|PS2, GC, Xbox
|Blood and Gore, Intense Violence,
Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
| The Good
Western action with lots of sidequests
Gunplay is pretty fun
Pretty large world with some nice looking locations
Impressive voice cast
| The Bad
Story mission path is short
Save menu takes too long to use
HUD could be smaller
The American Western as a thematic genre is one that was
popular in cinema some years ago but has never really taken
off when it comes to the videogame market. Outside of Red
Dead Revolver and a handful of other titles, the genre
has seen little to no attention in recent years. So, when
Neversoft revealed that they were working on a third person
action/shooter set in the old West, I was a bit intrigued,
and even a little skeptical. Neversoft has made a successful
living in the skateboarding realm,
but I wondered what would happen when they made a game in
a different genre and without the words "Tony" and "Hawk"
attached to it.
Set in the mid 1800s, Gun starts Colton White, a young
mountain man who is learning to survive in the wilderness
from his father, Ned. After being ambushed on a steamboat,
he's sent on journey to discover his true past. While this
setup reeks of the standard videogame plot devices, the way
the story is delivered and given to the player is done well
and really pulls you into the Western setting. The story-oriented
main missions give the player some nice character interactions
and more than a few sensible plot decisions.
The game opens with a pretty extensive tutorial on the gun
combat, which is nice as you'll need a good idea of what you're
doing just to survive. Control is done with the two analog
sticks and you can swap weapons with the Circle Button. To
draw your weapon, tap the R1 Button and then hit it again
to fire the equipped weapon. The X Button will let you jump
and the Triangle Button gets you on and off your horse. Once
on the horse, you can use the L2 to spur the horse or gallop,
but be weary as the horse's stamina will drain if you ride
it to hard. Unlike Shadow of the Colossus, the horse controls
for Gun are more like your standard third person controls,
so moving from on foot to on horse does take any readjustment.
The L1 Button lets you use thrown weapons and you can pull
of melee attacks with your knife with the Square Button. Players
also have the ability to crouch, scalp dying enemies and grab
and subdue enemies as they please.
One of the more important elements of the gun play is the
Quickdraw. R2 will put you into Quickdraw mode, where time
slows down and you go into first person perspective. In this
mode, you can use the analog stick to quickly switch between
enemies, allowing you take kill multiple opponents in a short
amount of time. While in Quickdraw mode, a gauge will drain
and once emptied, you have to let it refill before using it
again. This keeps you from abusing the hell out of the Quickdraw
system, which would make the gun combat way too easy. One
of the nicer touches found in the gun combat is that you can
pull off all sorts of actions seen in Western flicks, including
shooting the gun out of your opponent's hand or even shoot
them while they're taking a hostage. I also liked that you
could actually use your horse to trample opponents.
The story missions, while based around shooting opponents,
tosses enough scenarios as to keep things interesting. At
one point, you'll be trying to rescue someone to the next
moment having to stop thugs from burning down a building.
Then, you'll have to play the protection gig as you keep Chinese
workers safe from a Native American raid. And just to switch
things up, from time to time, you'll have to show how good
you are with your guns, as with the mission where you have
to shoot down fire arrows to keep the TNT from blowing up
While you have a pretty well defined path to continue through
the main story missions, you do have access to various side
missions which earn you money and powerups. At your disposal
is the ability to make deliveries for the Pony Express, hunt
for wanted criminals, play Poker, go hunting, or just play
like your the law. These side quests serve to give more life
to the gamer's experience and while they aren't required,
you'll more than likely find the diversion more than fun enough
to warrant spending some time on most or all of them. When
not in a main story mission, you often have free roam of the
towns and eventually the whole map. If you decide to start
a fight in town, the town patience meter depletes and once
it's empty, the local posse comes a shooting for you.
Some of the side missions, like acting as deputy or hunting
wanted criminals often just boils down to going to a location
and shooting someone. Of course, the stat bonuses and money
you earn makes this worth the small time and effort it takes.
Poker, on the other hand, is a fun diversion, especially if
you enjoy watching or playing in Poker Tournaments. The fact
that you can actually cheat at the game gives it as bit of
strategy. When you're in the wilderness, you'll find other
sidemissions to perform, like mining for gold or hunting animals.
Graphically, Gun is one of those games that looks
great for the most part, but does have a few rough edges that
keep it from being in the same class as, say, Resident
Evil 4 or Ninja Gaiden.
The character models are designed well, show off a good bit
of detail and have some excellent animation, but they also
have some rough edges. The main story characters all show
a good bit of personality and detail, especially in the cutscenes.
The more boring NPCs still look fine and do well to fill out
the scenery. There's a good bit of light bloom (or a similar
effect) used to make the whole gameworld seems a lot brighter
and by extension a lot less rough in places. The landscape
is likewise nicely done, but features some low res textures
and can be a bit blocky at time. With that said, though, once
you get free run of the gameworld, you'll get to see some
nice looking areas and you'll be surprised by the size and
fact that no loading screens break up the flow. I would say
that in comparison to their Tony Hawk efforts, Gun
is a nice step up on all fronts. Gun definitely shows
some signs of Tony Hawk in the menu interface of the
game save system. Outside of that, though, Neversoft had done
a pretty good job of divorcing itself from it's bread and
butter series. I didn't get a chance to play it, but I have
to wonder how this game looks on the Xbox 360 as I imagine
the higher resolution textures and lighting/visual effects
would probably really polish off the graphics package nicely.
When it comes to voice cast, Neversoft has spared no expense,
including the likes of Thomas Jane, Lance Henriksen, Brad
Dourif, Ron Perlman and Kris Kristofferson. And, unlike most
"big name" casts, the voice work is delivered well and fits
just fine into the core of the story. You won't suffer any
flat performances that just stand out like a sore thumb. The
music is suitably well done and fits the theme well without
being obviously Western. There are some pretty dramatic themes
thrown in to set the tone, but a few Western standards show
up just for the sake of mood. Sound effects are pretty sharp
and do the job at giving a solid realism to the events that
happen during the game. There's a certain bit of pleasure
found in the sound of a bullet knocking a gun out of an opponent's
hand and Gun does a good job at inserting just enough
arcade-like effects to make the experience enjoyable.
If there's anything that's a true detriment to Gun
is that it's pretty short. The main story can be finished
in a manner of a few hours. If you have little interest in
side missions, you can blow through the game in a rental.
Also, the save menu really needs to be optimized as I felt
I spent way too much time getting into the save menu and then
saving my progress. Outside of that, I felt the HUD was a
little cramped from time to time.
If you love Westerns, then Gun is the game for you.
Neversoft has managed to prove they aren't a one trick pony
and I can only hope that they continue this series so they
can extend the gameplay and make a longer experience. The
story and gameplay of Gun is quite an enjoyable action
experience that fans of the genre should be sure to try out.