Reviewed: November 19, 2005
Released: November 8, 2005
Yeeehawww, finally someone has made a wild west shooter that captures the grit and epic feel of a western movie. Neversoft, famous for their Tony Hawk games, has developed a first/third person shooting game that offers a substantial amount of freedom and a compelling storyline. So climb on up into the saddle and get ready to ride, and we'll give you the low down on this here fine game called GUN.
In GUN you play the role of Colton White, one of the best gunfighters in the old west. The game starts you off with Colton and his paw Ned off a hunting for some wild game to trade with the steamboats for supplies. Ned shows you the ropes of how all the controls work. Once you get on the steamboat the game and the story start in earnest with a bang, but I don't want to spoil anything for you. Lets just say that Colton gets involved with a plot that involves raving indians, crazed psycho preachers, outlaws, and of course, the evil mastermind railroad baron.
The default controls for GUN aren't quite "standard" for a first person shooter but it didn't take long to get used to them either. You do you the standard WASD keys for movement, but the "tutorial" has you using the ALT key to swap weapons. You can use the handy number keys though which is generally faster for weapon swap, but unfortunately the mouse wheel doesn't work for just simply rolling through the weapon choices. You do use the mouse for aiming and left mouse for firing. But strangly, the right mouse button is used to make a quick melee attack. This can be handy if you get too close to a bad guy you can slice and dice him with the right mouse button and you're back to shooting lickety split.
You also can use the G key to guzzle down a drink from your canteen, which pops your health meter back up to full. Now that's what I call high-quality H2O. Overall the controls for GUN took a while to get accustomed to, but after an hour or so they worked well enough. You do have the option of customizing the controls to your liking using the options menu.
The camera is in third person mode most of the game, except for when zooming in with the rifle or using your "Quick Draw" slow motion shooting mode with the pistols. The Quick Draw feature is one of the coolest features and really makes you feel like Colton is a bad ass when it comes to the six guns. You press the C key and it drops you into first person mode and everything slows down in slow motion, meaning it's easy to make extremely fast, accurate shots. You only get so many seconds of Quick Draw time before it runs out. Your Quick Draw meter will refill when you make good shots in normal mode, like making head shots, shooting the weapons out of the bad guys hands, or doing "combo kills" where you eliminate multiple enemies very rapidly.
As you play and complete missions, you will find upgrades to your weapons, earn cash, and also upgrade your skills and stats. The stats give the game a bit of RPG feel to it, where your gunplay, melee skills, and even health can get better as you complete more missions in the game. Cash can be used to purchase upgrades to your weapons, horses, or other random equipment like a pick axe for mining gold deposits or a scalp for taking scalps of your victims.
Riding the horses in the game is especially fun. You can control their speed by spurring them to get a burst of speed, but if you use it too much the health meter of your horse will fall. Horses act somewhat as "armor" when you're being attacked, since a lot of times the horse gets hit instead of you. If your horse dies you can just shoot an enemy off his horse and take his.
The gunplay from horseback works amazingly well, and after a while you'll get to the point where you are just as effective with your guns on horseback as you are on foot. You can even use your horse as a weapon by trampling on-foot enemies. Perhaps the only downside to the horses is that you never really get too attached to one specific horse, since you're always changing out horses throughout the game.
GUN has a pretty good variety of wild west weapons for you to use. You will, of course, have to use the weapons at your disposal to full advantage, such as the pistols for unlimited ammo but light damage, the rifle for better damage and better range, the shotgun for extreme damage at close range, etc. You'll also be able to throw molotov cocktails, tnt sticks, or eventually use the bow and arrow for stealth kills. You will also have the opportunity at several points during the main game to control heavy weapons like the gatlin gun and cannons. You'll also find various melee weapons that you can use to eliminate enemies who get too close.
