Game Review: Gun

by Pat Johnson

When my parents were my age, Westerns where the big thing. They were the reality shows of the 60's. Only people weren't total assholes and you didn't feel like a voyeur while watching miss Kitty walk around in bedroom attire. But, with the release of Gun, we have the western world thrust into the digital domain complete with skuzzy bandits, wild wolves and blazing six-shooters. Some gamers with remember Rockstar's earlier attempt to do westerns with Red Dead Revolver which was a noble effort. The game was a story of revenge with an arcade style gameplay that placed an emphasis on slow motion quick drawing. Now with Gun we have another story of revenge and another focus on slow motion quick drawing. Thank the flying spaghetti monster we're finally getting something different.

That being said, Gun is a significant improvement over Red Dead. Gone are the level based maps where you only can wander around the western world while staying within the city limits. In Gun, you can hop on a horse and ride all over tarnation. The world isn't anywhere near as large as any GTA games, but you also can't move as fast either. The effort to create a world is truly appreciated, as it's very satisfying to pick a fight in town, then getting the hell out of dodge before the gathering posse can shoot you down. But I didn't bother with much of that until I finished off the core story of the game (later, I was compelled to get 100% completion, which should tell you plenty).

I found this particular story of revenge to be very well done and it cultivated a borderline addiction that lasted through the weekend I rented it. If there was a drawback, it was a little short. The game made many efforts to immerse you in the world, but it was not difficult to finish them off quickly. Even the side missions of tracking down wanted criminals, playing in poker tournaments, and making deliveries with the pony express never took more than 20 minutes a pop. In total the side missions added an extra 5 hours to the 8 hour game, but once you're done with everything, all you can do is pick fights and ride around. Sadly, the lack of replay was all that kept this game from being an instant buy.

The graphics are great, and on more than one occasion I was struck by the beauty of my surroundings. And the musical score that is reminiscent of Dances with Wolves terrifically compliments your scenic views. Gameplay is fast and very satisfying. From firing slow motion six-shooters to chucking dynamite at attacking wolves, I was never bored. Well, except when I had to ride across the map to do something just because there was nothing to do where I was. But as I said, the world isn't that big and forcing me to ride around lead to the appreciation of the landscaping graphics. So, rah rah silver lining. Gun absolutely captures the essence of old pulp Westerns. No sequin shirts and not-quite-fatal wounds for friends. This is a Western game with a John Wayne landscape but an Unforgiven edge. It may not appeal to some gamers, but if you don't find some value it, well, I reckin' you might be due for a hangin'. Darn tootin'!.