There’s no debating that the old school retro arcade scene is alive and well, with a host of titles popping up on our beloved consoles and PCs at a fairly frequent rate. And for many players there’s real enthusiasm for games that can usher forth memories from times gone by, especially if they can put a modern twist on proceedings. That’s where Guntech 2 comes in; a retro action shooter which will immediately draw comparison to many a title from yesteryear. For the most part, it works too.

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Utopos space station; a place that was once a new hope for humanity. But now things have changed and Utopos has become the breeding ground for a new fight; a fight that is different to the rest – that of putting a stop to a virus that is threatening the galaxy. It’s here where you come in, tasked with destroying the lab in which the virus was created, utilising the power of your spacecraft to take down all ahead of you. It could be said that you are the last hope for humanity – you best not fail. 

Guntech 2 is a simple game with a simple premise. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot going on, for even though this is a twin stick shooter at heart, there are a huge amount of ideas going around in what Utopia Games and the developer Jani Penttinen have created. It doesn’t always hit the mark and through our time blasting back against multiple foes and navigating our way through space, multiple issues have cropped up. Yet on the whole, this is an enjoyable ride that can be taken at your own pace.

We’ll start with the positives and this is a fun little cave-navigating romp. Aside from the story set-up in the opening moments, and then some further attempt at hammering home meaning prior to each stage, it’s the gameplay which takes centre stage.

It has you placed in a small spacecraft; one that is powered by thrusters and armed to the teeth with an arsenal of weapons. From there, particularly as progress is made, cash is earnt and you find the time to further upgrade ship abilities and weapon types. There are the usual twin stick vibes which play out – fly around, shoot anything that moves and even stuff that doesn’t, use your tractor beams to grab bits and bobs, and then head to the level end portal once your mission is complete.

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lt plays pretty well too, with some decent thrust and glide of your small ship giving you the control you are looking for. It’s not in any way as tight as something like Geometry Wars, for example, but this is a beast that has been inspired by the thrust-fuelled games of yesteryear. In that respect, it just works.

The shooting is decent too, with a primary weapon attached to your right thumbstick, and further options unlockable and assigned to the bumpers. Guntech 2 lets you run a variety of routes in terms of the weaponry too; if you can unlock it, you can upgrade it and you can utilise its power. Mixing and matching weapon types for different stages and the foes contained within is more than doable, with all manner of missile types, lasers and more present. 

There are multiple ships to enjoy too, each of which is capable of delivering just a teeny bit of difference to the overall gameplay. Even though the garage system in which these are held is clunky at best, again, Guntech 2 is able to do the job needed of it.

The thing is, once you discover a ship and weapon load-out that you like, and you’ve dropped collected cash into upgrading those systems, rarely will you feel the need to change things up. Much of the reason for this is the fact that the plethora of levels present here all really boil down to the same old thing – shoot, collect, get the hell outta there. There’s slight variation on that, but only really as you get through to the very later stages; for the most part it’s that combination of shooting and flying which will power you through the entire experience. 

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It looks good though and visually, even though Guntech 2 is pretty basic in its presentation (something that is highlighted in the simple, slightly crude menu systems), when you are in the game itself, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Your ship is well detailed, as are the plethora of enemy types that you will find yourself going up against. These vary massively too, with the mechanical giving way to the biological as the game progresses, mixing those two angles well when the time calls for it. You’ll not really need to ever change up any tactics in order to deal with what is placed in front of you, but the switch in enemy type is an appreciated one. 

Those enemies don’t just look different though and as with every shooter under the sun, those in Guntech 2 attempt to take you down in numerous ways. There’s the fast moving, low armoured guys, complemented neatly by static firing cannons with homing missiles that refuse to ever give up – seriously, you’ll discover these will be the bane of your time with Guntech 2. There are also those which do away with too much in the way of offense, preferring to try and overcome you in sheer numbers. It’s a great little variety of enemies that will come your way throughout, with each world attempting something just a little different. 

