| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_3D; loc=NA] |
|Perhaps somewhat overhyped as a Western "Grand Theft Auto" (see entry 107), "Gun" does fairly well as a Western adventure heavy on the shooting.|
The thing starts off pretty well, with you and your Pa out hunting. It's sort of super-extreme hunting (you casually dispatch of three elk, four or five wolves, eight or so quail, and a grizzly in the space of about ten minutes), but anything to keep the kids entertained, right? After boarding a steamboat, the plot thickens to include some kind of weird preacher, white savages, and a whore's lost treasure, or something. Anyway, it could do worse. By Western (by which I mean, North American) video game standards, the writing and voice acting are top notch.
It also helps that the game looks real nice. The progressive scan option is appreciated, and really lets the highly detailed character models and Western buildings shine. The art team did a fine job of getting in atmospheric natural vistas, too. The framerate will get a little murky, at times, but I haven't seen anything too horrible, yet.
Oh, nice sound effects, too--all the different types of guns sound different, and you can really tell when you ride your horse onto different surfaces. Tons of voices here as well, with words flying almost as thick as the bullets in gunfights.
But is it fun? Well, yeah. I think it is just a tad too fast--all the fights whiz by like lightning, and you rarely have a chance to collect yourself or take a breather while the action is going down. Come to think of it, the fights mostly come down to efficient use of the "Quick Draw" feature, where you go into a bullet-time slow-mo thing with auto-targetting of enemies at the flick of the analog stick. Five Apaches charging you? Nothing a sliver of your "Quick Draw" meter can't handle in about two seconds. I would have liked to see a little more hanging back and aiming carefully; you can try doing it, but the enemy moves so quickly, and shoots so accurately, that you'll probably get hurt worse than they do if you hang back outside Quick Draw range.
The two side missions I've done in town amounted to about a minute of riding or shooting each. Eh. There's primitive resource gathering (buy a pick axe to "mine" gold ore you find nestled in rocks), and a weapon upgrade shopkeeper, but that won't keep you busy for long. Fortunately, the main story is plenty compelling, at least in the early going. I've heard that the game as a whole is on the short side, which I can well believe considering the pace at which I've been blazing through the content so far--but I'm having fun doing it.
There are a few cornball things here and there that distract a bit from the "realistic" action-movie type of thing they're going for generally. Drinking whiskey to heal yourself, for instance. Killing buffalo and wolves by riding them down with your horse also seems kind of dopey, and while I'm on the topic, being able to kill your horse by spurring it a few times in a row is, well, weak. Besides those, I've also seen a few glitches, like dead quail hanging in midair, or the weird UI catch-up that happens if you try reloading while zoomed in with your rifle. These and the overall (rumored) brevity are the hallmarks of a game rushed a bit for the holiday season, I suppose.
Gun bears many similarities to the earlier Western game of this generation, Red Dead Revolver (see entry 486), from the beginning (taking up your slain father's gun), to the slow-motion pistol mode. Red Dead had more stylized graphics and presentation, and packed in a very thorough multiplayer mode on top of that. I wouldn't say that Gun quite measures up to Red Dead's precedent (not that I've finished either game yet), but as far as fast action goes, it hits the spot pretty well, and also manages to create a compelling old West setting.
Oh, just a special mention of the cinematics: they're almost all done in the game engine, and look great thanks to the detailed character faces, and especially the animation; they seem to have motion-captured every actor independently for each scene. Not too bad on the camera work, either.
On the other hand, the one CG cinematic I've seen did not run in progressive, even though the 3D parts of the game did, so I had to switch monitors quickly in order to catch it. Weak.
|Gun can also do progressive widescreen; with some very well-designed textures and landscapes, Gun looks very good for a PS2 game, and even on the PS3 I found myself pausing once in a while to look at a particularly fetching sunset, inviting forest glen, or massive stony canyon. (I'm told it was an Xbox 360 launch title, and that that version was pretty much a straight port of the PS2 version--which says something for it, although apparently 360 owners were not impressed with it when it tried to hop to that next gen.) It even runs pretty quickly for the most part, though it bogs down here and there in really crowded fights. It also tends to look a little sparse in many areas, where the textures and fairly low-poly landscape can't carry things all on their own: could have used more sprite effects to cover up some of those long lines of sight, or at least distract the eye from their plainness, but Gun doesn't excel in visual FX.|
The rest of the game plays out more or less like the beginning did: battles that would go too quickly, except that the game send repeated wave of single-shot, really dumb enemies at you, and side missions that don't take very long, and usually aren't very interesting.
