Hello all! Last week’s game was a Western, which is surprisingly rare in gaming. This one was the precursor to one of the best games of all time. It was pretty good.
Today brings us another Western, mostly because some of you thought I was covering this instead of Red Dead Revolver, so I figured why not. Here goes.
Gun is a PS2/Xbox/360/PC game (oh, and PSP) that came out back in 2005. It was deveolped by Neversoft, of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater fame. In contrast to Red Dead Revolver’s general Spaghetti Western feel, Gun opts for a more Revisionist Western motif. Think over-the-top, but darker, and oh-so-bloody. In addition to taking sometimes extreme liberties with history and fact. Set in 1880, Gun follows Colton White, who is a standard Wild West outdoorsman-turned-outlaw (and hey, he shares the same last name as me!) While on a riverboat, returning from a hunting trip, Colton and his father, Ned, are attacked by Reverend Josiah Reed. Outnumbered, Ned tells Colton he’s not his real father, tells him to find a woman named Jenny in Dodge city, and throws him off the boat before it explodes, killing Ned. Thus your adventure begins...and ends almost as quickly. More on that in a minute.
Gun is a standard (for the day) shooter; move with the left stick, aim with the right, and so on. Being a Western, you have a choice of revolvers and rifles, mostly, and a bow and arrow. There’s a slow-motion mechanic here too, which every Western seems to have. Here, you build up a meter with kills, press a button, and the game switches to first-person-view, giving you unlimited ammo you can use to mow down a group of enemies in seconds. It never gets old. Horseback combat is present too, and its a blast.
All of it’s a riot, really. Gun holds up pretty well; I played my PS2 copy and it still looks solid enough, if a bit jaggy and...well, it looks like a game from 2005. But it plays great, and I found myself having fun during my replay of it for this article. The shooting is on point, and the whole game is this big, ridiculous, gory mess. The story isn’t the deepest thing; it’s very Hollywood, but it’s entertaining enough to sustain the game to the end. But then, as I replayed it, I remembered Gun’s biggest, most damning flaw:
It’s really short.
Despite wondering if I would have the time to finish Gun in time for this article, it turns out I was able to finish it pretty quickly. Like over a couple of relatively brief night sessions. (Note: often, for these Game of the Week articles, I’ll replay a game from my collection sometimes to completion if I can. The rest of the times, I play to jog my memory enough to where I feel comfortable writing about them. These are all games that I’ve finished at some point, though) Gun clocks in at around five hours, maybe six or seven if you did the few, uninteresting side missions.
The problem with Gun is Neversoft gave us an open world to roam and nothing to do within it. You can do side missions that feel meaningless and simple, you can mine some gold, and ...well, that’s basically it. It’s a sandbox without toys. This makes the player focus on story missions, which are fun enough. But even Gun’s plot charges along at such a relentless, fast pace that it becomes impossible to relate to or sympathize with any of the characters. Characters which are rapidly introduced and killed at breakneck speed. Why should we care about Ned, Colton’s father, for example? We’ve known him for one minute. Jenny’s entire character is an almost nude scene in a tub shortly before she is (gratuitously) murdered. Colton himself is more or less a cipher, alternatively kind of good and kind of crappy, and you’re never really sure if you should be rooting for him or not. At times, it feels like the developers want you to cheer him on simply because you’re playing as him. The villains are gloriously insane and over the top, but they come and go, disappearing from the plot as quickly and inexplicably as they exploded into it.
And it’s easy to feel like the game was somewhat rushed, but it plays so well; it doesn’t feel rushed from a gameplay standpoint, but it feels rushed as far as how quickly the plot flashes before your eyes. And, as there’s little to do besides follow that plot, this all means that Gun is over before you know it.
Gun is a blast, but it’s so fleeting, over before you know it. And once you’re done, there’s little reason to return. That’s why it’s so conflicting; I love it, but geez...there’s nothing here. If Blockbuster were still around, it would be the perfect weekend rental, only you would have to find something else to play for Saturday and Sunday. It’s worth a look if you haven’t played; it’s a bit old, but fun. I just wish there was more; I know that’s usually a sign that a game was great, and Gun is! But even the ending is abrupt and gives you a feeling of “maybe the devs ran out of disc space?” Still, if you see it on sale, it’s worth it for a couple hours of hilarious Western fun. Also, it has Thomas Jane, so.
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Next week’s game is a classic RTS, the likes of which we’ll never see again. It has robots!