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Matt Keller
04 Dec, 2005

Gun Review

PS2 Review | Wanted: Longevity. Will pay $15 for safe return.
Once a Hollywood staple, the western has faded into obscurity as the tastes of the movie-going public changed over time, and as such the genre hasn’t really featured in very many videogames. The most successful western game of recent times was Rockstar San Diego’s Red Dead Revolver, which drew a lot of its influence from Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name trilogy. Neversoft, taking a break from their rigid schedule of annual Tony Hawk updates, has taken influence from the aforementioned western trilogy and combined it with the popular freeform/emergent gameplay stylings of the Grand Theft Auto games and come up with Gun. With high production values, scores of Hollywood voice talent and solid gameplay, you’d think you’d have a formula for success, right? Unfortunately, Gun’s rollicking pace and low number of half-baked side missions will have you wondering where the rest of the game is.

Gun’s story centres on Colton White, an all round do-gooder who works with his father Ned hunting game for the cruise ships that run by their area. While loading their latest order onto the cruise ship, Reverend Reed and his gang of savage soldiers attack. Colton and Ned do their best to defend the boat, but it sinks in the melee. With his last words, Ned informs Colt that he is not his real father, and if he wants answers, Colt must to talk to Jenny in Dodge City. Moments later, the ship explodes, Ned is vaporised and Colton is knocked out, washing up on the beach a few days later.

First is the whore house, then the cathouse, the brothel, the bordello...

First is the whore house, then the cathouse, the brothel, the bordello...
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One of the main influences on Neversoft in developing Gun has been Grand Theft Auto, as the game features a sprawling countryside with a few small towns scattered around, and the player can go wherever he/she wishes. Rather than using cars for transport, Gun uses horses. While you can’t “horsejack” anyone (you’ve got to shoot them off), Gun’s horses have the same disposable nature as the cars in Rockstar’s games, which is a little unfortunate given the relationship many western heroes had with their steed. Being living creatures, you also have to take a little more caution when taking leaps off cliffs and accelerating – a horse might get a bit pissy and throw Colton off, or even die. Horses are quite handy for getting around the countryside quickly and can make Colton a lot more dangerous – you can use all of your weapons off the back of the horse, and the beast itself can trample any poor saps that get in its way.

As you’d expect for a game based in the Old West, Gun features plenty of action. There’s a reasonable variety of weapons – six shooters, rifles, shotguns and the trusty bow and arrow. Colton is always up against multiple foes, but players will find that every gun at their disposal is quite useful, even if they only stick to the six shooters and rifles. Quickdraw mode can be activated in times of desperation – the game slows down, and the player can quickly switch between targets and fire off rounds without having to aim or reload. Keener players are likely to notice that the game is very generous in regards to auto-aiming and hitboxes, which is both slightly annoying and useful at the same time, especially for those of us with issues using the DualShock 2 in first person situations. Gun actually features a rather surprising level of gore – we understand that this is the Wild West, and it wasn’t a pleasant place to be, but Neversoft have gone a little too far with the levels of gore, graphic violence and vulgarity in the game. We’re pretty liberal towards game violence at PALGN, but seeing innocent characters get their throats slashed and large chunks of cranium and cortex flying out of victims of headshots, as well as overlying misogynistic and racist themes is where we tend to draw the line - in this case it actually takes away from the overall experience.

Wilburrrrrr!

Wilburrrrrr!
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Gun’s main quest will have you doing a wide variety of different missions, from protecting a bridge from a bunch of enraged Apaches to infiltrating a mine with a rather large cannon and blasting any bastard who gets in your way. The game gives players ample opportunity to go off and do their own bidding, as well as offering a variety of side missions to undertake. These include bounty hunter missions, delivery missions, hunting, digging for gold, ranching and more. The downer is that these side missions are rather bland, and there’s never really any incentive to complete them. You do get a little bit of cash and some stats upgrades, but the improvements to Colton’s abilities are largely indistinguishable; the entire exercise feels quite pointless.

