Gun GameCube Review
It’s not very often that we see a developer so well-known for a franchise and they decide to surprise us. Capcom, makers of Resident Evil, gave us Killer 7. n-Space, makers of the crapfest Mary Kate & Ashley games, gave us Geist. The case is no different here, as makers of the infamous Tony Hawk skater franchise give us what is simply known as Gun. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill shooting game. If you’re a fan of westerns in any way, you may very well fall in love with Gun. But be forewarned, the game does an excellent job of presenting what may have been the Old West, so do keep the children at bay.
You are Colton White, a gruff young cowboy, that is out for some revenge. At the beginning of the game, you are awoken by your father Ned who you hunt with. During this time you are taught the core mechanics of shooting basic guns. You utilize normal shooting, as well as the game’s intuitive Quickdraw feature. This is done to kill time also, as it leads into what is the main plot of the game. You eventually wind up on a steamboat with your father, as he needs to take care of some business. You are greeted by the local preacher, but something doesn’t seem right about him. Eventually, the steamboat is attacked by a group of renegades and you all of a sudden have no idea what’s going on. You help defend the boat as long as you can with Ned, but eventually, it’s a lost cause. You are thrown overboard as the boat is about to explode while hearing the stunning words, “I ain’t your father!” Talk about shock and awe.
Now as was said before, Gun is meant to be a realistic depiction of the Old West. Not only with its “personality”, but how it looks as well. There are four main areas of navigation: Dodge City, Empire, Blackfoot Camp and Apache Territory. In this entire scheme, you have your typical wooden buildings that encompass saloons and weapons shops. Then there are the numerous hills, mountains and dirt paths. Of course, the game wouldn’t be complete without a nice railroad, mine or ranch, and they are here too. The animals and way everyone dresses reflect that time period as well. Horses are always seen ready to take their next ride to a destination. Men dawn the traditional boots and hat while the women have their enormously large dresses.
Gun in an overall sense is one fine looking game, but as with any, there are some shortcomings. For instance, the scaling of some buildings was just a little small. You ride horseback for a good majority of the game, and being able to see over the roof of a building on the horse really shouldn’t happen. There are some noticeable glitches as well. Fallen enemies may become half stuck in a wall with their feet hanging out, and in one strange occurrence, you may see Colton holding onto something that isn’t even there if utilizing a human shield. The detail isn’t exactly elaborate throughout either. It is understandable though since Gun’s world is completely free to roam. There are no loading times whatsoever, so some detail was sacrificed. It generally isn’t noticeable, but you will see it. Gun is a depiction of the Old West, and the graphical aspect is mostly satisfying.
The actual guns you use in the game look great too and have their individual distinctions. They look great and are just as fun to fire. Throughout your adventure, you will be treated to revolvers, rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, bows and various throwing explosives. The shooting engine works more or less like most others have this generation. The dual analogue sticks control Colton’s movements and aiming. You can adjust the sensitivity of them to appeal to all likenesses. Shooting is done with the traditional right shoulder and ducking or rolling is done with the left. The only feature that is odd here is how the reloading, holstering, zooming and switching of weapons is done. This is all done on the D-Pad. As strange as it might seem at first though, it was done that way to make controlling the game easier.
Quickdraw mode is a huge part of Gun. Just think Matrix bullet time combined with the arduous task of “drawing” quickly in an Old West standoff and you have Quickdraw. It is initiated with B just as long as you have some of the meter filled. Something like headshots will do that. When you press B to start it, you are switched from the more usual third-person view to a first-person perspective. You then see whatever weapon you have drawn in that view with everything slowed down. What’s really nice is you literally have infinite ammo during the duration of Quickdraw, but only because your revolvers are the only guns used in it. Nevertheless, you can fire to your heart’s desire, and flick the control stick left or right to bring additional enemies into view and get a lock on them. This is incredibly useful when facing large numbers of foes at once, and the faster you are, the more meter you refill.
