The Basics: Take the best elements of westerns such as "Once Upon a Time in the West", add a strong dash of Grand Theft Auto-styled free-roaming and you’ll have GUN. Set in the Wild West of the late 1800’s this action/adventure is set to let unleash players in a land where greed, lust, and murder run rampant. As Colton White you’ll battle a murderous preacher, renegade army psychopaths, merciless outlaws, and unforgiving Indians.
Nifty features include an expansive interactive world that includes environments varying from open plains to snowy mountains; missions including everything from waging war on horseback to playing poker; RPG-lite skill upgrading; and an epic story written by "Mask of Zorro" scribe Randall Jahnson.
What do we think? Historically, videogames set in the Wild West have been on the iffy side. The challenge of retaining the spirit of the western while providing players with solid gameplay always seemed just out of reach.
While Lucas Arts made a few inroads in the 16-bit era, recent attempts such as Red Dead Revolver left many wondering if westerns could work as a videogame genre. There was even a time following the horrible Dead Man’s Hand where we lost faith in the western all together.
However, a recent showing on AMC of "Silverado" reminded us of how cool six-shooters and horses were when we were 12yrs old. This is what makes us believe that Neversoft’s GUN can do for westerns what Freedom Force did for superheroes. We love Grand Theft Auto, and who doesn’t remember Epona from the Legend of Zelda with fond memories of carrots? So how could a game that combines the two go wrong?
Not that anyone reading should get the impression that GUN is yet another in a growing field of GTA wannabes. Or that skyscrapers were simply replaced with saloons. The raw gameplay mechanics that you’d expect from a GTA clone have been tinkered with from the ground up.
To start with horses aren’t cars. Anyone looking at screenshots thinking that they’re going to hop on a horse and ride full speed across the world of GUN is in for a shock. Neversoft’s is crafting horses that are very much living creatures with limits to their stamina and durability.
And what fun would six-shooters be if all you could do is lock-on and smash the fire button? A dramatic "Quick Draw" function pulls the camera into first-person mode and lets you pull off some wicked looking trick shots. Besides, dual-wielding is always better when you can look down and admire the artistry on your gun.
Beyond unusual gameplay mechanics gamers should be prepared for a lawlessness that makes even the corrupt cities of GTA look tame in comparison. In GUN going out and scalping heads is something you read about in text books, but rather a good way to earn some quick cash. If that’s a little too real for you, then perhaps you’ll feel more at home defending a helpless wagon train from rampaging Indians?
There are a few questions we have for Activision and Neversoft though. For example: In addition to being able to upgrade skills like gun handling; will gamers be able to customize the appearance of Colton White? Will players be able to "horse-jack?" Most importantly, given the recent "Hot Coffee" scandal will GUN feature a *cough* brothel *cough* where gamers can stock up on health points?
Whatever the answers to our silly questions, GUN looks set to let gamers play the morally ambiguous gunslinger of their choice. All while capturing the timeless spirit of the western: horses, six-shooters, loose women, open prairies, bad men who do good things, evil men who have ulterior motives and ugly men who die screaming.
GUN is also in development for the
PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PSP and the PC.