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If there’s one thing that modern gamers can’t get enough of, it’s bite-sized games that deliver big action, and that’s exactly what it looks like we can expect out of a couple of PlayStation exclusives, Guns Up! and Helldivers.

There were plenty of big AAA blockbusters on display at E3 2014, but two of the games I had the most fun with are actually downloadable titles hitting the digital market later this year. Guns? Check. Explosions? Check. Smaller price tag? Big check.
Guns Up!
I had not actually heard about Guns Up! before E3 and now all I want to do is download it and get back to playing. It’s actually a free-to-play romp coming to all three PlayStation consoles and, according to the helpful booth attendee who was guiding me through the demo, it won’t be “pay to win.” Instead, you’ll pay for skins and the ability to progress through the game more quickly (if you choose), and online competition will take those “advantages” into account, meaning you shouldn’t get paired up with an over-powered opponent who booted up the game and just dropped 20 bucks to unlock a bunch of stuff.

So what is the game, exactly? The best way I can describe Guns Up! is to call it a tower defense game in reverse. There will be several modes of play when the game finally launches, but the map I played had me simply marching across a well-manned field of battle on a quest to destroy an enemy base.

You start out with enough funds to deploy a handful of troops and, as they progress through the level, you’ll earn funds in order to send in more soldiers as your forces start to dwindle. You’ll want to match the soldier types to the upcoming defenses and, as they make progress, you’ll be able to collect even more resources on the fly.

These resources can also be used at the push of a couple of buttons, allowing the player to drop in air strikes, place mines or call for a targeted sniper shot on a particular enemy.

There’s enough here to keep you constantly working toward success, but not so many options that you become overwhelmed. After a while, I found myself falling into a sort of groove, constantly picking up resources and placing them on the field where I thought they would help my team the most, then glancing down to see if my soldiers could use some reinforcements on their never-ending march toward victory. Coming up on a heavily guarded area? Drop a decoy to draw enemy fire. Are soldiers about to come crawling out of that tent? Throw a mine in front of it and watch as they get blown sky high. Need additional support? Call in some paratroopers behind enemy lines.

I was impressed, especially since the game won’t cost a dime to jump into.
Helldivers
I’m seeing Helldivers pop up on a lot of “best of show” lists and I can absolutely see why. This PS3, Vita and PS4 game takes the concept of dual-stick shooting and tacks on cooperative combat and a hell of a lot of strategy to push the genre in a completely new direction.

Up to four players can team up and choose their loadouts before being dropped into a randomly generated war zone with randomly generated objectives. You’ll be able to pick which weapons you bring into battle, which abilities you have equipped and what extra gear you’ll want to have access to. Balance is important here, so you’ll likely want to coordinate with your teammates to determine who should bring what onto the battlefield.

Once you’re on the ground, you’ll be able to run, shoot, dive and lob your grenades like in a third-person shooter, only this game is being viewed from a top-down, 2.5-D perspective. To keep things interesting, you’ll also have a manual reload, meaning your gun will go click-click-click until you hit the button to feed in a fresh clip. And you probably don’t want to reload before you’re empty, as any ammo still in the clip will be tossed away, too.

As you’re moving about, mowing down waves of enemies and completing your tasks, you’ll also be able to call on additional abilities by bringing up a quick menu and tapping in a set of D-pad commands to, say, drop an ammo crate or bring down a mech you can then jump in and control.

The game will also host a living universe with three enemy races from the onset. The combat will be broken into “seasons,” and how the players fare against individual groups one season will determine the strength of the enemy the next season. An enemy that is especially decimated may also disappear for good while a new war-hungry race could eventually be introduced to take their place.

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