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GUN (GameCube) artwork

GUN (GameCube) review

"Life's never been fair, it'll never be fair, and it sure as hell wasn't fair in the Wild West. But thatís Gun: true to the real."

Hollywoodís got a love affair going on with the West, like itís the end-all be-all world of justice. Good guys won, bad guys lost; good guys get good girls, bad guys get shot in the crotch. Heroes wore fedoras and had few words to say, villains dressed in black and couldnít figure out how to shut up. Makes for good movies. All wrong, though.

The only thing cut and dry about the real West was the land. Love had a price that often charged by the hour, and justice wasnít much better. Want a golden rule? You got gold, you make rules.

Life's never been fair, it'll never be fair, and it sure as hell wasn't fair in the Wild West. But thatís Gun: true to the real.

A lone cowboy tears through the prairie, a horse beneath him, a blazing sun above,a rising dust cloud behind. Signs of life are rare, but they do exist; he stumbles onto a buffalo herd, passes a ranch, maybe a pack of wolves on the horizon, searching for their meal. Gun is an open world, boundless, alive in some places, dead in others.

The forests can lose a man; swallow him in the brush and shade. Waterfalls trickle into streams that flow into waterfalls again, rushing ver the hooves of a passing horse. Rough dirt paths mark the way, the occasional cabin, but by and large it's an untamed land, a true wilderness.

The vast plains are weak in life but great in majesty; the mountains, the plateaus, the foothills and the valleys all give the landscape power, the kind of power that lends to a great painter's work.

The world begs to be explored, it welcomes the changes the challenge. The horizon wants you to ride to it. Thatís Gun; a seamless environment, the kind of world that is what it looks like.

The sights aren't just for seeing, though. A story needs a setting and a setting needs a story.

Itís all about a man with a gun, a roughneck named Colton. He leads a simple life with his father; hunting all day, selling the kills to passing ferries, making a mint. Doesnít last. They get attacked by some scrags, renegades, guys who canít seem to figure out that they lost the Civil War. They get hounded, trapped on the ferry, fighting for their lives while the rebs slaughter everyone on board. Colton escapes, his father stays and fights. The ferry sinks, destroyed. And Colton, floating down the river, close to death, sees it all happen. His whole way of life, drifting away down the might Mississippi, leaving only one question: Why?

He has a rough time finding the answers; throats'll be slit, heads'll be scalped, body parts are going to be ripepd from their body. Gun is raw, crude; ears get cut offf, fingers get shot off, heads get blown off. Unedited, unfiltered. Colton winds up on the business end more than once.

But it can be helped. True, what happens to Colton during the story is going to happen regardless, but the game has plenty of ways to keep safe in-play.

You'll have the best weapons an outlaw could ask for, top of the line for their time. The shotgun can blow a hole in a man's chest wide enough for a cat to walk through. Sniper rifles, primitive version of the modern day things that do the job just as well. Bow and arrows, for when you don't want to be heard until you want to be heard. You can even get your hands on cannons and gatling guns, perfect for murder in large nubmers.

But it wouldn't be the West without handguns. Easy to carry and quick to load, balancing power and speed. Not the mention the Quick Draw.

This ain't Red Dead Revolver; there's no timer, no sequence you need to get down pat. When Colton goes to Quick Draw, he goes to first-person. Time cuts in half; slow enough for him to shoot, fast enough that getting shot is still a worry. Colton aims and the game helps; letting him hone in on targets, changing focus with a flick of the control stick.

Aim. Headshot. Flick. Aim. Headshot. Flick. Aim. Headshot. Flick. Three outlaws fall, one outlaw stands: Colton.

He can't hold the Quick Draw forever, but the time extends with each kill, letting him keep the advantages so long as he keeps the body count high. Seven kills in seven seconds, easily done.

Colton needs more than skill, though; he needs strength and he needs to get stronger. He needs to look for work, do side jobs, scour the wild yonder for bounties or wild game and reap the rewards. Success makes him stronger, upgrades his abilities, makes him tough enough to deal with badder badasses. Money lets him up the arsenal; weapons hit harder, load faster, shoot farther.

The better he gets, the better his chances, but the odds always tip against him. Assaults can come at any side from any angle at any time. Radar helps, but it won't do everything. It won't tell him who's got a gun, who's charging with a tomahawk raised, or who's throwing a lit stick of dynamite his way. It won't tell him what weapon they'll have, how outmatched he'll be. It won't tell him if they're coming on horseback or running on foot.

He's got to find out for himself. Always.

But that's what the West was about: Adaptation. Things get tough, you get tougher. A man punches you in the face; you put a bullet in his. Itís the land of the quick and the dead. GUN captures that better than any game before it.

And it all starts off with a prayer, too. Love the irony.

Our Father
who art in heaven
hallowed be thy name
thy kingdom come
thy will be done...

lasthero's avatar
Staff review by Zack Little (January 06, 2006)

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