October 7th, 2012 | By Alex Wilkinson
When I captain a ship the least I expect from my crew is a willingness to do whatever it takes, to keep my vessel afloat, come hell or high water. If I am going to take them to hell and back the least they can do is put out the fires and obliterate all competition in this multiplayer battle for air supremacy (I don’t think I am asking too much really).
Guns Of Icarus Online is a great new title (still in beta) allowing you to live out some of your wildest dreams of captaining your very own ship. Whether your inspiration is the formidable Zap Brannigan or Long John Silver putting your hands on the helm of these beautiful steampunked vessels really is something special, it is also a whole hell of a lot of fun.
Manning the helm is of course not the only thing you can do in Guns Of Icarus Online (although it is the best bit), as each ship can have a total of four seadogs (landlubbers need not apply). One captain two gunners and one engineer providing a well rounded crew capable of all out combat against the bilge-sucking landlubbers that make up the pitiful enemy team.
As you may very well expect in the height of combat the gameplay becomes very fast paced and manic. Swinging the ship around to provide full broadsides, attempting to dodge incoming projectiles. Running frantically to the mizzen to repair the engines, the only thing keeping the boat afloat. “Send them to Davy Jones’ Locker!” You cry down your mic in an attempt to encourage moral to the rest of your ship… When all is seems to do is alienate you.
It is interesting that Guns Of Icarus Online really is a first person with a heavy emphasis on teamwork. Individual efforts are not important in the grand scheme of the game but the way you coordinate your ship and set up the targets really plays a vital role. It is for this reason that captains also have a power to communicate to the other ships on your team. Guns Of Icarus Online takes full advantage of multiple voice channels, allowing the captain to signal other ships to coordinate attacks whilst also having a second local channel to discuss with your crew the tactics on board your own vessel.
I really love the idea of a game like this having multiple voice channels, it really helps to emphasise the teamwork aspect that is so vital in the game. Also as a good captain I don’t want my seadogs cavorting with those on other ships, they might actually find out I don’t know what I am doing.
Guns Of Icarus Online contains a whole host of great ships ranging in size, with the small ships being quicker and more agile than the more armoured bigger boats, although the larger ships also have a wider array of weapons. As captain you don’t just get a kickass hat (there is actually more to if than that surprisingly) but you bring along your own ship which takes full advantage of customizable weapon points, and with a huge variety of weapons in the arsenal you can create many awesome combinations.
The class system work by having each class with individual loadouts adding extra customizability. It is also important to note that selecting a particular class such as the gunner does not limit you only to the ships guns, you are more than able to try your hand at repair or the helm (if you can prise my cold dead fingers off of it of course), as in many situations it will be all hands on deck repairing the various points to get going again.
The main factor with the classes is each has perks that you pick prior to the game, that allow specialisation in specific areas. Captains get three perks in the captain category where as a gunner would only get one in the captin category but three in gunner, etc. I find this system works well in not making the game too limiting but at the same time creating definable roles.
Taking to the skies allows you to really experience the many beautifully created landscapes spanning seas, deserts, and frozen shores all with fantastic skyboxes. One of the questions I did pose to Eric Chung (designer and all round great guy) at Eurogamer Expo about the game was how do the designers make these skyboxes unique and different. He didn’t just answer me he showed me the variety of landscapes available in Guns Of Icarus online.
I have always dreamed of a life in the skies, and in Guns Of Icarus Online you explore vast landscapes which all contain obstacles to avoid or navigate around, adding extra challenge… well.. for any lesser captain that is. Really breaking up the landscapes and adding extra tactics to each map you play.
With the games typically lasting 10 – 30 minutes the gameplay can get very intense, but that is just the way I like it. Muse Games are also pioneering Guns Of Icarus Online as a new eSports title, which I can really see happening. The action, adventure and excitement of a game coupled with the short game time and fantastic visuals makes this one great spectator sport. With full spectator support already in game this really is one to look for.
I have not really found any major issues with the game, being a beta I still expect some nagging issues such as lobby glitches and a few minor bugs, but overall it is very polished. The only drawback about the beta is because it relies on the online community and the lobby is quite under populated at the moment, luckily the ships get filled with AI if you do not have a full compliment (no substitute for the real thing though). It is for this reason I greatly look forward to the official release and the swell of players.
Still in beta there are several elements not fully implemented and a few things still to come, one big thing that will be put into the final product is customisation. It is all cosmetic but a good captain needs abilities like boldness, daring and a good velour uniform. The cosmetics add a nice additional form of customization which is a great way to add that personal touch.
If the beta is anything to go by Muse Games have created a masterpiece in gaming and I greatly anticipate the release at the end of the month, October 29th. Guns Of Icarus Online is available for preorder with a great 25% discount available on Steam for $14, though there is a few different packs to pick from. Also pre ordering will allow you into the beta and believe me the beta is great fun.
Avast ye you scurvy cur get Guns Of Icarus Online and create your own frantic filled adventures online. The offical Site can be found here to follow all the latest from the awesome people over at Muse Games. Be sure to check back for a full review of the release title along with a great interview I did with Eric Chung, and of course all the updates on Guns Of Icarus Online right here at The Indie Game Magazine , for all the indie news as it breaks.
I would like to thank Muse Games, Eric Chung particularly for really introducing me to the game and giving me a fantastic interview, thank you greatly for your time guys!