is quite dull. There is not much in terms of team games, because in those games it is truly very difficult to rack up experience points when you prefer to use the code of honor and let teammates kill the enemy as well as yourself and hope the system dishes out the experience fifty percent of the time to you.

In my opinion, the only thing I find fun about the multiplayer component of this game is that there are actually sword duels as opposed to the gun duels in which players usually just get sprayers and hope for the best. For the sword duels, this is where the multiplayer can become fun and intriguing. Had this game been based around purely assassin and samurai fighting styles, I believe that it would have garnered more attention. In terms of guns and weaponry, due to lag, there is many aspects in the game that make it off balanced and very frustrating to the people who are not lucky enough to enjoy host connection.

The only purpose of the multiplayer aspect in this game is to enjoy a not-so-seen option, the sword fights. In the game, you have a choice of three types of bladed weaponry: the sword, the dual swords, and the dagger. The dagger is basically reserved for the rather horrible players that have never learned how to k-style, and it is really a choice between sword and dual swords. The sword and kodachi (dual swords) have there advantages and disadvantages. While the sword does more damage, the kodachi blades can deliver swifter blows, but are shorter in terms of length. For optimum k-styling, the single sword is the best choice. With a sword duel, the game does not have to think about as many components such as bullets, but can focus on the two blades colliding which each other. The hit system to register hits is flawed, but it does get the job done. Had this game not had swords, I would have said it is not worth your time, but because there are gladiator games, I enjoy occasionally returning to Gunz the Duel to whip a couple players that randomly keep clicking the attack button instead of focusing on trying to use k-styling. Some people have just never heard of the butterfly and the double butterfly, but when they get clobbered so badly, it is always wise to ask what you are doing wrong.

Now in the newer addition of Gunz the Duel, there has been an addition to the horrible experience that a person can gain through a sort of MMORPG element of gameplay similar to a raid or a little brigade. Unfortunately, it contributes so little to the aspect of Gunz the Duel though that I will just incorporate it into the overall multiplayer sub-score. Now once a player gets tired of playing sword games, he or she can take part in little story adventures that can be quite fun. These games actually emphasize cooperation, and it is very hard in the later parts of these quests to actually win if your teammates do not cooperate in distraction and destruction. Unfortunately though, the quests rely more on non k-style type of fighting and so would not develop the skills of an opponent trying to better himself or herself in multiplayer singles. Yet, it is a great way to enjoy cooperation in a game that is full of chaos.

The amount of weapon combinations and items at a person's disposal is quite enormous as well. There are pistols, revolvers, submachine guns, rifles, machine guns, rockets launchers, grenades, and much more. To add to the role-playing experience there are even rings to boost the armor or health of a player. With all these weapons at a persons disposal, it then becomes an issue of which weapons are preferable to a person's style of playing and whether the person should instead save up for the next weapon that is much better and is available two-levels up. This is very clever and can teach people even about how to save up for a better upgrade in real-life and sacrifice down performance for just a little longer. Not only that, it emphasizes the need to use better skill rather than better weapon to overcome the enemy. You could have the best gun or sword in the game, but if you do not have the skill, an armorless person could easily eliminate you with the worst pistols or sword in the game if he or she is proficient in the techniques of Gunz the Duel.

Despite the aspect of the sword fighting and the quest mode though, the multiplayer aspect of this free game can become quite old and boring quite quickly. The major problem that hinders most multiplayer games that receive such score are poor online coding, which results in what everyone hates – lag. Unfortunately, the creators of Gunz the Duel have no ability to prevent the horrible dial-up internet users who know their connection cannot hold the capability of playing the game from actually playing the game. The game creators have not attempted anyway to prevent these horrible laggers that bog down the system with their 56 or even 33 kbit/s connections with 999 ping from getting booted from the game. What makes the game even worse is that even though players have the option of booting people, only one random person has the right to start the vote. Now if that person does not start the vote, then the horrible person cannot be booted. This can cripple games that have been going well, but then a lagger enters the mainframe and nobody can boot the player, because the host is away from the keyboard or worse yet, is winning, and just wants to claim victory to his ego by forcing everyone else to quit.