Eventually you get access to pretty much the whole game map, which is extensive in a curiously compact way: they decided to make it the entire West experience, in miniature, so within seconds, especially once you get your faster horse riding ability, you can gallop through mini plains, mini canyons, mini forests, and mini towns, all arranged in a somewhat clever but somewhat annoyingly mazelike landscape. The small size diminishes the epic feeling you're supposed to be getting, but, since you'll have to do a lot of riding back and forth to get to the various side-missions (which only unlock in their separate spots after you go through part of the story, so you'll do part of the story, then have to ride all over the West to catch back up on the new side-missions), it's probably for the best.
You get new or more powerful weapons, like dual revolvers, or Ned's rifle, which has a great fierce kick to it, and you can use your side-mission money to upgrade your skills, getting more accurate (the game has a usually unintrusive auto-aim), faster on a horse, faster to reload, etc. Some of these are satisfying to use, but the weapon-switching UI, which requires you to hold down a button while using the d-pad to navigate a submenu or sub-submenu, only gets more frustrating; it almost seems designed to discourage you from accessing your full selection of weapons during a fight. Huh.
Some of the side missions are not fun at all. There are "Pony Express" type missions where you have to gallop somewhere within a very tight time limit; the HUD shows you direction, but you can't really tell destination, and if there are twists and turns that you don't predict correctly, you'll be doing the mission again. There are rancher missions where you actually have to herd cattle by heading them off when they inevitably decide to make a run for it--not fun, particularly since their actions are so obviously scripted. There are hunting missions, but I never got past the first, which never failed to anger me: you have to sneak up on a semi-randomly appearing wolf, and pop it in the head with an arrow from close range; if it spots you, or hears your horse, of if you shoot it with any other weapon, no matter how powerful, or the bow from just outside the arbitrary wolf-shooting range, the wolf runs off, invulnerable, and you're told to find it somewhere else. Screw you, wolf.
Numerous missions require you to "capture" someone, instead of just Gunning them, and this is never great, because the capture mechanic is very lame: once you've damaged them slightly, within a vague close range you'll get the "Grab" action option; do that, then you have to press the new "Subdue" button within a very narrow window of time, or they'll break free and you have to repeat, usually while being shot. As with Gun in general, the UI there is unintuitive, and the action is too abrupt to feel natural, despite the detailed, naturalistic animations.
Scripted action sequences, like the cattle herding, usually do feel way too artificial here; this gets particularly bad when the game tries to have a "stealth" type of mission, where the detection is all arbitrary and scripted, and you have to use the "Grab/Subdue" thing a lot. Much more frequent are violent scripted sequences with lots of shooting, and some jerk NPC yelling in your ear "do this! now do this!" while not lifting a finger to help out.
I would have liked more open missions where you could make your own course, facing non-scripted AIs who weren't really stupid, and didn't go down in a single shot. Gun's AIs are all crack shots, and will start nicking away at you as soon as they see you (or sooner--I saw a lot of my allies trying to shoot through walls), which is annoying because there's no real sense of being able to dodge enemy fire, and you're just always getting little pain flashes, but none of them put up much of a fight until the end, where suddenly on the last level they all pack a punch like a bazooka--that is not so fun. But they don't move very well, and they don't see very well, and generally leave a lot to be desired as gunplay opponents. The final boss fight magnifies these problems.
The shooting itself isn't as satisfying as it could be: the aim and movement feel a little too plain somehow, and while the sound effects are good, the visual FX, aside from the animations, are very lacking; for instance, in one overly scripted sequence later on you man a howitzer, but shooting it just produces a silly-looking puff of gray and orange dust particles where it's supposed to be hitting.
Gun's main story wanders a bit here and there, feeling like treading water at some points, but it's all right as far as these things go, provides a decent variety of activities and areas in which to conduct them, and was actually longer (plus side missions) than I expected--not that it's anything near a 40-hour epic or anything, mind you, and while you can I guess gamble or something (didn't try), there's really no random wandering around and causing trouble activities you can engage in--the type of aimless mayhem, I mean, that makes the GTA games such popular time-wasters. Once you've done the main story and the side missions, you're done.
Gun's gameplay doesn't excel in any particular aspect, and could be better in many, but the combination of story, presentation, gameplay, and setting in one package is reasonably satisfying.
|Download added: disc.jpg (18239 bytes)|
Huh, Gun is rated "M." Couldn't be for nudity or sex, so I guess it's all those low-detail brain-blasting head shots that did it. Head shots are so easy in this game that you feel like a chump when you hit someone anywhere else. Unless they're riding a horse, then it's all fair game (and the horse, too--yeah, yeah, shooting video horses, I guess that makes me a bad bad man)--and those shot-off-horse animations really are satisfying.
|Gun uses a very tight checkpoint system, so if you do something silly like accidentally fall off a bridge, or get shot to pieces before you realize you should have taken a swig of whiskey, you'll restart in the previous room or valley, and I never felt like I was far away from getting right back to where I'd left off. I don't know if I've ever seen a checkpoint system done this well.|| ||