The great western shootout has been the subject of countless movies and novels. But, until recently, has really been ignored in the video game arena. Last year we were treated to Rockstar’s Red Dead Revolver, which was a solid, albeit a shallow game. This year Activision and Neversoft (of Tony Hawk fame) jump into the fray with the simply and aptly titled Gun.The best part of a true western is a great story, and Gun delivers. The story revolves around Colton White, a hunter/trapper hanging with his father, Ned. After a shootout on a steamboat claims Ned’s life, Colton’s world is turned upside down and Gun’s amazing story begins to unfold. Neversoft knocked on Hollywood’s door and came up with some familiar voices for some of the characters, which include Thomas Jane, Ron Pearlman, Lance Hendrickson and more. The voice acting is superb and helps make Gun’s fantastic story even better. If you don’t enjoy the game play of a shooter, then you just may want to fight through it just to find out what happens. It was quite apparent that the story was one of the highest priorities during the development of this game.
Along with the great voice acting, a fantastic score has been added to enhance the game play experience. The score is extremely well done and does not get repetitive and helps set the mood for the game. The other sound effects of the game are also well done, including the different weapon blasts and explosives. Graphically the game is adequate. The attention to detail on the main characters is quite well done, while some of the side characters have a tendency to all look alike. The landscapes and environments are nice, but not outstanding.
Gun’s game play is a semi-open environment where you can ride around and check out the sights and sounds of the Old West. The game is mission based which is not new by any means, but extremely effective. The mission variety is impressive, and none of the missions became tedious. They range from straight forward shooting, to escorting a stage, and even a little bit of stealth. The controls are very tight and play very well except for one area, which is impressive considering you will use EVERY button on the controller regularly. One of Gun’s highlights is the “Quick Draw” mode. Your character is so fast with his 6-gun, that the world slows down, allowing you to pick off several bad guys before they have a chance to hit you back. During this mode, controlling your aim is a bit erratic but the game compensates with an auto target function that makes controlling the action a breeze. A good portion of the game is done on horseback, which is a ton of fun. Control of the horse is spot on which lets you concentrate on other things, like gunning down or trampling bandits. There are a variety of side missions that you can complete to gain money and improve your stats. With that money, you can buy the standard power ups for your weapons. Speaking of weapons, as the game progresses, you get access to a variety of weapons to use, from a hunting bow to “Loco Dynamite” arrows, all of which you need to utilize to beat the game. The difficulty level is medium to low on the default settings, except for the boss fights, which can be a real pain until you figure out the best way to handle them.
The length of the game is a bit on the short side. If you follow the story missions without doing any side quests, you can probably finish it in 8 hours or less. It’s not tremendously short, but with everything going for it, I just wanted more. Also, the game isn’t really as free roaming as I would like. Yes, you can jump on your horse and ride around the map, but there’s really nothing to do or see. I guess I am spoiled by games like GTA or even RPGs, where there is always something to do or people to talk to. The flavor of the game is great, but the developers pushed the “M” rating to the limit. If I have ever seen a game deserve that rating, it’s this one. Gun may be one of the most violent games I have ever played. From the intro, the designers let you know what this game is all about. It is not uncommon to explode people’s heads and dismember them in “Quick Draw” mode. When you get into melee combat, blood shoots out of the people like a geyser, staining the walls and surroundings. There are a couple of cut scenes that I actually could not believe what they showed - decapitations, throat slitting, etc. It was truly pushing the boundaries, and I, being a fairly liberal guy, would not let my child near this game until he was in his late teens. But with the violence comes some pretty funny adult humor. The story that Soapy tells is down right unbelievable, as well as some of the songs the cowboys sing. The game is riddled with language and non-PC talk, thus mimicking the Old West. If you might be offended by such things, then Gun is not the game for you.
Gun is everything it claims to be, a gritty and violent western shooter. But as well as this, it delivers probably one of the greatest stories that a video game has ever tried. The sounds and voice acting are superb, and the game play and controls work well enough to not detract from the fun. Graphically, the game could have been a little better as well. The game does suffer from lack of replay value and its length is on the short side, but, overall, Gun is an experience that should not be missed…if you can handle it.
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