Unfortunately, the pace at which Gun’s story moves is just a little too fast – while the story missions are compelling overall, players are going to be disappointed when they see the end credits at around the five hour mark – and that includes doing the game’s side quests. It’s a little silly at times; when you get to Empire, Colton is made a deputy, at which point you’d expect to have to do a few missions fixing the town and establishing some law and order, but the developers instantly send you off into the wastes to push the story right along. To make things even more annoying, Gun never really offers any sort of formidable challenge on the default difficulty level – players are going to have to step up to the hard or ‘insane’ levels for their progress to be hindered by the enemies in the game. The sprawling countryside of Gun is quite nice until you figure out that it’s really quite bland and lifeless – there’s not a whole lot to it. Dodge and Empire aren’t exactly brimming with life, and the side missions and country side are not compelling in any way. This seems to be a problem companywide at Activision, as many of their attempts at free roaming titles (the True Crime and Spider-Man games) suffer from lifeless cities and pointless side missions with a distinct lack of variety – something must be done if the company wishes to continue developing free-form games.

A partial Village People reunion?

A partial Village People reunion?
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One of the first things players will notice about Gun are the superb production values. The game features a strong group of characters – the heroes are likeable and the villains are despicable, as you’d expect in a western. The setting of the game is especially strong – the two main towns; Dodge City and Empire City, are filled with character and surrounded by rolling plains and harsh deserts; they just aren’t filled with people. The cutscenes are filled with impressive motion capture and choreography, and do a great job of pushing along what develops into a very interesting narrative. Gun’s graphics are quite mixed; character models are well detailed and animate quite smoothly, even if there’s not a great variety of enemy types, whereas the game’s environments seem to be quick lacking in the texture and architecture departments. The game’s framerate is quite solid, with only momentary drops in times of high action. Neversoft have gone to great lengths to make Gun a great aural experience, recruiting Kris Kristofferson, Thomas Jane, Tom Skerritt, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen and Ron Perlman to do voice work and the Northwest Sinfonia orchestra for the soundtrack (80 pieces in all!). The soundtrack is more of a nod towards the Leone trilogy more than rest of the Spaghetti Western era, and feels a little too epic for such a short game, but is very good nonetheless. Sound effects are quite accurate, but don’t really stick out as much as the voice work and music.

It’s pretty obvious that Neversoft have gone to great lengths to ensure that Gun has superb presentation, but in doing so, much of the game has been underdeveloped. We’re really surprised that the experience is over and done with in just five hours, and shocked that Neversoft would repeat the mistakes of their Activision peers by offering rather lifeless cities and pointless, unvaried side missions. You really can’t hope to compete with the GTA sandbox when you don’t bring the same sort of stuff to the table. Nonetheless, Gun is a definite rental – not even the most die-hard western fan will find enough substance to justify paying full price for such a short game, but the game on offer is still worth checking out, despite its flaws.
The Score
Gun is a classic example of style over substance. Superb production values, but there's no real meat in the underlying game. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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17 Comments
8 years ago
"The soundtrack is more of a nod towards the Leone trilogy more than the Spaghetti Western era"

Erm... The Leone trilogy were spaghetti westerns - they started the whole italian western thing! I think you mean the 40's and 50's John Wayne type era, which Gun is far more influenced by musically and visually then the 60's Leone era.
8 years ago
Quote
"The soundtrack is more of a nod towards the Leone trilogy more than the Spaghetti Western era"
I meant the era as a whole. Hell, you can hear some of the exact same instrumental riffs used in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in the game.
8 years ago
In your opinion is it worth the GC $50 price tag?
8 years ago
Definitely better value on the Gamecube at $50 bucks, but I felt dissatisfied finishing it so quickly. It's really an ideal rental, but I guess most places don't really rent GC games.
8 years ago
Was this some sort of rushed, cut-scene-skipping play? I've not failed a single mission bar the last one I played, and I've squeezed a good 10 hours out of it so far. icon_confused.gif
8 years ago
Nope - what on Earth are you doing?
8 years ago
Just following the storyline, clearing the side-quests between each mission. icon_confused.gif
8 years ago
hmmm. i was quite looking forwards to this game, but it sounds somewhat disappointing. well it's only $60 on PC so maybe i'll get it in the post-christmas sales, though it's dropped a few places in my list of games to get.

