While EVE Online continues to offer an online sandbox for those looking to get heavily involved, CCP Games has begun branching off into single player VR games. The main focus has been on dogfighting game EVE: Valkyrie, but a smaller project has also emerged. EVE Gunjack is a game where you control a turret and protect a mining vessel from pirates. Is it worth jumping into, or should you just stick to the other entries?
In Gunjack you play as Eight, named so because he operates the eighth turret on a mining platform. Eight is assigned with protecting the mining platform from pirate attacks as they perform operations in less-than-legal locations. This is about all the story you'll get since there's little more than flavor text from one of the miners before you go out on your missions. If you were interested in diving into the world of EVE in a way that doesn't require getting into the MMO, then Gunjack will not be the place to do it.
Every level sees you strapped into the turret and hauled off to your defensive position. You aim the turret simply by looking around and fire with the right trigger. This is about the extent of basic controls: all you really need to do is look and shoot. Enemy formations will fly in and your goal is to take them out before they can either flee or attack you. It's a pretty simple gameplay loop, with each level lasting about three to ten minutes of dealing with enemies like this. There are 22 levels in total, putting a complete playthrough at about three hours, which is a decent chunk of time considering the low asking price.
Thankfully, Gunjack does take some efforts to keep things fresh. Nearly every level in the game introduces some new enemy type. Enemies that can teleport within a short-range, enemies that cloak after descending from on high and enemies that steal your power-ups are among the basic types. Later in you'll also see enemies that require you to destroy their formation in a specific order due to shields, or enemies that will remove your hud if you shoot them down. There's a good chunk of variety in the basic enemy type. The problem comes in when it gets to the more advanced enemies. They were just as unique as the normal enemies, exhibiting interesting traits and ideas, but most of them had so much health that it felt like shooting them down took ages.
You do get some help in the form of power-ups. When you see a crate floating outside you can shoot at it to pull it in, and get a power up from it. There's missiles that track enemies, lasers that do consistent damage, stasis fields that slow enemies down, and more. Each power-up was pretty fun to watch, with explosives and missiles streaking the screen. Yet at times I couldn't help but feel that there were sections of levels made specifically with certain power-ups in mind, and if you didn't have it, or didn't happen to get it from a random crate, you'd pretty much just have to suck up the damage.
There are two special kinds of stages mixed in with the rest. Levels 10 and 20 make up boss fights against much larger ships that require a change of tactics. While you will still be shooting at them for the majority of the time, you will have to change things up a little. The first boss has you shooting at lasers to throw the guns off course so they don't hit you, while the second requires you to use a grapple to yank pieces of the ship's armor off of it so you can hit the most vulnerable bits. There's also a pair of bonus stages where you instead take on asteroids, having a time limit and extending it depending on which asteroids you shoot. It's nice of the developers to put in something a little different, but I didn't find the bonus mode to be that much fun.
Really, your goal is to replay stages to shoot for higher scores and more stars, but I found this system to be kind of broken. It's so easy to get all three stars on every level that I had every star in the game after only my first attempt. On one hand it means I had little reason to play any level after a first go, but on the other hand, I was happy I didn't have to replay levels to unlock more stars to unlock more levels, seeing as levels are hidden behind having enough stars. Still, if you're a score hunter, Gunjack can be a pretty entertaining game to pop in for five minutes to quickly hit a score.
Unfortunately, that's all there is to EVE Gunjack. It's 20-ish missions of looking at what you want to shoot while they fly in circles around you. Some people may be able to pull more out of the game, and it certainly is fun in short bursts, but Gunjack is not the kind of game that is worth much beyond those short bursts.
EVE Gunjack was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on PC and Android-based VR platforms.
EVE: Gunjack can be fun in short bursts, but I didn't find much to keep me coming back to the game as it's far too easy to get everything after a couple of hours. Still, it's a fun couple of hours.
- Easy, Fun Shooting
- Neat PowerUps
- Great Enemy Variety
- Elite Enemies Take Too Long to Kill
- Boring Bouns Stages
- Scoring System Too Easy