Written : Monday, March 10, 2008
By: Russ Bondi (GT: Tussell)
We all know the fame brought about when Neversoft first introduced Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. The question was, can they do anything else? When most think of Neversoft, they immediately think Tony Hawk! Tackling the 'western shooter' genre would be the last thing you'd imagine from them. It's something very hard to pull off in the first place, as there is only a handful of good western games, luckily Gun ends up among the best.
Gun follows a very familiar storyline when dealing with the whole 'wild wild west' scheme, while at the same time it definitely seems to glorify everything about it. The campaign itself can be finished within about seven hours. If you decide to follow the side missions, you'll find that an extra two to three hours will be added. The world itself is quite small, but you'll find yourself doing something every moment. Whether it be playing alongside fellow gunslingers in a poker tournament or seeing what's in store for Colton White, there's always something to do. The game feels like a true Clint Eastwood film.
In Gun, you follow in the foot steps of Colton White, a cowboy who must find his true identity while at the same time avenging his adoptive father Ned. The game begins with Colton and Ned. The father is teaching his son, Colton a variety of things, introducing a little tutorial in a naturally smooth way. The action picks up when you both board a riverboat, in which you learn that Ned isn't your father. This is where the plot picks up more. Colton is confused as to who he is, now knowing he was adopted. While the plot unfolds, you'll complete a number of linear missions. Soon you'll be provided with a number of side-missions, which ultimately opens up the world beyond Dodge City. All the side-missions really add to the look and feel of the old west. They may not make an impact to the story, but they're not going to distract from what makes Gun what it is. The side missions include, but are not limited to: hunting, participating in poker tournaments, or finding a wanted man, you'll feel like one mean cowboy! Luckily, once the game is beaten, you're not left to restart. You can always go back and finish something, such as being a prospector. However, once you've fully completed the game, the want to go back and play again is definitely there. Due to the lack of Western style games, Gun is something that many action lovers and/or western lovers will want to go back to.
"I want your blood. And I want your souls. And I want them both right now!"
Gun doesn't have any multiplayer options. With my experience in western games that have online capabilities, such as Call of Juarez, they're usually very weak. The lack of any multiplayer option in Gun is probably one of the best things about it, allowing for no distractions and calls for there to only be attention to the great campaign featured
The physics featured in Gun are definitely above average. This combined with the use of lifelike animations really help add to the entire presentation. Many of the explosions that become more and more common later in the story are detailed and realistic. The explosions cause nearby characters, include Colton, to get tossed away from the blast.
Graphically there’s nothing great to say, nor is there anything to put the game to shame. Various lighting tweaks help decipher between day and night. Other touches such as wild animals, and the ever famous tumbleweeds flourish to help make Gun a little more realistic, though the simple environments, blurry textures, and various blocky object definitely drag it down.
Thankfully the game's audio is great, mainly due to a great Hollywood all-star cast. Thomas Jane (61*) plays main character Colton White, and the main villains, played by Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead) and Brad Dourif (Child's Play), help to add to the wickedness and grueling attitudes that can only be found in the West. The music luckily goes towards something other than the cliché spaghetti western that you'll find in many western related things. It's much more of a heroic, strong, almost epic touch, which in the end, is lived up to. Aside from that things such as, galloping horse hooves, wild animals, gunshots, and the cliché sounds familiar to the Wild West are more than accurate, though are not as epic as anything found in the voice overs.
"I'm your huckleberry..."
The voice over work on the character really adds to the personal feelings towards the characters. With unrealistic voice work it's hard to have feelings towards the characters, but the characters in Gun are given phenomenal voice. That being said, I don't think there's as much attachment to the characters as there is hatred. It's not that you feel for Colton or anyone, it's more that you feel angered or aggravated at the enemies. With their truly grueling voices and attitude, you yourself want them dead more than anything. Once you finally kill the ones you hate, you'll get a real feel of accomplishment as they say their final words.
When dealing with the controls in Gun, there's nothing that will confuse or distract the player from getting the job done. The general feel for the controls can be picked up within the first missions that are presented. Everything is pretty normal. Right trigger shoot, left stick move, right stick look, a jump, etc. The only thing that may be awkward is the use of the d-pad which isn't used in many of todays games. Holstering, using the your flask, and leaning are all used quite a lot in the game, and are all located on the d-pad. Controlling the horse on the other hand can just get plain annoying. Aside from the normal controls which are very much the same on and off the horse, controlling direction is where you'll find annoyance. Depending on how smooth you can direct him, depends on how irritated you will get. Trying to turn the horse around or backing the horse up when in a small spot can get quite difficult, and turning it around sharply and quickly isn't quite so easy of a task.
The game is played in the third-person, but different modes will put the player in different views such as quick-draw putting the player in the first-person. Each different view, as hard as it sounds to believe, truly adds to the feeling of epic game play. When in first-person and experience the quick draw feature you feel the intensity of the face shot as they begin to slowly demount their horse and hit the ground. When in third-person, you're able to appreciate everything about your current objective. It's beautiful either way.
"Fight's commenced! Get to fightin' or get away!"
This leaves us with the achievements. To play this game solely for achievements is, for lack of a better term, shameful. That isn't to say that the achievements aren't easy and fun. Many of Gun's achievements can easily be attained by giving it a once through. That being said, you can easily get them all if you plan on replaying the game. More than half of the achievements can be gotten without going too far out of you way. The most annoying of achievements will either be prospecting gold and/or going to harder difficulties. It's apparent that not too much thought was put into the achievements due to their story-like nature, and minimal work needed.
In conclusion, Gun is definitely the best western game on the market these days, and gives Neversoft something more to brag about than just their skating games. Whether you're looking for easy achievements, a great story, or are a sucker for anything with a western style, there's something for everyone. Strap on your boots, saddle your horse, and ride into the best environment in western style games, and play the epic story of revenge, that is Gun.
With the great all-star voice acting and the passable sound effects, Gun delivers wonderful audio.
Not as great as any of the titles we've seen on the 360 to date. More than passable, but are nothing worth drooling over.
Controls off-horse are easy, though on-horse, a bit more difficult. There should be no issue in replaying the game once you've beaten everything.
Game menus are easy to navigate. Though there is no multiplayer, this game should not be passed up. The story line and environment is presented so well, it's astounding.
The majority of the achievements can be picked up with a once through without really trying too hard. The side missions are easy points and so are the story line achievements. Great variety of single player achievements.
The game delivers a great story, includes great achievements, and a wonderful all-star cast of actors to bring the wild west in your rooms. Gun is definitely the best western game on the 360 to date, and the best western game to hit shelves in a long time. Definitely not a game to pass up, it's great for anyone.