The advent of accessible multiplayer has been one of the biggest breakthroughs in gaming over the past decade, but arguably at a cost to the popularity of split-screen and turn-based local multiplayer. Personally, most of my fondest gaming memories involve crowding around a portable television with a group of friends, indulging in the likes of Super Mario Kart, GoldenEye 007 and WWF No Mercy.
The draw of offline multiplayer has always been that social element, which can never be truly replicated online: The sharing of chips and dip, the passing of controllers, and the ability to accept victory or defeat without being an offensive little twerp. In my experience, offline multiplayer has always been wrapped in a certain level of respect and conduct – and Gentlemen! certainly follows that creed.
Set in the Victorian era, this multiplayer-only game for two to four players is a single-screen battle to the death. Playing as a well-dressed dandy, you fight your friends using a selection of weapons collected from crates. These weapons range from the normal (throwing knives and bombs) to the unusual (electricity and top hat-wearing homing pigeons). The emphasis is on simple and fast-paced play with minimal controls; you can move left and right, fire your weapon, or press a button to flip your own field of gravity (instead of jumping). Reach a designated number of kills, and you’ve won.
Truth be told, that’s practically all there is to Gentlemen! There are several modes of play that change some of the rules, such as only being able to use certain weapons, but the onus is definitely on providing an accessible multiplayer game that can be enjoyed by all. While the original iOS and Android game only allows two players, the PC and Mac versions allow up to four players, and you’ll really want to play with three other friends to get the full enjoyment out of Gentlemen!
Because it’s so simplistic, gamers of all abilities can just pick up the game and be able to win a match. Weapons are well balanced, all offering their individual pros and cons (knives are quick and accurate, but can be easily dodged from long distances, while explosive users must of course be careful not to be hit by their own projectiles) and levels allow enough room for the pursuit of foes. It may not be the most tactical of games (you’ll either be chasing your enemies or running away from them), but ultimately this is the kind of twitch multiplayer that provides an uncomplicated few minutes of entertainment.
Much like the game’s title characters, visuals are sharp and stylish, although due to the fast pace of battles it can sometimes be difficult to tell your character from your almost identically-dressed opponents. If you’re playing this on a PC/Mac, you’ll definitely want to play it on a bigger monitor or television screen. Sound effects are minimalistic, while the music played during battles can be rather repetitive at times.
VERDICT: Fast and accessible, Gentlemen! is a fun and chaotic multiplayer game, best enjoyed in small bursts as it’s simplicity can swiftly turn into repetition if played for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Best enjoyed with the full complement of four players, it provides some light amusement at a very low price.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.