I’ve taken a well-deserved hiatus from writing recently to settle into my day job, enjoy time with friends and family, and to play more Counter Strike than is healthy. The stresses of writing and communicating with third-parties was beginning to take its toll on me, making an otherwise fun hobby a slog. Having had enough of that, and yearning to get back into writing I opened my bursting mailbox (I will get to all of you BTW) and plucked out the first game that caught my eye. “It couldn’t possibly be as bad as it looks” I thought. Oh, boy, was I wrong.
Machine Gun Train Run harks back to a simpler time when side-scrolling shooters, like the legendary Contra, were ten a penny. You’re cast as either the Red Guy or the Blue Guy, and are hot on the trails of an evil, train-robbing organisation called “A.S.S.H.A.T”. Such humour…
Train Run is a mindless, side-scrolling shooter featuring forgettable enemies, forgettable music, forgettable “story” and forgettable art. It’s a completely bland and anaemic take on a classic genre, and has the audacity to ape its contemporaries, without having made even a modicum of effort to entitle it to do so.
The entire game is a bit of a joke, you see, and one that is incredibly self-aware, at that. Everything from the “hand drawn” Microsoft Paint styled art assets, to the tiresome linear design, and even the uninspired and dim-witted AI shows how little care has gone into creating this game.
Shooting wave after wave of enemy scum is the most basic joy a gamer can have, but Machine Gun Train Run makes it positively tiresome. Enemies are brainless and can only fire from the direction they are facing, their movement patterns are predictable and easy to avoid; they’re just entirely unremarkable. Things get no better in two-player either.
Instead of only one person disinterestedly mowing down waves of enemies, you’ll have two. So that’s double your boredom, folks. Friends don’t let friends play bad games. Remember that.
There’s limited enjoyment to be had from a game that offers no carrot at the end of its stick. Don’t expect any upgrades, guns or incentives to tide you through the game’s short campaign – there are none. Playing through the first level pretty much exposes you to every trick the game has up its sleeve, and both my friend and me had reached our breaking point with Train Run long before the last stage.
The game seems to be reviewing quite favourably on Steam, but I’d urge caution: there are far more enjoyable experiences out there that don’t cost £4. Poking yourself in the eye with a stick is a great example.