Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gun (360)

Another one that should probably go in the "if you haven't played it by now, you probably have no interest in it" bin. Except I hadn't played it until the other day.

The lazy synopsis is "GTA in the wild west" - ie it's got a free-roaming world, a series of story missions, and a bunch of side activities that you can do for fun and profit. Except in the west, which is nice, since I think there should be more western themed games - it's a cool setting, and people nonchalantly killing each other with revolvers over a minor slight is much cooler than shooting aliens with space machine guns.

The controls are a bit weirdly mapped in places, which means that general shooty-game functions like reloading or crouching aren't anywhere near where you would expect. They seem to have done this so that controls needed in both on-foot and riding schemes don't move between modes - which is a very good idea - but I can't help but think there could have been a more natural mapping.

The horses are very nice, which is pretty important since you use and see them a lot. You have more direct control over your steed than in Shadow of the Colossus, and it still animates smoothly and moves pretty much how you would expect of a horse. So a definite thumbs up to the horse team.

The graphics are okay - it's pretty in places, but definitely "last gen" pretty - you can tell it's an early port. The time-cycle is a bit odd too, and almost feels added as an afterthought. The game has no real concept of time, it's just that some levels are set at night, some at dawn or dusk, and most are midday - which is incredibly jarring when you accept a mission and suddenly time skips about. If they could have got it to cycle constantly it could well have given the game some spectacular views.

As well as the nicely told story missions, you get a helping of side activities too, of the "go here within a time-limit", or "kill these people" type. They have little story-lines running through each activity, which is nice since it gives you a real feel of progression, and the levels unlock as you go through the story, so you can't just hammer through them all in one go.

I also really like that it gives you a quick brief of the mission, and then asks if you want to take it, so if it turns out the next one sounds boring, you can put it off. Your character gains skills from completing these, but it's very gradual so I never noticed any increases in ability. It would have been better to have more discrete advances, as in Crackdown, to give you a better sense of the character advancing.

I'll take a brief moment here to soap-box a bit: Texas hold 'em mini-games are probably the laziest content you can put in a game. Seriously, unless you're actually making a card or casino game, just don't bother. For a start there are better poker engines than yours, so people who want to play poker will most likely play those (and probably be winning actual money from it, too). And what of those poor players who find themselves crawling through boring hand after boring hand, playing characters who make incredibly suspect decisions and don't seem to have any memory, unsure as to why they need to play cards in order to complete the guns-n-horses action game they bought? They will hate you, that's what.

Similar to (but even moreso than) Crackdown, though, this is a game that could do with end-game content. I can understand certain side-missions, like the pony express, having an 'end', but surely the deputy will always have some trouble makers to pacify? Once you complete the missions there is literally nothing to do except ride around and shoot the occasional bandits who attack you.

Anyway, you can almost certainly get it dirt cheap now, so if you like open-world games it's well worth it. I hope they're making a sequel.

No comments: