GUN ReviewCain Dornan
After spending so many years working on the regular stream of Tony Hawk skateboarding games, Neversofts announcement of their promising Wild West shooter certainly captured the interest of many. Combing large, free roaming worlds with tight, action-packed missions, GUN proves to be a worthwhile and enjoyable title in its own right. That said, the game also suffers from a number of problems that hinder the level of enjoyment that can be gained, largely due to the short lifespan and excessively fast-paced storyline that doesnt expand on enough elements of the game. Furthermore, the Xbox 360 port of the game has arrived with very limited increase in graphical prowess, offering little reason to boot a higher retail price to purchase a version that is barely any different from the one that can be found on the PS2, Xbox and GameCube.
GUN follows the misadventures of Colton White; a man who has lived his entire life out in the Wild, Wild West, hunting animals for a living alongside his apparent father, Ned. The game opens with a relatively short tutorial that teaches you the basics of the game, namely the shooting aspects, with Ned guiding you through the wilderness as you hunt animals that serve as you learning tools on how to shoot. After coming to terms with the games controls, you are thrown on board of a large steamboat, where both Ned and yourself sell your animal skins to make a living. Beginning Coltons long-line of unluck, the boat is soon attacked by savages. With only enough time to hand a silver circular object to Colton and telling him that he isnt his father, Ned throws Colton overboard, just as the steamboat bursts into pieces, killing everyone on board, including Ned.
Washing ashore and awaking several days later, you begin your quest of hunting down the murders behind Neds death. You make your way to a nearby settlement, known as Dodge City, where you begin your shortlived quest of violence, murder, greed and unfortunate events.
The Xbox 360 version of GUN is identical to the previous-generation version gameplay wise. While there has been a slight increase in the graphical quality, namely the environments, the game remains to look very much like its PS2, Xbox and GameCube brothers. When played in full high-definition on the Xbox 360, the various graphical flaws which are mostly apparent in the character models immediately become noticeable, with jagged and detail-lacking characters forming a disappointingly average-looking title. Like the developers other Xbox 360-ported game, Tony Hawks American Wasteland, Neversoft has chosen to spend very little time in optimizing the game for the powerful Xbox 360, which is certainly capable of producing visuals substantially better than what is on offer here. Its disappointing, as a game that looked great on the previous gen consoles has now become rather ugly when compared to other titles that are currently available on the Xbox 360.
Nevertheless, if you are not worried about any graphical improvements over the previous versions, and are still prepared to pay a slightly higher price for a version that is virtually identical to one that you can pick up at a lower price, GUNs gameplay and story is a fun and compelling experience. There is always something happening, with the game seeing you performing a wide range of different activities. At one point, you are tasked with protecting a large horse-driven cart from attack by the Apaches, which sees you riding alongside the cart on horseback. At other times, youll find yourself sneaking around an enemy base, or gathering enough TNT to blow a hole in a towns jail. Its a nice collection of varied missions that keep your interest from start to finish. The only problems that hinder the experience is that there simply arent enough core storyline missions, and the speed in which the story moves along at is far too fast. The game spends little time in building up history behind characters or events that occur, preferring to instead rush through every occurrence without taking the time to completely explain what is happening or delve deeper into events and characters.
There are also optional side missions outside of the core string of story-driven missions, but these offer little reason to complete. While they do offer stat increasing offers to complete each one, youll find that the majority of these side missions are the same. When you arent rounding up a herd of cows for the local ranch or taking an object from person to person on horseback, youll usually find yourself doing little more than simply locating a wanted criminal and then either shooting them or arresting them. As you can imagine, this grows tiring after performing it three or four times, making it a real strain to complete all of the side missions on offer. The end result is a game that only really last around six hours in length, which is far from a lengthy experience.
The games controls can occasionally become confusing and disorientating. While you can easily switch to your pistol by simply tapping the B button on the Xbox 360 controller, selecting which rifle you wish to use is more of a confusing operation. You need to hold down the B button and then push the corresponding direction button on the controllers pad, which is confusing and frustrating when you are being pumped full of lead whilst in a firefight. While most of the game is presented in a third person view, you can quickly switch into a first person aiming view, which can be done by pushing down on the right analogue stick which brings your rifle up to aim, or tapping the right shoulder button which brings you into the Quick Draw aiming mode. Here, time is made slower, allowing you to pick off enemies easier with your pistol.
One of the clear shining aspects of GUN is the sound department, which offers a mixture of classic, Wild West music with great voice acting and sound effects. Each character offers a unique voice that slots in perfectly with their personality. Some great sound effects, including gun shots, explosions and footsteps are present, which is further backed with an authentic selecting of music that really supports the Wild West theme. Unfortunately, the music sometimes becomes too loud to her the voices of others, even when you play around with the limited sound options.
GUN is a solid recreation of the Wild West that only suffers from some minor gameplay flaws and an overall short lifespan. It is also disappointing that Neversoft chose to not bump the quality and detail of the graphics up further, as the Xbox 360 hardware is capable of producing superior visuals than what is on offer in GUN. If you are looking for a gritty Wild West themed shooter, GUN is a worthwhile look, even if only as a rental.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.