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Review: Rust Buccaneers

Posted by on January 19th, 2014 | 4 Comments | Tags:

Twas a shivery day in middle December when I first heard of Rust Buccaneers. A press release and a gameplay trailer surfaced from the briny depths to beckon my gaming eyes. I was captured by its sparkly seafaring graphics and intrigued by its arcadey gameplay. After playing through the game a few times, scoring nearly all of the trophies and floating around the tops of the leaderboards, I finally find it fit to put together some thoughts in words on it. If you’re one of those busy folks with a nervous click-happy finger, here’s the TLDR: Rust Buccaneers is arrrright. I should first mention its presentation, which knocks it out of… the ocean?

Rust Buccaneers’s logo and XMB splash screen are great. Upon highlighting the game, a sunken ship fills the screen and the game’s main theme, a sweeping score more fit for the silver screen, starts playing. This type of strong presentation cast a net over me and drew me in. I dove right in, finding that the game features five different solo game modes and a couple of multiplayer options. I should mention that every game type in Rust Buccaneers hinges on score attack gameplay – The higher your score, the more stars you earn in a particular game. It’s a twin-stick shooter set on the water, with a combo system that rewards players for stayin’ alive and racking up consecutive kills.

At first, only one game mode is available: Deadline. In this mode, you have three minutes and infinite lives to fend off attackers from all sides in an arctic setting. After earning a certain number of stars, you unlock Defense, which tasks you to defend a harbor for five minutes. Raid is a nighttime op mission to destroy three outposts in a jungle setting. There’s a timer counting down and branching paths, so you have some choice as to how you want to complete it. In the next game type, Assault, you have to destroy a harbor building while being bombarded by turrets and other mobile enemies. This game type has the most unique ships, which I’ll get to shortly. Survival is the final game type, and you can probably guess what it’s all about. You start off with one ship then survive and thrive for as long as possible. The higher score you obtain, the better ship you turn into when you meet your demise. I think my best run had me playing for seven or so minutes, swapping boats twice. Speaking of swapping ships…

Across its five game modes, Rust Buccaneers features 36 unique playable ships. Each ship has a primary attack (R1), a special attack (L1), and controls a bit differently than other vehicles. This is perhaps the game’s strongest feature. When you play any of the five game types, only one or two ships are available to play. Use the points you’ve accrued from playing the game to buy and unlock new ships in order. Since the game is relatively sparse on level content (you can basically only play the five game types over and over), much of the fun comes from test-driving new ships; discovering new playing styles and figuring out if you can trump your score with a different vessel.

A few notable ships:
Suicide Sniper – Fast movement, decent attack, turns into a swimming guy with a deadly sniper when destroyed.
Teleport Boat – Small, with a saw that tears up enemies up close. I found it relatively sterile, but the idea is cool.
Sticky Bomber – Launches grenades from afar, which is great for keeping your distance from enemy ships. Its special allows you to ram into a boat/structure, leaving a sticky bomb attached to it.
Raider Pack – A pack of five ships that aim and shoot all at once. When one of the five is low, set it off as a suicide bomber and control where it hits!
Salvage Ship – Most useful in multiplayer vs. battles, the salvage ship repairs a sunken vessel and allows you to play as it.
Research Iceberg – One of the coolest vehicles in my opinion, this hunk of ice shoots a ton of different ammunition as its primary fire. Its special deploys a tiny ship that you’re in control of, shooting and bombing enemy boats that are attacking your headquarters.
Aircraft Carrier – Another hulking mass of a vehicle, the aircraft carrier puts you in control of a handful of tiny flying gunners. Keep the aiming reticle on or around enemies (this requires precise analogue control) to focus fire on them, or trigger the special attack to unleash a lethal bombing attack.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Rust Buccaneers. It’s an endearing game, one that harkens back to the days of simplicity and fun. There aren’t complicated objectives with nested collectables and all that jazz. Rust Buccaneers is all about playing, getting better, unlocking, and playing some more. The experience doesn’t change much with a second player, but it’s nice to have the option to include an offline buddy in the mix. Versus mode is decent, but I didn’t spend much time playing it as many of the ship matchups seemed unbalanced (try playing an oil driller against nearly any ship). Graphically, the game meets expectations for a PS3 twin-stick shooter. The water looks good and the ships hop around on waves accordingly. The sound design is fine, with the main theme setting itself apart from the rest of the music in the game. European players who enjoy a splashing (like smashing, but more water-punny) good twin-stick shooter should pick this one up for sure. The offline only multiplayer may turn some off, but I didn’t mind much, seeing as how all of the levels have leaderboards to climb.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.

General Info

  • Only five game types to replay over and over
  • Versus mode is sort of a bust