your review does make me wonder whether misogynism and racism are excusable when used for authenticity, since the "wild west" was hardly known for the acceptance and kind treatment of woman and "minorities", but i guess considering how much more accessible a game is compared to a movie or tv show (like Deadwood, for example) is, it's still a contentious issue, and without having played the game i can't say whether it is authentic or not.
8 years ago
Sounds like Gun received too much hype.
8 years ago
Maybe a disclaimer should be made for the gcn version, where say, gcn owners should add another 1 or 1.5 to the score keeping in mind it is so much cheaper than most other versions.....

But now where getting technical.

This game has only got me interested cause of the price.$50 new?Yeah i'll be in that.The only games i usually pay full price for a first party nintendo games and/or games that i have generally been 'hyped' about for a while.
8 years ago
Yeah, GC ports rock, they obviously realised that ports are a death wish on GC so they just opted to sell them for less (the alternative is likely not making them at all, which is bad). Makes it easier to decide whether or not to get XMen Legends and Spidey to name a couple. It's kind of funny seeing the GC version of Tony Hawk cheaper than GBA or DS though.
8 years ago
What's even better is that some of these GCN versions are the best version. The GCN Ultimate Spiderman is easily the best version (according to the IGN head to head), and yet is half the price. There's no way I'd get that for full price usually, but grabbed it for my parents to get me for christmas.

Gun is in the same boat (Ho Ho if you've played the start of the game). Maybe I'll get it for my brother for christmas - saving me $50 (since I always get him a game), and then I can borrow it!

I've played the first hour far too many times at developer events etc though, so I'll have to borrow a save file skipping the first bit too...
8 years ago
GUN's shorter play cycle is part of a worldwide trend if you ask me.

Take out RPGs and the odd GTA/RE 4/Sim most video games are getting shorter reducing development costs at the expense of customer value. BTW I think its the length and quality of these game titles like GTA III which is giving the customer their perceived value.

You could argue a great 6-10 hour game is worth $89.95 but thats $15-$10 per hour. Cinema ticket is $14 (Brisbane full price) and you get a two hour movie its $7 per hour.

IMHO a game thats less than 12-15 hours for $90 price tag isn't worth getting @ full price doesn't matter if its the best game in the world. But you don't want a padded game either. There has to be a middle ground.

So what happens is people rent, pirate, beg, borrow or whatever till it gets to a platinum sale like price before scooping it up. Its a fairly rare occassion now I'll pay full price for a game. Recently I purchased RE 4 (PS2) from JB for $89 for Xmas.

Unfortunately I think this situation throws the consumer/publisher into a vicious cycle where the developer's are going is not worth the effort (so cut back development costs = shorter game) until they realise they do have to offer value. Sort of Catch 22 when they start giving back value again for a 12 to 15 hour game people will than start forking over the $90.

Its just one theory I have any way icon_biggrin.gif.

For the record I will be renting GUN (and any other game that lasts for a short period like King Kong).
8 years ago
Good luck finding the GC version here, it's pretty hard to get.
8 years ago
K-mart bathurst had mobs of em.
8 years ago
^ as does Toys R Us Perth. plus if you find 2 other games you want, you'll get one free.

(also applies to PS2 and XBox games, but not PC icon_sad.gif )
8 years ago
Ron Pearlman and Ron Pearlman? Was that deliberate? I just thought you might be a Ron Pearlman fan...

That certainly was an interesting read. I had a feeling the violence might be a little too over the top, but still I'll want to give this game a rental. I've been interested in this game since the Palgn preview a few months back so I can't just let it pass me by.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Activision
Developer:
  Neversoft
Players:
  1

Extra:
Widescreen

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