In between the story-driven main plot missions you will have the freedom to roam a rather large world, where you can explore the various locations on the map and take on various side missions. There is quite a bit of variety to these missions, especially once you have made it to the second main town called Empire. You can sign up with the local law enforcement as a deputy to keep the peace, or maybe you prefer to read the wanted posters and become a bounty hunter, hunting down the criminal elements and bringing them to justice... or an early grave. You can hunt for and mine gold deposits, play in Texas Holdem card game tournaments, become a wild game hunter, herd cattle, deliver the pony express packages, and more.
Within the missions, both the side quests and the main mission, you will encounter a wide variety of different game play modes. There are "on rails" parts where you have to blow stuff up with a cannon. There are parts where you have to use stealth to sneak around and eliminate your enemies quietly. You'll have to use your rifle to eliminate enemies at a distance in many places. You might have escort style missions where you have to protect another character. All in all the missions never got old or too repetitive.
The main storyline to the game is very well done, and really makes you feel for the main character and some of the other characters in the game. If it has any faults it's that the main story doesn't really last long enough, and there were some times when the story seemed to abruptly change directions or pace, but overall the story is top notch and will keep you going to the end. Great production values in the graphics and sound department aid immensely in the tale telling.
While it's good to do the side missions to beef up your character's statistics, it's not entirely mandatory to do so, and even after you complete the main story and the credits have rolled, you can continue to do side quests and go for that Legendary ranking to unlock a special bonus prize.
GUN has an artistic style that perfectly fits the wild west theme of the game. All of the npcs just look like their from the era, complete with bad hair and bad teeth and the inevitable black eye. The protagonist sort of feels like a billy the kid, with rugged good looks and piercing, vengeful eyes. The terrain graphics are gorgeous, with mountains, canyons, plains, lakes, and streams. The towns look authentically western.
The horses are extremely well animated and the on-horse gunfights are a wonder to behold. Weapon fire with gun smoke and all the bloody gore is as realistic as one could ask for. Overall the graphics make you feel like you're the star role in a wild west movie, and that's about all you can really ask for in a game like this.
The graphics section of the options menu lets you set the resolution from 640x480 up to 1600x1200. I ran the game comfortably at 1280x960 and everything looked great. You can turn on full screen effects, like light bloom, smoke and dust, etc. You can turn shadows on or off. I turned all the graphics options on high and the game ran acceptably apart from a bit of stutter when running at full speed across the landscape it would occasionally have to load in graphics for a different part of the land and so for half a second it would stutter occasionally. The options are there to let you scale the graphics to what your machine can handle.
GUN has a top notch cast of voice actors that really bring the story alive and make you feel like you're in a western film. Top notch performances by Kris Kristofferson, Lance Henriksen, Tom Skerritt, Brad Dourif, Ron Pearlman, and protagonist Thomas Jane really draw you into the wild west world of GUN. The musical score is moving in that epic western style, and the music changes to fit the action so it rarely feels out of place.
GUN also features some of the best sound effects of any game in recent memory. The sounds of the six shooters, the rifles, the shotguns, and of course the cannons all sound realistic, not to mention the sounds of the wind blowing or the clops of the horse's hoofs while raiding across the plains. There is a lot of sound goodness here and it all comes down to immersion into a believable world.
Perhaps GUN's only downfall is that it's a fairly short game. You can finish the main story in under eight hours on normal difficulty on your first time through. The game does offer harder difficulty settings for a replay, and of course if you do ALL of the side quests you're probably looking at about a 10 or 11 hour game.
Sadly, there really isn't a multiplayer or anything else to give this game more longevity. The game is a lot of fun while it lasts, but you can't help but want more by the end. The short nature of the game makes it a good candidate for a repeat playing.
If you love wild west movies, you will no doubt enjoy GUN which puts you in the role of a western movie hero. The gameplay is fresh and fun, and while the ride is short, it's very exciting while it lasts. Excellent production values in the graphics and sound department really add to the believability of the story and game world, and the side quests add some depth and longevity to a somewhat short but highly entertaining main story.
The most important question to ask of any game is, was it fun? And GUN answers with a resounding yes. If you're into action game and especially if you like the wild west setting, you owe it to yourself to give this game a shot. Giddyup!