Guns of Icarus Online Review
Being a grown, adult, and completely unfashionable male man, I have at most, a rudimentary knowledge of the popular culture commonly known as steam-punk. As far as I’m aware, it has something to do with the steam combustion engine and the punk-rock movement. Together, these two world-changing ideas have conceived a fashion enjoyed by goggle-loving, gloomy teenagers worldwide. Or something like that. Other notable aspects of the steam-punk concept are science-fiction type gadgets, crafted entirely from brass and wood. I had a wooden car once. It had wooden wheels, wooden seats and a wooden engine. Trouble was it wooden go. That is clearly a great joke, but is Guns of Icarus Online a great game?
Guns of Icarus Online is a first-person, team based, online-multiplayer, airship combat game. Airship combat simulator, if you like. The player takes on the role of one of four available classes: captain, gunner or engineer and along with three crew-mates, control a steam-punk style airship and attempt to obliterate the opposing team in various game-modes.
Matches host up to 32 players, split between the two teams of red and blue. Before the match begins, the player is given an opportunity to select which class to play and customise their loadout. The available classes all have unique items and perks to choose from, such as repairing tools for an engineer, weapon buffing tools for a gunner and speed boosts for the captain. All classes have at least one of each tool, to enable some versatility, though they carry more of the type of tool that will be advantageous to their class. There can of course, be just one captain per airship, whilst the other three crew-members can be whatever they like. A crew without an engineer and their life-saving repairing skills will be at some disadvantage though.
If, by any chance, a full crew of four human players can’t be found, fear not, for AI bots can be used to fill all available positions, except captain. The bots seem to do their jobs to a satisfactory level, though, inevitably, a real-life person is preferable. Unless that real-life person happens to be myself attempting to play as engineer. In the week I’ve spent playing Guns of Icarus Online, taking on the engineer class has definitely been the most stressful experience. The job involves being aware of any and all damage sustained by ones airship and quickly finding the malfunctioning hardware to douse the fire and then bash repeatedly with a tool to fix it, hopefully before the airship explodes, killing the entire crew. Phew.
The captain position is not without it’s pressures, as you would imagine. Steering the massive airships takes a bit of practice. The physics are unlike anything I’ve virtually flown before. Mind you, I’ve never played a ship-simulator, so there may be some resemblance, for the initiated. The benefit of playing as captain, is that you get to pilot whatever airship you choose, with your very own customised weapon selection. There are six ships available at this time, each with it’s own inherent strengths and weaknesses. Like the individual class loadouts, airship weapons are chosen from the pot of available types. Airship weapons are all very steam-punky, included currently are such joys as the Mercury Field Gun and the Pyramidion. By far, my favorite class to play has been gunner. This role requires the player to select three ammunition types from the five available, man the guns and concentrate on blowing enemy airships in to smitherines.
With so much emphasis on team-play, it’s pleasure to report that Guns of Icarus Online has a very effective communication system. Voice-chat is available in the team lobby and once the match has begun, becomes crew specific, which makes communicating with the people that matter a doddle. If, you don’t fancy voice-chat, no problemo, for text chat is also implemented. Joyfully, text-chat is available from the multiplayer lobby, where players can promote their created matches and ask for crew, and throughout the match itself. Game menus are clean, effective and user-friendly. Joining a created game is as simple as clicking on the hosts name and selecting ‘join game’ in text-chat. Wonderful. Other than that, you can get ship-shape by using quick- join, matches or practice options. Right now there are seven maps to play and three game-modes: Deathmatch, Resource Race and King of The Hill.
Additionally, the main menu includes a social tab, which is where in-game friends are managed. Other groovy features of the main menu are a player statistics section, for keeping track of your career, and a store, where one can purchase spanking new steam-punk style goggles, top-hats, cloaks and other fancy cosmetic virtual items. Surprisingly, items from the store are bought with real-life money, paid via the Steam-store. Levelling-up your character comes from multiplayer experience and unlocks titles and achievements. At this time, there is no competitive benefit from levelling or purchasing items, which is rather great.
Full video and audio options are accessible, for the technically-minded, as are editable key-bindings. Joysticks and gamepads are also supported. In-game music is suitably sweeping, orchestral pomp and sound design well produced. The graphics are clear, crisp and pleasing to the eye. Developer, Muse Games, have utilised the Unity Engine in this release and the result is a polished, effective product. I have encountered zero bugs whatsoever.
As pc gamers, we want and expect a great deal of customisation in a quality game. Guns of Icarus Online provides this, which allows for a high degree of personalisation and hence, immersion into the gaming world, which, for all intents and purposes, is what it’s all about.
At the time of playing, around 100 players were online regularly, and there was no shortage of created games to join, day or night. The players I encountered during my week playing, were, I must say, incredibly polite and helpful.
As I wrote earlier, Guns of Icarus Online, is unlike anything I’ve played before. The slower pace provided by steam-powered airships took a little bit of getting used to, but it’s worth the investment. Once combat begins, the action is engaging and entertaining. The fact that levelling-up and purchasing store items doesn’t bring any competitive advantages means that newcomers won’t find themselves cannon-fodder. Well, not much anyway.
It’s full-steam-ahead for this delightful game and all who sail in her. Tally-ho, old chaps.
Developer: Muse Games
Publisher: Muse Games
Release Date: 29 Oct 2012
Intel i5 3570k 3.4GHz Quad Core CPU
ATI HD 7850 2GB GPU
8 GB RAM