Assault Gunners HD Edition feels completely out of place on PlayStation 4. Originally released on Vita in Japan, it never made its way over to the West until this HD remaster, and we can see why. The only real selling point is that you control mechs, and while this point alone might do enough to justify a few purchases in the East, it's unlikely to make an impact here.
In its very makeup, it's clear that Assault Gunners HD Edition was made with the commuter in mind. You don't need to put any thought into the game whatsoever, it just plonks you into a series of missions, briefly prefaced by a generic text scroll of tedious narrative, and assembles desolate levels in which you shoot away at carbon copies of the same enemy over and over again.
The plot is bare and drab, and implemented purely to justify the number of enemies you're required to mow down. You take direct control of a single mech as part of the assault squad DAT, tasked with bringing order to the surface of Mars. Despite having thrived for millions of years, human colonisation efforts on the red planet have gone awry as automated terraforming machines known as ANTs have begun to ignore orders and fight back.
You can give basic orders to the other three members of your squad using the directional pad, move with the left stick, shoot with the right trigger, dash with the left, and change weapons with the face buttons – that's about it. Each of the 32 missions takes just a couple of minutes to complete – again emphasising its value in short, mindless bursts – and the game can be finished in just a couple of hours. Oh, and it hands out Trophies like sweets on Halloween, so there's that.
While each of the missions are almost identical, the lack of variety in gameplay is perhaps the biggest issue. There are a few different types of weapons such as shotguns, rockets, assault guns, and melee attacks, but the game is rarely challenging enough to encourage experimentation. Rockets are useful for handling large groups of enemies, sure, but the rest of them can be interchanged at will with barely any tactical trade-off. It doesn't help that you're usually up against so many enemies you're unlikely to switch anyway.
For what it's worth, it's an entirely inoffensive game. After a long day's work, there's a certain relief that comes from firing on wave upon wave of enemies without the challenge an online shooter might provide – even if you do still get yelled at, this time in Japanese by grizzled NPCs. But it's also mindless and unsatisfying, and it doesn't leave you feeling overly fulfilled by the end.
It's ugly, too, with flat props, sparse locales, jaggy edges, and copy-and-paste enemies. It's not even pretty by Vita's standards, so it's even worse blown up big. It's clear very little thought has been placed into how you interact with the environment or what you will be doing in them – they're just empty spaces. The most fun you'll have is choosing the colour scheme of your team of mechs and upgrading weapons in the hangar between missions, even though doing so provides little benefit.
There's little to get here that you can't get from a mobile game, except you wouldn't sit in front of a 55-inch screen to play something like Temple Run. Assault Gunners HD Edition doesn't benefit from being on PS4 at all; if anything, it's worse off. With little to no depth or nuance, Assault Gunners HD Edition is a mindless action game that offers very little in return for your dedicated time in front of the TV.