Reviewed: December 21, 2001
Released: November, 2001
Back in the late 80's and early 90's when arcades where still flourishing there was a brief period when “laserdisc games” were quite popular. This fad started with the highly addictive Dragon’s Lair game, and literally exploded from there.
Even after arcades started to vanish from the local malls, these laserdisc games persisted in their popularity, spilling over into the PC world in the form of chopped up versions on floppy and eventually CD-ROM’s. Now that DVD-ROM’s have become the unspoken standard on most gaming PC’s is it really any surprise that Digital Leisure is once again trying to milk the genre one more time on this new format?
I must mention that this game, along with the rest of the titles in the rapidly growing Digital Leisure library are not designed specifically for any gaming system. You may see stickers claiming they are compatible for the PS2 or the Xbox, but they are DVD video games, and as such will play on any DVD player whether it be a PS2, Xbox, PC, or a standalone component player in your home theater rig.
None of these games have been endorsed by Sony or Microsoft - they just simply happen to work on these systems because they support the DVD format. Do NOT be fooled into thinking these are special versions or that they make use of any of your system-specific features.
Mad Dog McCree was one of those classic arcade laserdisc games that combined the timeless style of a Wild West shootout with a light gun game. The game consisted of several locations filmed on real sets with real actors and stuntmen, and you would engage several enemy gunmen in a shooting gallery environment. Guys would pop up behind haystacks or peek through a window and you had to shoot them before they shot you.
Even though they randomized the order these guys appeared, you still only had to keep watch on a half-dozen “hot spots” per screen, so they game was (and still is) easily memorized and won in less than an hour.
As a game, the Xbox version of Mad Dog McCree hasn’t changed one bit since it first arrived back in 1990. But Mad Dog suffered a very serious design flaw during the port to the home console that even modern arcade games such as Silent Scope suffer from. You cannot take away the gun from a game that was designed around a gun and expect it to maintain any of its original fun. You are going to have about as much fun as you would if you took your TV remote and tried to play miniature golf with it.
In a pathetic attempt to let you play this game without a gun, the designers have overlaid an invisible grid over the screen, and you move your targeting crosshair around the screen using the arrow keys on your DVD remote. The PS2 version at least allowed you to use the controller to do this, but the Xbox requires you to first buy the DVD Playback Kit then use the klunky remote to play the game. The first problem (of many) is that this grid is only comprised of maybe 15-20 possible locations making it impossible to move quickly from one area of the screen to the other.
Digital Leisure has tried to assist the gamer by allowing you to pick a ”pause duration” before starting the game. This basically freezes the action (and the movie) allowing you time to move from point A to B and try to shoot the next bad buy. Another problem is that the grid doesn’t always overlay correctly over the video behind it. This creates numerous problems. You may be able to target a gunman on two or more locations, but only one is considered the valid “hit spot”. So even though you have a clean shot at a guy’s belt buckle, you may be required to nick him in the shoulder instead.
Timing is another issue. Sometimes you can fire in advance and others you have to wait for a visual or verbal cue. If you ever die you are forced into a “quick draw” match that you must win to continue the game, but you can fire 10-20 seconds before the other guy even draws and win with no problem.
The game looks stunning and is probably even better than the original laserdisc version from 1990. The video is crystal clear and looks just like any shot-for-TV movie. The game was filmed on real western sets with a cast of “actors”, or rather stuntmen who dropped out of acting class. The costumes are perfect and everyone looks the part. Visually, it doesn’t get much better than this for live action games, but it just goes to prove that graphics don’t make the game.
The sounds and music are excellent and could have been lifted from any popular western. The dialog is hokey at best and delivered by some of the worst stuntman-wannabe-actors I have ever seen. While these guys can certainly take a tumble off a roof or dive out of a hayloft, they should never be allowed to open their mouths and speak.
If you can tolerate the lack of any real substance or gameplay, you can finish this game in under an hour. It’s all memorization, and even though the encounters are randomized you can easily learn their “locations” and figure out subtle patterns to blaze through this game in record time.
With so many amazing games already available for the Xbox and more on the way, it is impossible for me to recommend this game to anyone. I have trouble even calling it a game. Unless you are some sort of collector that must have every possible format of every niche game ever made, stay away from this title.
Fads are called fads for a reason. They are popular for a time and then they go away. Sure, some classic games are coming back under the guise of “retro gaming”, but Mad Dog McCree was never considered a classic, and when you take away your six-shooter this game is about as much fun as showing up at the OK Corral unarmed.