Shooting Monsters on iOS’s Warrior Nation-Gunner Loses its Thrill

Warrior Nation-GunnerThere’s nothing wrong with simple games, and quite frankly, they tend to be some of the best; especially on mobile platforms. That in mind, developer Park Sun-Woo has recently released a quaint shooting game by the name of Warrior Nation-Gunner. Based off one of their older titles, Warrior Nation-Blade, this simple title has players killing small bits of time while gunning down dozens of blood thirsty baddies.

A shooter of simple tap controls, this $0.99 iPhone title has it’s pluses, but really feels very average as a whole. Repetitive in nature, the title provides short-lived entertainment, and ultimately suffers from clunky controls that hinder the finesse it could have had.

So the concept of Warrior Nation-Gunner is about as simple as it gets: The player has a pair of guns, monsters want to eat them, and bullets are the solution. Given a pretty flat playing level, gamers simply move from left to right attempting to clear out every enemy on the stage. Walking in from off-screen, climbing out of the background, or swooping in from the sky, Gunner does a pretty decent job of providing a decent difficulty curve; forcing the player to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

In order to combat enemies, users are granted a simple set of controls and infinite ammunition. Using touch controls to move left and right and shoot, players try to gun down creatures before they get in range to attack. Of course, this is too basic, so when the situation becomes overwhelming, players can activate any number of special skills to help even the odds.

ControlsFrom stunning bullets to slide attacks, each ability is sensitive to whether or not the player is moving or standing still. Unfortunately, this is where things get clunky.

By default, the skills change based on movement, but since enemies attack from both sides of the player, the user will often find themselves with the wrong skill set, simply because they had to move in order to turn around. As soon as they stop, the controls will switch back to the standing still set. The problem is that when the game starts to get chaotic, these split seconds of undesirable controls can get the player killed.

One way to deal with this problem is to make special skill sets visible at all times. But the screen real estate isn’t large enough to accommodate every power, so that limits what players can do unless they pause the game. Each special ability also costs mana to cast and each has a cool down period, often leaving the user vulnerable.

Of course, you can get used to the special ability controls. But the real annoyances come in the form of an ultimate attack and the jump/defend button. The jump/defend button is context sensitive to movement, and placed just above the shoot button. The problem is that a tiny button, which is the only way to stop damage, is just not ergonomic for an iPhone.

Among the many other mobile games that involve jumping, an entire side of the screen is usually dedicated to this control. That’s a decision designers probably make because there is no tactile feedback on a touchscreen. Furthermore, as enemies pile in and attack from range, quick access to this control becomes all the more important.

UpgradesAs for the ultimate attack, this consists of a missile barrage from the sky that will become active as the player racks up kills. Unfortunately, it is located in the top middle of the screen, which is far away from where the player is actually looking — at the bottom of the screen (where the enemies and special skills are). This means that it often goes unnoticed when it changes to a slightly lighter tint when ready.

One of the features of Gunner that does make up for control problems is the upgrade system. It’s nothing particularly extravagant, but it is nice that the game allows players to collect some coins and spend it on upgrading both their basic attacks and special abilities at the end of each level.

In the end, Warrior Nation-Gunner is not a bad game, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a great game either. Overall, it’s just average. Rather repetitive with clunky controls, the app just tries for a level of finesse that doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t feel natural. Nevertheless, the game does have a free Lite version, and some might like the controls much more than I do. Either way, it’s at least worth a try.