I’ve never understood the popularity of social (Facebook) games. Maybe it’s because all of the ones I’ve ever played are the popular ones, and it seems that Zynga currently has a death grip monopoly on all of them. I don’t see the point of Mafia Wars, Mob Wars, and Farmville besides clicking on some pictures of some Mafiosos, a cow, or something or another and then being rewarded with pictures of money.

There’s no story or immersion of any sort. The monotony of the grinding in these games is worse than any Nexon free-to-play game, but at least I would give money to Nexon for at least showing some artistic talent behind their games. Zynga’s development team looks like it’s comprised of individuals pulled off of Wall Street who’ve learned a few lines of HTML and are out to exploit social gamers for all that they’re worth. Their games sound like simple games to win, considering you can just spam click and play missions until your index finger and forearm are swollen to the point where the ladies are giving you a lot of attention for having so much experience in that department, if you catch my drift.

It’s not quite that easy. Zynga puts a cap on the amount of “energy” you have and not because they wanted to add a degree of realism into the game. Good God. If Mafia Wars in any way reflected the real world, then every made man would constantly be pounding Monsters and have an IV-drip funneling caffeine directly into their bloodstream in order to pull off ten bank heists in one night. No, Zynga wants to exploit your pocketbooks. As with all social game business models, they’ve made it so that you have to spend cash in order to quickly refuel your energy meter (or the equivalent) to keep playing the game.

“Money for energy? Why would I ever spend money on such a shoddy game as this?” You scoff, before laughing jauntily, donning your monocle, and merrily go on about your day.

After days of logging in and clicking for a few minutes, you find yourself at level 200. Suddenly, you’re attached to the game because you’ve invested over a thousand clicks accumulated over a week into the game. You have to get yourself into the top 100 families now, damn it! Too bad that in order to do so, you need to have a bigger family and more energy. Then, you decide that paying that $4.99 for that 50 energy is no biggie and you become “that douche” on Facebook.

How do I explain “that douche” syndrome? Well, remember that time you popped open Facebook and your news feed was flooded with “Jonah wants you to join his crew! Play Mafiaville today!” or “Jonah gifted you five cattle and an AK-47! Play Farm Wars today!” Really, you can do without seeing all of Jonah’s requests and being the Facebook savant you are, you block him from your news feed.

I suppose I didn’t come into playing Gunshine with an open mind. Have I no integrity? Well, I honestly tried playing Gunshine without any bias, but the Facebook/social game stigma was just too much.

As soon as you drop by Gunshine.net, you find yourself facing a webpage yelling at you to create an account. You have the choice of connecting your account to your Facebook or Twitter to make registration easier by funneling information directly off of these sights. Even though I knew that it’s how games turn you into “that douche”, I linked the game to my Facebook anyway because I’m a lazy bugger. The game then takes you into the wonderful world of character creation.

The character creation process in Gunshine is relatively a no-brainer thing to do. You can choose between a bodyguard, which is the heavy armor, tanking type, a hunter, which is the light armor, ranged, roguey type, and a medic, a pansy-ass healing type that gets the derpest armor and weapons. So naturally, I chose to be a medic. Honestly, all that distinguishes between the three character classes in design is the oh-so subtle slouch of the bodyguard’s shoulders.

You can also choose your character’s gender and their appearance as with most MMOs. Quite frankly, I’m disappointed at the lack of options here. Gunshine apparently believes that only three races exist with the skin tones of light, darker, and black. You can also choose between various ridiculous hairstyles where the ‘fro is one of the sanest hair styles available. Faces are just as limited: regular, angry-looking, angry-looking with Hugo Weaving eyebrows after being involved in a meat grinder accident. Male characters also have facial hair choices that are just as ridiculous as all of the other options. Naturally, I chose the awesome mustachio, the Hugo brows face, and a Mohawk. THOR was born.

Once your character is ready to ship off to Dawnbreak City, you get a glimpse of the only bits of storyline you’ll ever encounter in the game, which is fairly impressive considering most social games give you a one-lined pitch about the game’s so-called “story” and then spend the rest of the time throwing pop-ups into your face telling you to advertise to your friends about all the fun you’re having with the game, so much so that you’re going to stop and Facebook about it. Apparently, your character is an individual who wants to start a new life in a utopia-like place called Dawnbreak City, only to discover, as with all utopias, that everything’s actually pretty FUBAR’d. How mind-blowingly unexpected.

I couldn't resist. The mustache and the sombrero went together perfectly on THOR.

Essentially, the entire Dawnbreak utopia façade was a clever scam created by Labycore, a pharmaceutical company. Instead of trying to pump you full of speed, they spend the entire time trying to convince you that they’re giving you anti-depressants, or just cackling evilly as they make off with your money. Labycore exploits the newcomers’ talents, although the game doesn’t exactly make this point clear. In fact, I don’t see very much “exploitation” in any case as THOR is attacked by virtually everything as soon as he steps foot on the island: Labycore armored security, a construction gang called the Mad Dogs, prostitutes, chain gang guys, beach lizards, and kamikaze pigs. In any case, Gunshine doesn’t do a great job at getting most of its story across effectively, perhaps to keep it simple for “casual gamers”. On that front, the developers did a great job of pounding it into you “Labycore BAD. Resistance GOOD!”, which is a little disappointing because I think Gunshine would’ve been much more interesting had it offered the player a choice on what faction he or she wanted to join when he or she first arrives on the island. For one, it forces the player to get more involved in the game immediately as they have to decide whether or not they want to join the group with less influences and fewer resources for some karmic good or the tyrannical government with almost unlimited resources and power. They could go home laughing manically every day, patting his or her sociopathic selves on the back for another day of Dawnbreak “terrorist-busting.”

Yes, the entire “good” and “bad” faction thing is already overdone in a lot of MMOs such as APB Reloaded, but nothing like healthy competition to make things fun. And if we can’t literally point M-16s and shoot each other in the face point blank, then doing so virtually is just fine. The idea of having a choice in faction alliances allows players to feel like they have some sort of stake in the game after their decision. New factions would dramatically improve the gameplay mechanics that Gunshine already has in place.

Gunshine is a top-down, point-and-click shooter. Click where you want your character to go and he or she will go where you will. Double-click on an enemy to make your puppet attack it. Simple. The missions are pretty run-of-the mill for most shooter/action type MMOs: shoot X amount of Y type of things, go fetch X number of these items, escort this individual, and you’ll be rewarded with XP, money, and guns… lots and lots of guns. The XP and money can ultimately be spent on better equipment and skills, which allow players to do certain things such as heal their characters or allies, or execute some fancy move that allow them to deal extra damage to an enemy, all at the expense of MP points.