Welcome to the action adventure game Gun. Where whiskey is your water, and your six-gun is the law. You are Colton White, a young buck who has been shown the hard ways of the Wild West by your dad, Ned. Gun takes place in the post-Civil War era of 1880 Montana, and a mystery about your past starts to unfold. The story will take you down through Kansas, and all the way to New Mexico as well.
The story starts with you learning how to hunt quail and elk from your father, Ned White. The tutorial gets you acquainted with the game while at the same time shaping the story that will soon come to shock you in a Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker kind of way.
After saving you father from a wild bear attack you arrive at a steamboat, and the story starts to unravel. Ned has been very open with you to this point until he has a meeting with a prostitute, and slams the door on you face keeping the details shrouded in mystery. Along comes a wicked preacher, who appears to be anything but a man of the cloth, and the first battle begins. Strap your boots on; you’re about to experience the Wild West like you have never seen before in a video game.
The landscape of Gun is beautiful, and really does a great job of capturing the naked Wild West. You feel this as you ride your painted horse through the canyons and along the trails. They did a great job of capturing the ruggedness of the terrain. The animals look very good, and have lots of detail like their fur and the motion of their tails. Their eyes and teeth are also very pronounced. All of the character and animal animations are awesome as they employed rag doll physics to accomplish the life-like gestures and deaths.
The explosions, gunfire, and flaming arrows are another area where the graphics shine. There is one scene where fire starts to engulf the saloon/gambling house. The flames crackle and dance about the room as man after man enters with blazing torches. Setting off TNT provides a nice blast of red and orange as well as the soot and debris that would typically follow a blast of such magnitude.
One of the coolest things I experienced is when I had to gallop at high speed to keep up with a few bounty hunters, and the dust actually clouded my vision a bit and colored everything a slight shade of brown.
The cut-scenes were magnificent. Some were done in cgi and some in the same rendering that the game used. Both styles brought a great amount of detail to the clothing and facial distinctions of all the different characters. The western theme was brought out with rustic old buildings made of clapboard and dusty, dank towns.
Dynamic lighting was used to show off the shadows of moving objects like lanterns swaying on a hook in a backdrop of a burning building. All of these features showed off great graphics, but even with advanced graphics turned on and everything on high the in game scenes and characters had some jagged lines to them, and I experienced frequent stalls as the game loaded another area. The game is touted as being seamless, and it is, but a seamless world should not have periods of where the game “chugs” for a few moments. My review system has a BFG 6800 GT with 256 MBs of RAM, and the rest of the machine is no slouch either.
Hollywood screenwriter, Randall Jahnson (Mask of Zorro, The Doors, and Sunset Strip), wrote the storyline for Gun. Why do I mention that here? You can’t tell a great story without a great cast. The voice acting for Gun is top notch, and what you would expect to see in a great western movie. Kris Kristofferson plays your dad, Ned White, and I couldn’t think of a better person to do it. Mr. Kristofferson does an outstanding job acting as your father and added that Western edge. Lance Henriksen and Brad Dourif, rounded out the rest of the cast and Thomas Jane plays your character, Colton White.
Guns blazing, TNT and dynamite explosions, Apache Indians’ war cries, and thundering horses are all enhanced by the awesome sound effects that accompany them. Flaming arrows make a “swoosh and crackle” noise as they arc towards their target and the different guns all have unique sound effects.
The music was nicely tied to the different characters you run into. For instance, when you meet Native Americans their music plays in the background. When an evildoer like the Reverend/Preacher named Reed appears you get demonic or “bad guy” type background music. Of course there are many Western themed songs that are familiar in most Clint Eastwood Westerns. This helps to enrich the characters you meet.
The controls are precise and Beenox (the company responsible for the PC port) did a great job of translating them from the console to the PC version. Gun uses the all too familiar WASD format for controlling movement whether you are on foot or on a horse. There is the other compliment of presets such as spacebar for jump, leaning with “Q” and “E”, as well as a cool roll technique that is performed by a double-tap of the shift key.
