Review by Tenshi No Shi

"Welcome to the (almost) Wild West."

Even as I sit here writing this review, I vividly remember the almost deafening hype surrounding the release of Gun. Perhaps it was because the two-month stretch that lead up to it's launch found me working nearly full-time at EB Games and was therefore assaulted with a continual deluge of commercials and previews (which were essentially much longer commercials). So now that I've played through the game twice (once on the Playstation 2 and once on the Xbox 360), I can reflect on Gun's hype and whether or not I feel it was deserving.

Despite being somewhat predictable, I enjoyed the Clint Eastwood-meets-The Frontiersman vibe of Guns' story. You play as Colton White, raised by a live-on-the- wild, friend-of -the-Indians hunter by the name of Ned, who's sorted past finally catches up to him. The chain of events that lead up to his demise at the outset of the game puts you on the path of revenge and, ultimately, the truth about your own past. To be honest, I actually think this would make a fairly good movie with a few tweaks to the plot.

As a Playstation 2 game, Gun impressed me in the graphics department. However, as an Xbox 360 title, Gun is just barely even average. Sure the textures look better in high definition and the main characters' models look like they received a minor over-haul, but the same short draw distance is her (and perhaps made more obvious in hi-res) and may of the same glitches rear their ugly heads. I know a statement like that makes me sound like a graphics-whore, but if Activision expects us to pay ten bucks more, they need to add and/or upgrade something to justify the purchase.

On the other hand, I have no complaints about Gun's audio. The sound effects are spot on (er, not that I have much of a gauge to compare the authenticity of galloping horses or six-shot guns) and help immerse the player into the game. The voice acting, though sometimes a bit over- the-top, really drives home the emotional aspect of the storyline. Then, of course, there is the music. Call me crazy but I absolutely loved the epic, sweeping quality of the game's soundtrack that made even mundane tasks like herding stray cattle feel edgy and heroic.

I'm sure by now everyone has heard the comparisons between Gun and Grand Theft Auto, and nothing illustrates the similarities between the two more than the controls. While not exactly the same, it only took about thirty-second for me to adjust and be comfortable with Grand Theft Auto: Dodge mean Gun. Joking aside, the controls are tight and offer little to give complaint about. In fact, if anything, the game might be a little too forgiving in the aiming department (though this can be over-looked since quit a bit of your shooting is done on the back of a horse).

Really, if you're going to ape another game, Grand Theft Auto is the one to pick. Though how you can go from stealing cars to shoot-outs at high noon... Okay, so aside from your primary mode of transportation lacking and engine and replying on actual horse-power, Gun and the Grand Theft Auto series aren't all that dissimilar. The open-ended gameplay married with the sandbox style "world" makes for a more satisfying experience since you feel more in control of you character's destiny. The only problem is Neversoft didn't cop the scale of Rockstar's trademark series- There are only two towns and a few noteworthy land-marks, but otherwise the virtual mileage is quite small. The result is a game you can complete in well under six hours, and that's if you decide to collect, upgrade and do everything.

Aside from the Xbox Live achievements (which I personally do not count as a 'bonus' since most of them you receive through normal gameplay), there are a few rewards for going the extra mile in the game. Beating the game gets you a powerful, seven-barrel gun, while finishing it with 100% completion unlocks an armored hours and a gun that is basically a primitive grenade launcher. Defeating various baddies will usually net you their custom weapons (dual Peacemakers, a cavalry sword, etc.) and completing all the side missions rewards you with silver spurs, an apache shirt and more. All in all, enough incentive to complete even the most pointless tasks.

As much as I enjoyed playing Gun (and it was just as fun the second time through), I can't really recommend it as a purchase. Sure it's a fun game with and engaging story and easy-to-pick-up controls, but the small map, lack of mission and over-all shortness of the game takes it down a few notches. Perhaps the inevitable sequel will achieve the status that the first game falls short of but, for now, give it a rental or snag it for under $20.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/12/09, Updated 08/14/09

Game Release: Gun (US, 11/16/05)

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