It’s a shame then that the worlds themselves rarely feel like as much love has gone into them. Yes, the Dark Worlds are different to those of the Jungle (they are much darker, for one), and those in turn separate themselves just about from that of Virus, but it’s not really until you reach the stages found in the world of Cargo Hauler will any differences appear. Ultimately there’s some serious copy and pasting going on in terms of how Guntech 2 has been put together, yet we’ll let the devs have a bye here, for we’re more interested in how the gameplay evolves. 

Unfortunately, evolve is something that it rarely does and even though your ship handles really well with the left thumbstick, and the shooting aspect does the same with the right, the entire experience does boil down to the same old same old, just with different enemies and a variation in weapons. Whether that’s enough to keep you playing will be up for debate, but it was just enough to keep us entertained through to the end.  

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There is thankfully a bit of a switch available and whilst we’ve preferred the single player aspect, it’s more than possible to join forces with up to three friends; you’ll need to ensure they are sofa-based however, as online functionality is limited. 

Further and Guntech 2 let’s you choose from a selection of three difficulty levels – easy, normal and hard – but we’d suspect that most will find the middle ground a nice test of their skills. It’s certainly no walk in the park, but similarly, running Guntech 2 in Normal difficulty ensures a balance can be had. Throw in both Adventure mode and Arcade mode, and it’s safe to say Guntech 2 covers your bases. Oh, and the addition of some fun little themed worlds proves that the dev team are right behind this one.

There’s more and a real highlight is a really good soundtrack – and we mean really good – intent on powering everything along. Hardcore rock in its presentation, it may feel like a weird inclusion for the game type, but aside repetition as the latter stages are reached, it works well.

However, not everything fits so neatly in this little twin stick package. We’ve been subjected to multiple game freezes as our ship has refused to move upon level loading, and have occasionally found that what has loaded in has been totally unplayable – a boss level for instance was so zoomed out we’d have had to play through the Hubble telescope in order to see what was what. We’re not totally sure that the hit detection on our ship is always of the fair variety either, with some nicks of the craft providing utterly fatal. 

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It’s not helped that Guntech 2 can also be extremely frustrating to navigate around – and we’re not just talking those clunky menu systems either. You see, moving your way through the maze-like caves in order to fulfil the objectives at hand is fine, but at times you will find yourself floating off into space, with little around you; never sure whether you should go this way or that. This is softened slightly by checking out the small radar which sits around your ship, helpfully guiding you to objectives and points of interest, however it’s not a total solution with it switching on and off at will. It can help with what would otherwise become a journey into the unknown and you’ll want to rely on it on occasion too, if only when you’re attempting to gather up the full stars on offer for each level, completing any stage under the time limit allowed. 

Other than that, further smaller bugs see your ship exploding when you’re attempting to land on a safe zone to gather up the odd survivor, collected crates refuse to be docked, flitting this way and that in the darkest of space and some of the text used to congratulate you on your success is so overblown that it is unreal. 

But, all that said, if you’re looking for a retro-themed space-based twin-stick shooter that works reasonably well, then Guntech 2 is that game. It looks great and comes with tons of amendments, customisation and weapon types, but many bugs and a sense of repetition bring things down a notch or two. If you can look past those, heading out into the great unknown and saving the universe from a galactic virus should well be your next task at hand. 

Guntech 2 is available to download from the Xbox Store

There's no debating that the old school retro arcade scene is alive and well, with a host of titles popping up on our beloved consoles and PCs at a fairly frequent rate. And for many players there's real enthusiasm for games that can usher forth memories from times gone by, especially if they can put a modern twist on proceedings. That's where Guntech 2 comes in; a retro action shooter which will immediately draw comparison to many a title from yesteryear. For the most part, it works too. Utopos space station; a place that was once a new hope for…

Pros:

  • Looks great
  • A huge range of weaponry
  • Plays pretty well too

Cons:

  • Bugs galore
  • A sense of repetition hits hard

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Utopos Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 13 Jan 2022
  • Launch price from - £16.74
TXH Score

3.5/5

Pros:

  • Looks great
  • A huge range of weaponry
  • Plays pretty well too

Cons:

  • Bugs galore
  • A sense of repetition hits hard

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Utopos Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 13 Jan 2022
  • Launch price from - £16.74

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