Though the lag is not just reserved for the horrible and conceited dial-up users, but also for cheaters and thanks to the poor coding of the servers. The lag is minimal, but it still exists, but in this day and age of technology and with the need to have an optimal multiplayer experience, it is necessary that lag be a thing of the past and that the word “lag” becomes archaic in the terms of a multiplayer gamer's vocabulary. Unfortunately lag still plagues the high-speed internet users and this can cause massive frustration, because sometimes the database will register the user as not lagging, but the user is actually lagging, and all the efforts you do to eliminate the player are for nothing. Also with these unsupervised servers, a player is capable of doing the infamous standby glitch to cut everyone out of the servers for a split second except the player standbying. This allows the cheat to freeze everyone, keep his connection going, and eliminate and garner all the experience of the helpless users.

Now while we are on the topic of cheaters, let us not forget that with a free game, there are sure to be easy defenses to exploit, and nonetheless, the infamous hackers exist. Despite many improvements to prevent hackers from integrating with Gunz the Duel, they are still able to get in and hack the system and totally destroy the multiplayer experience with players. Not only is it almost impossible to boot them, but if people are able to boot them, they are able to glitch their way back into the system and continue to cause chaos. Cheating through hacking in Gunz the Duel has become so widespread that most of the community gave up on Gunz the Duel a few months back, because even the novice of computer users could download the hacks for Gunz the Duel and easily exploit unlimited flurry attacks and infinite health. Unfortunately, this still continues to plague Gunz the Duel, and this game will live on as a thing with potential, but plagued with the most common fallacies.

Servers are another big concern, because many times they are down and can sometimes always be full. Though for a free game, it is hard to complain when people are probably fixing the servers through only mere sponsorship.

Despite this though, the multiplayer is simple to configure up to allow many friends through chatting and partnership to go into a game and enjoy multiplayer fun that is basically without lag, lacks cheaters, and can be ultimately fun. This is the only great thing about the multiplayer component, because as long as a party can reserve its own private room, then the people of that party can enjoy all the fun of a regular demo of a first-person shooter or third-person shooter such as the demos of the Unreal Tournament games.

One more thing that people can enjoy from the multiplayer experience is that skill is more important than how much a person can spend on weaponry or armor. Even though the game always claimed to be free, people can now purchase armor and weaponry to boost their powers, though skill will still outperform them as I have taken down many players who have enlisted in the paying adventures of Gunz the Duel. They do have a slight advantage, but if there skill is not up to par, and their techniques in k-style are rough or nonexistent, then it is quite satisfying to know that the jig is up for this wannabe players. Unlike in many multiplayer games that want to keep players relatively equal in skill level despite people leveling up, this game is truly one that if you master the multiplayer k-styling aspect of the game, a player can truly be a master of masters in this Gunz the Duel. Unlike in many other games where the best of the best characters are evenly match, players in Gunz the duel and vary so much in skill level it is always amazing to see level twenty or thirty opponents take down level fifty opponents, as it is not level but skill. This is a game where skill rules the multiplayer field – k-styling skill.

Though I will let you know, that there are many demos of games out there where you will enjoy the multiplayer content more than in this game, and really, this game is nothing special, and has only slightly more content then a demo of supremely better multiplayer games would have.

