You know what the problem with most shooters is? There aren’t enough guns. Sure, there’s typically a decent selection, but who wants “decent?” Nah, I’m all about “absurd.” Give me an absurd number of guns. Borderlands is pretty good about this, but what if we took things a step further and let the player build their own arsenal? That’s what Mothergunship is all about.
The titular flagship, belonging to the alien Archivists, is threatening the Earth. The only ones who can stop it are the Resistance…which isn’t especially encouraging, since the Resistance consists of a completely inept Colonel and his long-suffering subordinates. As one of those subordinates, your job is to go into Archivist ships and blow them up as you work toward the Mothergunship itself. Your equipment includes an upgradable suit, triple-jump boots and whatever guns you can piece together.
That gun assembly thing is Mothergunship’s claim to fame. Guns are made of three types of parts: connectors, which provide a structure for the gun; caps, which provide special bonuses like increased bullet speed or multishot functionality; and, most importantly, barrels, where the fun stuff comes out. You’ll mostly find parts in shops, paying for them with coins dropped by defeated enemies. If you manage to complete a ship, you’ll also be able to take home any parts you’ve collected, adding them to your stash so you can use them again later.
As for the guns you assemble with those parts, they’re about as interesting as you can make them. More creative players than me have done some impressive and hilarious things with gun assembly, but personally I’m a fan of multi-barrel Gatling guns so huge that the recoil allows me to fly. The limit really is your imagination, though it’s worthwhile to keep track of your creation’s enemy consumption so you don’t accidentally make a gun you can only fire two or three times without having to wait, defenseless, for a recharge.
You and whatever gun-babies your mind can birth will proceed through procedurally-generated ships, blasting enemies and collecting gun parts and upgrades all the while. There’s the odd boss battle here and there, but Mothergunship really leans on the variety of your DIY arsenal rather than interesting or unusual level design. Some players are bound to find the game repetitive before too long since it often boils down to moving from arena to arena, killing everything you see. Mothergunship excels as a nice chill-out game for getting into the zone, clearing your mind and laying waste to your foes. You’ll even be able to do this with your friends in co-op once that feature is added after release.
It looks pretty nice as well, especially if you’ve got some decent hardware and can crank the settings up. Naturally, you can make some pretty goofy-looking guns, while the environments you’ll explore and enemies you’ll fight trend toward a sharp sci-fi aesthetic. Sound-wise, the highlight of the game is the voice acting, particularly when it comes to the Colonel. Humor is subjective and “funny” games aren’t especially trendy at the moment – note the games press’ harsh treatment of the excellent Agents of Mayhem last year – but Mothergunship tends to be pretty damn funny.
If you’re after a deep and involving storyline or fantastic set pieces, uh…that’s not going to happen here. On the other hand, if your favorite part of a first-person shooter is the shooting, Mothergunship will suit you just fine. The bottom line is that making new guns and trying them out on yet another set of baddies just doesn’t get old.