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Looking back over videogame history the Western has been woefully represented with some shockingly bad games and a general lack of titles on any platform. With the prospect of the genre seeing a mini-revival over the next few months I went back and found a few gems that had somehow slipped under my radar.
Gun was a multiplatform game that came out on the 360 at launch and was widely derided as a buggy and short experience that didnít justify its place on a next-gen console. But looking past its ancient graphics I was happy to find a gritty and brutal game that didnít shy away from showing the Old West as it was.
The first few moments with GUN were spent getting to grips with the controls by hunting buffalo and fending off wolves and bears. Itís a wonderfully down-to-earth way of introducing the characters and starts the game off with a logical beginning. Although the visuals are the same as the PS2 version the voice acting in this game canít be commended enough. Itís all well and good having big name stars to voice characters but more often than not they come across as wooden as deadwood. Kris Kristofferson, Lance Henrikson and Brad Dourif earn their paychecks with aplomb and give this game some unique character and weight.
Although the storyline has its share of overblown moments it displays a ruthless and honest streak when it comes to issues like racism and misogyny. The old west was a harsh and nasty place and itís good to see GUN attempting to show this with its story. Native Americans, the Chinese and woman in general are all portrayed as they would have been back in the 1880ís. One scene in particular made me audibly gasp as a potential love-interest had her throat cut explicitly in front of me. Whereas most other games would tread the more clichťd road, GUN just shows what would be more likely.
Although the storyline has its share of overblown moments it displays a ruthless and honest streak when it comes to issues like racism and misogyny.
This attitude runs through the plot from beginning to end, showing the protagonists journey from wild hunter man to bitter revenge seeker at the conclusion. Although various parts of the plot, including Coleís heritage, get a little wacky it suits the game entirely. The bullet-time fits into this as well and lets you blaze away in slow-mo with unlimited ammo as long as the gauge lasts. I bet Clint Eastwood wouldíve liked that.
Although itís a short experience at around 5-6 hours, it means the plot gets to move a lot quicker than other games. Sustaining a storyline for longer than that would have weakened it. Thatís not to say it feels like a finished game as there a few sections where the narrative lurches forward a little quicker than perhaps it should. These missing sections donít do too much damage to the game but it does feel a little incomplete at times.
To counteract this there are side-missions and theyíre essential to raise your stats as the game gets dramatically more difficult towards its conclusion. Itís a shame that these missions donít vary enough as the world of GUN feels very coherent and flows together nicely. Itís not on par with GTAís level of open-world fun but it offers a glimpse as to what could have been if the game had been given more time.
The problems I ran into were always to do with boss fights. Some of these were so irritating that I had to admit defeat and search for guide - something I always hate doing. These fights were nearly always subject to bugs or glitches, another symptom of the rushed development.
None of these complaints can take away my overall enjoyment of the game. It might be a buggy mess and look nothing more than a straight PS2 port, but itís full of fun and tells an interesting story thatís well worth experiencing.
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