Graphics: 5/10
Ya, the graphics in this game are very mediocre, but you cannot blame the game too bad, because it is free. I will not go lightly on a game just because it is free, but judge it the same as whether it would have cost me money as well. There is nothing special about the graphics except that a person is able to interact with the environment, can enjoy seeing himself and the other characters, and can notice the changes in his character when a he or she changes his or her clothing or weapon that the male or female character possesses. Other than that, the graphics are there just to get the job done. There is nothing special about them, but they lack so much detail as well, that they can be analogous to decade old personal computer shooter graphics. It is obvious that probably ancient computers could easily run this game at a high performance level and only the rockets and the bullets that fly out of the guns add any flavor to the mundane graphical world. Though as this is a fast-paced multiplayer game, most people are caught up in the heat of the moment, and not in the graphical nature, but graphics are always a must in a game of any stature, because it is the foundation where player and character can connect. When a game has to compete with other games that are being released on the PC, it is necessary that even though it is free, it still is not free in the sense that a person must waste his time to determine whether the “free” aspect comes with a catch. If the game has poor graphics and is marred with lag, then it is not worth the “free” part, because a person starts wasting his or her time, because time is money in a sense as well. The graphics are not poor though, but marginal, and for the most part deliver on the sense of hit and miss. Sometimes though, it can get quite annoying when lag and graphics combine to read out false information, and this can really frustrate players even more.

Sound: 9/10
I actually enjoyed the sound and musical quality of this game. The songs were few in quantity, but they had great quality in that they were rich in content. The music did not sound obviously slapped together and synthesized just to add even more justification to the reason of making it free, and had this been in other games, it would do quite fine. The music does sound oriental and sword-like in the sense of the samurai, because obviously this is a Korean-based game. Possibly, my favorite part of this music, is just when I'm out there battling people in the gladiator setting, because it reminds me of the movie Gladiator. It matches quite nicely. The only reason that it does not receive a score of ten for the sound is that despite its great quality, there could be use for a little more soundtracks, because after playing this game for a few hours, the same songs can grow old. My favorite song out of the entire batch in this game is probably the song that plays at the train station, while you choose which character you want to play in a server, quite energetic and foreboding a desire to slay the enemy. I always say that if you would listen to some of these songs on an iPod or mp3 player without the game in front of you, then the musical quality of the songs is noteworthy, and Gunz the Duel does fulfill such aspects.

Replayability: 6/10
As with all multiplayer games, there is an indefinite amount of replay content. Unfortunately though, a couple gameplay and multiplayer issues that can cause frustration make continuations in this game an improbability mar this game. Hacking and lag are the ultimate opponents in the replay issue of this game. Though the game creators of Gunz the Duel are trying there best to suppress the people who continually want to destroy a free game with a lot of potential, there are better games out there that lack cheaters and are free as well, such as demos. I am not sure why, Gunz the Duel cannot possibly avoid hackers, but until they can be suppressed, this game will not find the affection of many players. Lag of course seems to always plague the game, and the inability to knock off players can get quite annoying. Though in terms of LAN parties and if you can somehow get this on school computers, it can prove a simple game and very fun to play, analogous to the original Unreal Tournament. There is replay in this game as long as you avoid the lag and hackers, and it can be quite fun, but as I suggested, there are better games out there, that are just as free, and are more worth your time.

CONCLUSION
Using my rating system for a multiplayer game:
10% Gameplay, 50% Multiplayer, 20% Graphics, 5% Sound, 15% Replayability

Overall Game Rating: 5.15

OVERALL RATING: 5/10
Suggested Action: If you want, you can try it, but there are better games.


Final Comments: Fortunately, this game is an easy download, and easy setup, and an easy uninstall. It is fun for a couple days, but it soon grows old, because there is nothing to strive for. The only purpose is to get to a higher level and enjoy seeing your character in not as ragged of clothing and with a better gun or blade. Though many people want to be masters to the nice k-styling, it could take a whole month to even become halfway decent at it, and what is in it for you? This game is not like World of Warcraft with a huge base, and where mastery can bring fortune, but is instead like mastering a game that nobody plays. Sure, a few thousand may play this game, but why not try to be a master of better games out there? There is Unreal Tournament demos that are just as free and can be just as fun and offer a much better multiplayer experience. The game is free, but that is all it is worth. It has good prospects, but unfortunately lacks a connection to allow players to join its bandwagon, and actually cause people to jump out of it only after a few days of playing. It is something to try if you are big into shooter games as I am, not in no way is it a classic or even a great game, but just a game of which to take a slight note. Yes, it is slightly fun, especially the sword fights which can be unique, but other than that, it is nothing special.

Fin


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 07/26/07


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