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GUN (Xbox 360) artwork

GUN (Xbox 360) review


"It's one of those "good but" games. GUN is good, but its Western atmosphere is disappointingly sedate. With yellow ground, brown buildings, and simple textures (why is this on 360?), it's not nearly as visually appealing as Death By Degrees on PS2. The characters are always genuinely likable or appropriately detestable, but they're too often treated as disposables. There's a nice end-game twist, but that end comes too quickly."



I like GUN. That really doesn't mean much. I like a lot of games. GUN -- the story of freelance peace-keeping agent Colton White's quest for revenge -- happens to be one of them.

Unfortunately, it's one of those "good but" games. GUN is good, but its Western atmosphere is disappointingly sedate. With yellow ground, brown buildings, and simple textures (why is this on 360?), it's not nearly as visually appealing as the otherwise horrible Death By Degrees on PS2. The characters are always genuinely likable or appropriately detestable, but they're too often treated as disposables. There's a nice end-game twist, but that end comes too quickly. The music is nice, but it lacks the strength to pop my eardrums or the flair to make me believe.

In short, GUN is an atmospheric Western adventure that fails at being atmospheric. This is partly because, similar to The Warriors, GUN pretty much holds your hand through every mission. It's hard to forget you're playing a game when messages keep telling you where to go and blinking targets always guide the way on your radar (Colton was apparently a brilliant inventor). The difference between GUN and The Warriors is that Rockstar's game gives its evolving levels time to suck you in. GUN can't do that. It's way too short.

When people say GUN is short, they're not talking about the number of missions. 18 is a nice number. The problem is that most of those 18 missions can be completed in just a few minutes. Compared to Devil May Cry 3's sprawling stages or Drakengard 2's 60 lengthy missions... that's not much, especially considering the amount of pre-release press (and $60 pricetag) GUN was granted. You can lengthen play-time with optional but repetitive sidequests like ranching or mail delivery, but the game still points out exactly where you need to go. It's just a matter of following the target on your radar and (usually) killing a few people with your bow or six-shooter.

Killing is the nice part. Whether slicing bandits apart with a tomahawk or trampling through gangs on horseback, GUN plays fluidly and responsively. It's a pity that the missions are so short... almost as soon as the killing begins, it's over!

~ Zany Zig Zig Time ~

Astute readers might have noticed that I highly praise a lot of old 16-bit games like Contra Hard Corps and Gaiares... games that can be beaten in a single two-hour sitting. How then can I, like the rest of the gaming world, harp on GUN's (lack of) length?

1) 18 short missions are less involving than 8 long levels. A single Gaiares level is as mentally stimulating as three from GUN. Even though it tries so hard to exude Western atmosphere, GUN's start/stop structure actually makes it less engrossing than Dan Dare's sci-fi spaceflight.

2) Good 16-bit action games -- like Contra Hard Corps -- tend to be action-packed (with dozens of enemies or environmental hazards) and fast-paced. Enemies are unexpected, so players have to constantly stay on edge. No dead time there! Dangers in GUN (even three or four random bandits) are pre-announced, so players get to relax until someone starts screaming about approaching Indians. Because of GUN's intermittent pacing, the time spent riding from one target to the next feels like dead time. Dead time is an issue no matter what generation of gaming we're talking about. It's even worse when the game is already short.

3) The better 16-bit games extended their length with replayable challenge. You often couldn't save. Sometimes you'd have to just give up and start over another day. GUN isn't tough. It's like playing a 16-bit game with save states... the danger is mitigated, and so is the game's length and power.

If I couldn't save in GUN, would I have been pissed? Oh, yes! I'd have been super-pissed! Saving is an expectation for modern 3D action games. So basically, being able to save makes GUN too easy... but if I couldn't save, I'd be irritated. How was GUN supposed to escape this vicious Catch-22?

Simple: it should have been longer. Long enough to match other (better) atmospherically-inclined 3D action games.

~ See you next time! ~

So there you have it. Despite a sizable list of design issues and a general lack of visual appeal (why is this on 360?), the game's got nice, responsive controls. Killing people is fun, and that's why I like GUN. It would make a nice nine-dollar purchase.

//Zig

Rating: 6/10

zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (February 11, 2006)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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