- The Washington Times - Friday, July 15, 2011

Destructive mayhem never looked so pretty than in this noisy, twin-stick shooter (use one controller stick to move and the other to shoot) downloadable through the PlayStation Network.

Set in the beautiful world of Mistbound, a once-green oasis now ravaged from mining and war (sort of like “Avatar’s” Pandora), the top-down action of Gatling Gears (Electronic Arts and Vanguard Games, reviewed for the PlayStation 3, rated E10+ for players 10 and older, $9.99) features a player controlling a grizzled veteran stuck in a bipedal metal cans loaded with firepower.

Those in a “Star Wars” frame of mind immediately will identify the vehicle as a steampunked version of an AT-ST (all-terrain scout transport), and it packs upgradable machine-gun turrets, missiles and grenades.

Although crushing the advancing Empire enemy forces through 30 levels (with bosses) is the prime objective (feel free to liberally stomp on pesky foot soldiers), ducking the onslaught of homing missiles, torches, lasers, bombs and machine-gun fire to avoid turning into a heap of smoldering metal is equally important for survival.

Basically, three lives gone and it’s “game over,” brother. Good luck with the huge robotic monstrosities.

Locations dazzle with a cartoony, anime realism and brilliant color pops off the screen whether the player is defending crumbling barracks on a military base, moving over a bridge with a river below (parachutes raining down from above) or climbing down snow-covered terrain stacked with enemy tanks.

Look carefully within each battle for gold bars to upgrade weapons after the fight or collect enough experience to add some style to a walker, including having a pet follow behind it. (Although it would be nice if that maneuver had a purpose.)

Also, blast crates to find a health-recover icon or roll over immediate impact weapons extras, such as a grenade booster, to deliver destruction akin to a miniature nuke.

If the Gatling Gears campaign gets too easy, jump over to a 10-round survival mode to challenge the Empire’s finest minions.

For my money, however, the obvious appeal to the chaos is found through the two-player cooperative action (both local and online) that will guarantee parents screaming in unison, “What’s all the racket?”