Review really shines on Facebook

Since we first saw Gunshine — Supercell’s Facebook-based massively multiplayer role playing game — new content has been added, the rough edges have been smoothed, and upgrades have been applied to just about every aspect of the game. The result, you might say, really shines.

Gunshine‘s visual style is cartoonishly exaggerated and although character models look a little rough, environments are detailed, sharp, and colorful. They also vary far more widely than you might expect for a game based on an island, with cityscapes, beaches, deserts, and more all mashed together. But that’s okay, because although there is a story about an armed resistance against the corporate tyrants of Labycore, which built and rules Dawnbreak City and does terrible things to the people who live there, you’ll learn very quickly that making sense is not what this game is all about.

All you really need to know is this: there are a lot of bad dudes out there, and it’s your job to spoil their afternoons. As a hunter, bodyguard, or medic, using both ranged and melee weapons, you’ll steal items and intel, free prisoners, assassinate higher-ups, and leave a lot of dead bodies in your wake. It’s no Modern Warfare but it’s not exactly a game for kids, either. Somewhat oddly, the bad language of the beta preview has been toned down but the bloodshed has gone through the roof. Critically-hit enemies have a tendency to explode like balloons filled with ketchup when they die and while the effect is far from realistic, it is pretty visceral.

Gunshine is all about grinding levels in order to access better weapons, armor, and other equipment through the in-game crafting system. But things move quickly, and there’s enough variety to keep it interesting, not to mention a raft of achievements that will bring out the obsessive-compulsive animal in everyone. Crafting is a relatively slow process that can be hastened by way of diamonds, Gunshine‘s in-game currency, purchasable with credit cards, PayPal, or Facebook credits. They definitely make life easier but fortunately they’re not at all necessary to succeed, as the game strikes a very good balance between offering convenience to those who want to pay for it and not crippling those who don’t.

The multiplayer angle works quite well too, and although you can play most of the game solo, sooner or later you’re going to have to join a group to take down some high-level bosses. You can hook up with anyone in the game, but it’s your Facebook friends who will really prove useful because even when they’re not online, you can hire their characters to work for you as computer-controlled mercenaries. And on the happy days when everyone is playing at the same time, you can rip it up from one end of Dawnbreak to the other as a heavily-armed, socially-maladjusted foursome.

Even though Gunshine is out of beta, there are still a few minor glitches that can pop up now and then in quests. The biggest issue, however, is that the chat and keyboard commands don’t work when the game is running in full-screen mode. There may be a good technical reason for this, but it’s still irritating to have to go to windowed mode every time you want to talk to someone.

But Supercell continues to work on the game — a big recent update added leaderboards, increased the number of characters per player, and brought in a long-awaited ranked PvP arena — and even as-is, it’s perfectly playable and very enjoyable. It’s action-packed, violent, has plenty of places to go, things to do and people to kill – and it’s fun! Facebook games have come a long way, and right now you won’t find a better example of that than Gunshine.

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