GUN Showdown ReviewCain Dornan
Porting console titles onto the PSP is becoming a growing trend, with developer Neversoft being the latest to send their somewhat unique creation, a wild west-themed third person shooter, to the PSP. With developer Rebellion working on the port, the game has received some small new inclusions and a handful of minor tweaks, which aim to make the game more suitable for the portable crowd. While the game looks great and plays well, the niggling control problems created by the PSP hardware limitations can cause for some uncomfortable and frustrating gameplay. Overall, though, the game offers a solid package that is a worthwhile experience for those unable of playing the previously released console versions.
GUN Showdown features the same storyline offered in the console originals, which sees players taking on the role of Colton White; a young adult brought up in the wilderness by Ned, a man he long believed was his father. Hunting game that they then sell to the traveling steamboats, the opening portions of the game are spent introducing you to the basics. Youre taught how to shoot, aim and make use of the Quick Draw feature, which sees the surroundings around you slowing down for a short period of time while you aim and shoot freely with your pistol. You soon find yourself aboard one of the traveling steam boats with Ned, who busies himself checking a safe with a mysterious woman. The steamboat is soon attacked, with the ravagers killing the boats captain and all of its crew members. With the boats boilers ready to explode, Ned tells you that he isnt your father, and gives you a mysterious metal token and instructs you to make your way to a nearby town. Throwing you overboard, you only have enough time to surface before the boats boilers explode, knocking out Colton and killing Ned.
With the last instructions from Ned firmly stuck in your mind, you make your way towards the nearby town, ultimately beginning your epic question of brutality, betrayal and discovery as you team up with a variety of different personalities to help deliver justice, protect the innocent and discover the string of lies that surrounded Ned and the reason for his death.
While not an overly long game, the storyline skips and jumps from place to place; not in a convulsed, confusing manner, rather, in a way that keeps the storyline interesting from start to finish. You want to keep playing, you want to find out what has happened, who was involved. You want to learn what becomes of the people that you meet. As well as the main story, theres also a variety of side missions to take part in, which offer money and increased abilities as payment for your efforts. Youll do everything from protecting horse-drawn carriages through to hunting game for money, through to hunting down wanted criminals or carrying a message from Point A to Point B. Many of the side missions are pretty similar, with the occasional unique one helping to keep things interesting.
The game offers a fairly vast, open world, most of which is filled with your typical empty, barren desert wilderness. There are several different townships that youll pass through during the course of the game, most of which appear to lack activity with virtually no-one on the streets to give it any sense of being alive. While theres plenty of game world to explore, theres no real incentive to, as theres a significant lack of anything interesting to see. All you are likely to find is some dirt, a mountain range or a group of enemies.
New additions to the game include a collection of Quick Play mini games, which range from a game of Texas Hold em poker through to hunting quail, which once completed, opens up various new Quick Play games that require you to pass each new one in order to open additional games. There isnt too much variety in these games, with most just requiring you to shoot a certain number of animals or people within the time limit.
Theres also the inclusion of the new multiplayer mode, which offers multiplayer gameplay over the wireless link-up for up to six players. Theres straight-up deathmatch, as well as the Golden Cross game essentially a keepers-off game that sees players fighting to hold a golden cross. The player who manages to hold it for the longest wins. If neither of these game modes interest you, can also verse your friends in a game of poker.
While these new additions are a nice touch, theyre hardly significant. Its unlikely youll find much lifespan in the multiplayer mode, even if you manage to round up a few friends with a copy. The Quick Play isnt overly exciting, but is a nice addition if you only have a few minutes of gaming time to spare. As such, a purchase is only really worthwhile if youre yet to play through the game with one of the console versions, given that the storyline single player is the main attraction, and it is virtually identical to its console brothers.
The main problem that plagues GUN Showdown is its controls. While its clear the developers have tried to work within the boundaries of the PSPs limiting control scheme, and have came up with possibly the best feasible solution, they still dont work as well as one would want them to. Moving Coltons aim with the buttons is ineffective and clunky; youll spend far too long trying to target enemies with the ineffective control scheme. While this can be swapped so that movement is mapped to the face buttons and sight to the analogue stick, which can make aiming a tad bit easier, the game still doesnt control too well. Overall, though, the controls are really the only disappointing thing about the game, with the rest equaling the same quality and grandeur as the console versions.
The games presentation, both graphics and sound, are quite impressive. While not system-pushing, the voice acting for in-game and cutscene dialogue is great, with the great collection of western-style country music is fitting to the games basis. The graphics offer some solid detail in the character models, although, the environments can get a tad bland and boring although, this same problem was suffered with the console versions.
If youre a portable gamer and yet to experience GUN on the consoles, GUN Showdown is a worthwhile investment if youre willing to look past the clunky controls. While it doesnt offer the longest story out there, as a portable title, theres a fair bit to do here, which should keep most gamers interested for about 10 hours. With the lack of shooters on the PSP, GUN Showdown is worth a look.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.