When on a horse you can jump and spur to gain speed and overcome small obstacles as well as use the right mouse button to power slide or trample your opponents into the dirt. You can mount and dismount your horse with the “F” key. There are some special actions you can perform like scalping, which serves no real purpose other than to be brutal, and grabbing your opponents to use as a bullet sponge. You can even execute your hostage by using the right mouse button.
Helping people to take a dirt nap is as easy as clicking your left mouse key. A cool feature in the game, ala Max Payne Bullet Time, is Quickdraw mode. Quickdraw mode allows you to slow things down a bit and lets you line up those one-shot kills like headshots. It is also useful to shoot down incoming flaming arrows. You can reload and holster your weapons with a simple keystroke, and access to your weapons is exactly like any FPS setup you have seen. You can even charge thrown weapons or objects by holding down the “V” key. Charging them allows the weapons or objects to travel greater distances.
Naturally, Gun offers the complete ability to customize your settings and also has gamepad configurations if you like using one better than keyboard and mouse. Gun supports feedback gamepads as well. I didn’t have any issues using the default setup, as I was able to accomplish and learn all the in-game techniques rather quickly.
The brilliant storyline is brought together with some outstanding gameplay. From the very moment I started to play I loved the game. There are so many cool things to do in this game, and most of it is tied to the story. The “Duck Hunt” type hunting action and tutorial was great fun.
There are many “OK Coral shoot-em ups” that will remind you of Wyatt Earp or Young Guns movies. The weapons you get to choose from are authentic to the period. There are the repeater rifles, six-shot wheel guns, Gatling guns, dynamite, bows, and hatchets available to help you get your point across. As you accomplish tasks and missions you get money to upgrade your weapons with quick loaders to speed up reload times and chamber/barrel boring for more damage.
Riding a horse couldn’t be cooler. Neversoft and Beenox did a great job of capturing the lifelike motions of you and your trusty steed. There are plenty of horses around as well. It’s a good thing because you can kill your horse by spurring too much. I got to tell you though I just couldn’t bring myself to kill my horse. A helpful horse health meter let me know if I got too close to killing my faithful companion. Fighting while mounted is just as cool. You can fire your weapon in any direction including backwards. The horse trample is friggin awesome. Being able to run down those dastardly outlaws was way too much fun, and a great way to save your ammo.
If you find yourself getting shot up to badly take a shot of that whiskey and you are all better. I ask you, what could be more macho than healing yourself with a swig off your flask? The key is to try to avoid damage in the first place as it only messes up your duds. Gun allows you to effectively use cover to shield yourself from hot lead, but the outlaws can use it to their advantage as well. The AI for the outlaws is pretty good but not of F.E.A.R. caliber.
A heads up to parents out there that if you wouldn’t let your kids watch HBO’s Deadwood, then I wouldn’t let them play Gun either. Gun is filled with the brutality of the old west including scalping, blowing people’s heads off, cussing, and your girlfriend is a whore. The game is true to its slogan, “experience the brutality, greed, and lust that was the West.”
Gun is very short, but can be extended by playing the bevy, albeit repetitive, of side missions that exist. Side missions include Pony Express runs, ranching, bounty hunting, mining, poker, keep the peace, hunting, and rescue missions. I liked the bounty hunter missions like going after Chavez y Chavez, and then getting double-crossed and having to kill the bounty hunters instead. Ranching and the Pony Express runs offered a novelty flavor that was unlike most games. Mining and Texas Hold-em poker games were fun and they even try to bluff you, but you have a card up your sleeve! The main purpose to these activities is to earn some coin so that you can enhance your weapons to do more damage or reload faster.
Even with all the side missions I was able to beat the game on normal level in 11 hours. There is no multiplayer, which I would have liked to see. How cool would it have been to play Cowboys and Indians death match on horseback?
Be that as it may, in a world where you can throw a rock and hit a WWII FPS, GUN is a refreshing title to play. If you have the ability to play it on a console it should be a definite rental.