Warpack Grunts offers disposable entertainment value

Posted: June 28, 2009 in Arcade, Casual, Shooter

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to lead Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs through battle? In a way, you get a pretty good idea with Warpack Grunts, a lighthearted military warfare game where you direct a team of grunts to battle evil. While Warpack Grunts offers a good degree of entertaining gameplay with enough missions to keep you a busy, the gameplay can be limiting and quite frankly repetitious after a few missions.

Warpack Grunts has 40 missions and 4 difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard and Nnnnaarrgh!. You begin with a series of training missions to familiarize yourself with the controls, weapons and tools available throughout the battle areas. The storyline follows the usual world domination plot by the generically named Evil Dude and his army of Ubiquitous Badly Trained Evil Chaps. The objective for the Warpack Grunts is to infiltrate and destroy the enemy teams and their bases to save the world.

The game looks decent, and the various terrains are adequately illustrated. At certain points, animated cut scenes provide storyline to the next mission, but for the most part, they’re disposable. The animation is very smooth and the sound effects such as arms fire, explosions and especially when the grunts are taking fire can be smile inducing. Yeah, I know that sounds bad, but still I can’t help but laugh at their pain.

The controls which consist of grunts following your finger as you drag it around sounds straightforward in concept, but in play, it’s not the most ideal which I’ll explain shortly. To shoot something, you double tap on it and as long as your finger touches the screen, the shooting will be continuous.

Each of the grunts has individual healthbars meaning they can be picked off one by one. But, keep in mind that the team moves as a unit so they can be branched individually as they enter battle. At the end of each level, points are awarded for Health, No Casualties and Squad, and time to complete the mission is also provided.

In the game, there are several weapons that the grunts can acquire and use. These include grenades, rocket launcher, sentry gun, and sniper rifle. As the grunts are directed around the screen, these weapons will appear, which can then be acquired. Once acquired, a button in the bottom left corner appears, and by tapping this button, the alternate weapon can be activated. It’s rather simple, but as I alluded to, the control scheme hinders this a bit. You simply cannot move and shoot which often means the grunts will take the brunt of enemy fire before they can launch a grenade for example. Another tool worth mentioning is the Binoculars. Once this is accessed, dragging around the screen will provide the ability to see around the current battle area. Part of the problem with the binoculars is they are framed within a binocular-like border, which makes them more or less useless because of the limited perspective they provide. Most of the time, I haven’t even bothered to use them.

When it comes to gameplay, I’m a little disappointed because there really isn’t much strategy to the game. If that’s the intent of the game, then so be it. Each of the battle areas is set up like a maze, and you direct the grunts accordingly around the bends. Because of the limited perspective, the majority of the time is spent firing on enemies that they come upon. Because it’s a maze, you’re forced to travel along a certain pre-planned route with very little free movement outside of those paths. Often you will come up against a turret or base, and the goal is simply to launch a grenade as fast as possible. So, instead of a game that involves planning a move, the game is more about quick fingers and seeing who shoots faster. Not that this is a bad thing, but for those expecting more strategy, Warpack Grunts is not that kind of title.

Because the grunts work and move as a team, I would’ve liked to see individual abilities which would add significantly to the strategy of the game. While some will disagree, the current game is skin deep without a lot of substance. In fact, if the controls don’t turn off people, the lack of depth may. At its current price, do I think that’s fair? Well, I do because this is a game, and I’m reviewing it as a full-fledged game regardless of price.

Expectations aside, Warpack Grunts is a lighthearted casual game that brings a certain degree of entertainment. While the game will sell well, I’m sure that will be based more on the Freeverse name and the hype rather than the merits of the game itself. As a gamer, I can’t help but be somewhat dissatisfied at the current result. Now you know what I mean by disposable.

Albie Meter: 3 Stars (recommended for casual gamers looking for explosions and weapons fire without much strategy)

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