All things considered, GunZ 2: The Second Duel is a risk that I could have appreciated were it not for the overwhelming success of its predecessor, GunZ: The Duel. This latest installment is a disappointing follow-up to the interesting and dynamic GunZ playstyle, choosing to depart from the core principles that gave the original game life, and limit the third-person shoot-and-slash combat to six basic gimmicks. Sure, everybody was tired of hearing about all the new techniques allegedly being discovered by other players looking to replicate their favorite anime heroes, but the one element that kept the old game great was the sheer diversity in options you had when controlling your character.
If you want to play as anything even remotely like what’s in the original GunZ, you’ll pick the assassin class, and if you want to win without the painfully easy sniping gimmick and really stay true to the experience, you’ll choose female. Gender locking didn’t exist in the original installment, but MAIET felt it necessary to differentiate the two genders from each other for all three classes in this game and thereby backtrack on the decades of progress in MMO culture in which we have finally stepped away from such an annoying limitation.
Unlike the assassin class’s double-butterfly/juggle stunlock combo, the other classes are worth playing due only to their choices in weapons (most still being automatic fire/”spray”). Save for the male trooper, every class borrows at least some small aspect from the original game that would normally have been available to a single character, but if you’re attempting the famed Korean Style, you’re best to stick with the (female) assassin; otherwise, I recommend the (male) ranger solely for the ability to whip other players from an immeasurable distance and effectively stunlock them that way.
Negating all semblance of required skill comes the special ability system, whose aesthetics vary based on class but are inherently the same unless you’re a (female) assassin or (female) trooper, in which case enjoy being even more overpowered. GunZ 2 allows players to charge a meter that dictates the use of one of three special abilities, which is also expended when parrying or recovering from being knocked into the air. Each ability has a varying degree of usage based on the charge of your meter. If the meter is full, everything in front of you will die at the press of a button. You heard it: one-shot killing is essential in this game, and if you aren’t collecting all the pick-up items to recharge your meter or going on killing sprees, you aren’t charging it fast enough to do what’s required for your team’s victory. There’s no greater feeling than respawning after being repeatedly slashed through your block despite expending your meter to parry, only then to be brutally one-shot killed out the gate and repeat the process. Did I mention that there are plenty of combat-hindering bugs that haven’t been fixed since release?
If lack of combat diversity wasn’t enough, MAIET has stripped this newer game of its most interesting and wide-open maps and instead gone with a two-directional approach, peppering these bland scenes with the occasional warehouse crates and hanging trailers to keep it from looking like just another retextured building structure. Your map might occasionally have a second floor to traverse across, but the crawl spaces can’t be too large because all games are now limited to 4v4. The only reason that the Mansion map was ported over from the previous game is due to the fact that it was one of the older game’s smaller and more iconic arenas, capable of reminding you that you’re actually playing GunZ without giving you the freedom you crave for performing complex acrobatics along the map’s infrastructure like in the old game’s other scenes. Even if these old maps were to be brought back in today’s GunZ, good luck trying to maneuver around them without wall canceling, being forced to rely on the limited wall running and its random stops that seem to occur even while moving across a completely flat surface.
Limiting your choices further, you no longer have a lobby from which to decide which game session you’d like to enter; rather, you’re forced to enter a queue for four different modes, none of which being free-for-all. You have your choice of Team Deathmatch, Team Elimination, Gladiator, and Time Assault. Barring the last option because it’s unpopular, you’ll find that most of your time is spent staring at your wait time as it soars over the supposed average, the game’s population suffering to the point where you’re no longer able to play. The tendency now is to find a group of three other players with which to join the queue, as you’ll always have priority over single players. If you just want to get into the game and not worry about the queue, you’ll have to enter the Training option, which oddly enough brings back the ability to choose your session like the base game should already allow.
So if you want to give GunZ 2: The Second Duel a try, join it with friends. I won’t say that it isn’t fun, but if you want to avoid frustration, be prepared to nickel and dime your way through the game by avoiding all the one-shot kill abilities and timing yours correctly; most importantly, try not to go into it with the mindset of an old-time GunZ player, because you will be sorely disappointed at the lack of true K-Style play.