Having recently reviewed Tony Hawk's American Wasteland -- a enjoyable, yet totally underwhelming launch title for the behemoth Xbox 360 -- I wasn't overly enthused to review Activision's other quick makeover launch title, Gun. While the idea of Neversoft doing an old west title sounded promising, it also made me think of how tired I was of Tony Hawk games. Well, it turns out American Wasteland was better than I expected, and to my delight, I've found Gun to be a rootin-tootin' romp through the ol' west.
The story of Gun is based around a tough gun slinger named Colton White and his quest to avenge the murder of his father figure, Ned Colton. The story progresses fairly well -- with plenty of surprises (usually bloody ones) and top notch acting. When first playing, I thought I was listening to Clint Eastwood and Kris Kristofferson acting on screen. As it turned out, I was half right. Kristofferson's cameos as Ned Colton, and he really pulls off the mentor role perfectly while helping you adjust to the game's controls during the early part of the game.
During the early parts of the game with Ned Colton, I realized how much fun Gun has to offer. To get you familiar with the world of Gun, Ned help helps you learn the ins and outs of this very fun shooter. Right off the bad, Ned has you realizing how easy it is to shoot down enemies through a few brief tutorials. Rather than needing to have pinpoint accuracy, you simply need to get your target in the cross-hairs, which then turns red to indicate that you have a good shot. While not a hardcore shooter, the simplicity of the aiming makes Gun a little more enjoyable and over the top. Aside from the game's great aiming system, you can snipe opponents, hack them up with knives and tomahawks, and even enter “Quick Draw” mode -- where everything slows down and you can go John Wayne Neo on your enemies. And last but not least, Ned teaches you the importance of your good old friend Jack Daniels. Almost as important as learning to kill, you'll learn to have a quick draw on with your bottle. Whenever your health is low, you can simply tap up on the D-Pad to replenish Colton's health. Yeah it sounds a little cheesy, but Gun always makes sure you realize it is not to be taken too seriously, and that's part of the charm of the title.
Once you've got the basics of blastin' in the wild west from your mentor, Ned Colton bites the dust from a boat explosion and you're left to get revenge. For the rest of the game, you move in and out of cut-scenes featuring drunks, whores and blood thirsty Indians. I don't really have to go too much into detail, because it basically plays out how you would expect a violent western romp to go. Speaking of violence, I have to say that this was a game really made killing fun. Maybe it sounds sick, but Neversoft did a great job making this an important aspect of the game. If you're not sniping, you're hacking up opponents with blood squirting everywhere. Want more? One of my favorite parts of the game is seeing plenty of cans of oil that scream, “SHOOT ME!” Yeah it is cliché to have exploding cans in games, but the way the bad guys get blown to bits in Gun is a riot. Not since playing Narc at the arcades as a kid have I enjoyed seeing body parts fly. At one point, I asked a friend if a spinning horse head was a special item. My friend replied, “Nope, that the head of a horse you just blew off!” Cool!
While violence is usually not the main draw of a game for me, it certainly made Gun a memorable experience for me. It definitely wasn't the most impressive Xbox 360 launch title, but I certainly got a kick out of being John Wayne for a few days.