For the past few months, GEARCRACK Arena has been doing its best to get my attention. I have received numerous coupons and seen it on sale multiple times. During a recent Week Long sale, I decided to take the plunge and invest in this game. The seventy-five percent discount helped reduce the financial burden this decision would reap. So, I plunked down the quarter and gave it a whirl. And people call me a skinflint…
GEARCRACK Arena takes place in…an arena. This is the type of hard-hitting, steely gazed observation that garners international acclaim…. Tell your friends and loved ones: I am making critical history. This top-down, board contained shooter casts the player as a lone human facing off against an ever increasing number of larger robots in a quest to survive to the next board. There are four separate classes to choose from. The primary difference is the amount of shots the player can fire per board and the amount of hits that can be taken before it’s game over.
Yep, there is limited ammunition in this top down shooter. To make up for this, there is a hacking function that can be activated by hitting the space bar. Using this prevents the opposition from firing their weapons. The player can then destroy the robots by utilizing a delightful jete turn. Deadly ballet can be used without hacking, but I found that it was more satisfying if I can imagine that I have the robots’ full attention as I dazzle them with my majesty.
The graphics are a muddy mess. It took a couple of restarts before I could pick up on where I was supposed to be on screen as well as read the difficult to decipher instructions that make up the background of the first board. Seriously, this game is pure garbage. Do not play it.
Wait! Come back!
Notice that I said not to play it. There is something else to be mentioned regarding whether or not one should purchase it: the included soundtrack.
I have a narrative that I have concocted in my head. One that I refuse to engage in even the most basic research to prove or disprove. This game was created by musician Walter Machado to get his demo tape to the world. I can understand why this would be difficult. His music is definitely 90’s era hard industrial, a genre that isn’t exactly selling discs or downloads. I would describe this soundtrack as Noise Unit meets Psychopomps at their most raw. The bass is deep, the electronics go bloop, and , when there are vocals, it sounds like the gentleman at the microphone just finished regurgitating razor wire and isn’t pleased that his nice meal went to waste. (For those of you who wish to be pedantic, yes, I realize that true industrial is something like the output of Throbbing Gristle or Einstürzende Neubauten. The term got co-opted. I’ve learned to live with it.)
The compositions themselves are pretty darn good. I would be hard pressed to describe them as particularly complex, but the interweaving of the electronics with the live instruments are hard driving while welcoming the layer by layer mental deconstruction of the music I engage in while listening. It could certainly use a bit more polish, but for a low budget, independent record, the production values are pretty solid.
So, if you enjoy industrial music, GEARCRACK Arena is a must buy. If it were a full-priced CD, I would only recommend it to hardcore genre fans only. For me, the mp3’s will be living on my Zune for a while. Packaging it dirt cheap with a game was a pretty ingenious move, though. Seriously, check out this guy’s demo.