Switching your weapons is done with left on the D-Pad, and you can set two different ones at once. Your revolvers are default so that can never be changed, but either of your shotguns, rifles, snipers or bows can be set on the other half. This is done by holding left on the pad and using the C Stick to choose which one you want. Reloading is done with right on the D-Pad, and revolvers can be infinitely reloaded. The rest of your weapons need ammo that can be found in various places throughout the world. Zooming is another important feature in shooting your weapons, and that is done with down on the pad. This is the other way to go into first-person perspective, but it can only be done with your rifles. It seems natural to be that way though, as you would never really use any kind of scoped view on a shotgun. When in the zoomed view, the usual targeting reticule is there, and you fire as you would normally.
There is another feature to playing the game, but it’s also the least interesting. This is your melee attacks and scalping. You eventually have access to bladed weapons to do this with. It’s all done using A, as Colton simply takes unexciting swipes at whatever your enemy may be. Let’s face it, the game is called Gun for a reason. You use guns, not petty sharp weapons. Some missions in the game do force you to use melee attacks, and you will quickly want to return to shooting afterwards. Scalping is also an available option during play after you take down your enemies. We’ll spare the gross details and simply end this with the fact that it’s a pointless thing to do because you get nothing out of it. Well, you hear screams for bloody murder or help in any form, but that’s just about it.
With your weapons and environments you experience a very authentic Old West, but what about the other stuff? Well, this is happening to be the music and audio. Like stated before, if you’ve ever seen any kind of western themed tv show or movie, you are bound to understand the dramatic and sometimes sombre music. However, it’s not even the music that drives the concept of the Old West the most in the game here. It’s all the gun sounds and voice work. This was all excellently done, and Neversoft gets major props for it. Underneath a seemingly harmless era you have the sounds of guns blazing, dynamite exploding, blood-shedding, victims screaming, horse hooves galloping and boot spurs jiggling.
These sounds are truly excellent and do a superb job emulating what the Old West may have really sounded like. Then we have the incredible voice acting. We learned before the release of the game that Neversoft was recruiting some top name acting talent to lend their voices to the characters. Thankfully this time around that money went to good use as the characters of Gun may be the liveliest on the GameCube. Now once again, be forewarned, this game is not for the children and this is a big reason why. The numerous characters of the Gun world spare no moment in dropping a curse word in almost every sentence they say. Surprisingly the ‘f-word’ is never actually spoken, but everything else pretty much is. Sometimes it can seem a little overkill, but this was the Old West, and people probably did speak that way more often than not. So with the likes of Colton, Jenny and all the in-game villains, you hear true emotion and expression.
Gun also functions on a very easy-to-understand progression style. You have your main story, which sadly isn’t even more than ten missions long. This would be what puts off anyone from this game, as something just seems missing, even if it all makes sense at the end. To make matters worse, the many side missions Gun has to offer way overshadow what you do in the main missions. There are so many of them, and they are generally very enjoyable to go through. These are comprised of anything from the simple helping of the local sheriff in keeping the peace to running jobs for the Pony Express. You also have a chance at participating in six different Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments, so if you’re a fan of that card game, there’s additional fun to be had. Doing these missions is what nets you the money you need to buy what you can in the game as well. You get anything from $5 to $50 depending on what you’re doing. It’s rather odd though because there are 44 total stashes of gold to mine in the world, and each only reward you with $10 each time. Wasn’t gold supposed to worth a bit more than that? Nevertheless, this cash will allow you to buy anything from weapon power upgrades to how many bullets in one sitting you can use. It is disappointing to only have a story last for about six or so hours, but if you take it upon yourself to do everything else available, you can easily double that length or more.
Gun was without a doubt a truly ambitious game concept from Neversoft Entertainment. To having only previously done skateboarding games to moving onto a game depicting the Old West takes some guts and finesse. Thankfully they played their cards just right enough so we got something that shooter fans could really enjoy. Yes the campaign itself is a little too short and some of the side missions might seem convoluted, but the overall experience may really make you think, “Wow, that was something different, and fun.” The risk was definitely there, but Neversoft capitalized on it, giving us a game really offering a feel of what the Old West was really like. The characters have vibrant personalities and the entire atmosphere is helped by that. It may not be entirely difficult to achieve 100% completion in the game, but in the end, you should end up satisfied.