Preview By: Andrew Joy
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You know the old saying, " A [insert outrageously high-numbered group here] can't be wrong? Well, lets hope it holds true for Gun, which has been described by, well, almost everyone as Grand Theft Auto in the Old West. Just the idea of that will either disgust you or, like me, send your mind reeling with all the possibilities. Regardless, it is an idea that developer Neversoft, of Tony Hawk Pro Skater fame, has seen the promise in and they intend to deliver.
As Colton White you are out for revenge and the truth in a story written by Mask of Zorro scriptwriter Randall Jahnson. Shortly before you witness your father's untimely death, you find out he wasn't your father at all! Now, in his quest for answers (and a lost city of Incan gold), Colton must face-off, and sometimes work together with, less-than-honest lawmen, vengeful Native Americans, a gold-obsessed man of the cloth, deranged Civil War veterans, ladies of the night and even nature itself. Gun has it all, and this kind of variety extends right on through the rest of the game, from the full roster of people you meet, to the weapons at your disposal, to the myriad of quests you can do along the way.
Naturally in a game such as this the weapons play an integral part, having to be somewhat true to the time period and believable, being fun to use and having enough variety to keep the player from getting bored. Never fear, for Neversoft has you covered, gun aficionados and mindless gunslingers alike. In addition to several secret weapons hidden in the game, and his trusty six shooter, Colton will also get his hands on shotguns, rifles, bow and arrows, dynamite and more.including the new-to-the-era Gatling gun! Aiding Colton in this lawless land of shoot first and ask questions later is Quickdraw Mode, the new bullet-time for the Old West. Unlike typical bullet-time moments though, when you activate Quickdraw Mode it is extended longer and longer for shots of precision and style, such as shooting the gun right out of your opponent's hand.
When you are not gunning down foes in the main quest, you can gun down foes in the side quests. The side quests in Gun are just as varied as any you would expect from GTA, just set in the Old West. At one point you become the law, keeping the peace in the frontier and breaking up crime rings. In similar play-for-good missions, you can also rescue innocents and accept bounty missions to hunt down the guilty, offering you a chance to fill your pockets while serving the greater good. Of course, if a heavy wallet is all you're worried about, the game gives you plenty of opportunity to get one. You can play Texas Hold 'Em Poker (and even cheat!); mine for gold and even fulfill that primal need to hunt, selling the skins for high profit. And this is just a sampling of the side quests available to you, side quests that will unlock those hidden weapons and actually improve your gameplay!
As for the gameplay, well, no one will really know for sure until the final product is released in November. However, from what we have seen you can expect some fast paced (or slow, depending on how you decide to use Quickdraw Mode) gun slinging action, either on horseback, from mounted weapons, or in the middle of a crowded gunfight. Surprisingly, what we have seen of Gun may also be a problem for some, as the graphics on the Xbox 360 version of Gun don't seem much improved over those of the current generation of consoles. This may come as a disappointment for those expecting more from the high-definition era of the next generation - though you must keep in mind that this was being developed for the current systems. It is not clear whether Gun will get the visual boost for the Xbox 360 that it deserves, not with the system and game launch looming so near. Not to say this will be a problem or concern for the rest of us, who have been happily playing past Grand Theft Auto games for several years now with little in the way of improved visuals. On par with what the Xbox 360 has to offer or not, Gun will take you to some very lush, very vast locales, including Montana, Kansas and New Mexico.
Activision obviously thinks Gun will be a hit, as it's hired on several big-name voice actors to give life to the main characters. The Punisher's Thomas Jane will voice hero Colton White, Kris Kristofferson will voice Colton's father, and even Tom Skerritt makes an appearance as Resistance Fighter Clay Allison among several other actors. The music score is also high-budget, with performances by the 80 piece Northwest Sinfonia orchestra.
Not surprisingly to myself, I find that I am very excited over this game, just as many are who have hoped for more straight-forward westerns over the years, and I am impressed by how the game is shaping up for something that came right out of left field. Gun is an ambitious project, which has turned out to be a problem for games in the past, so we will just have to wait and see how some of the integral gameplay elements, such as said horseback combat, turn out and whether the graphics will utilize the Xbox 360's power. What looks to be a great success for Neversoft may end up being a double-edged sword for gamers though. On the one hand gamers may get one hell of a great game, but on the other hand, its success will undoubtedly mean they'll milk every last penny out of this potential cash cow just as they did with the Tony Hawk franchise. However, variety is the spice of life, and already Gun is looking, hot, hot, hot! And, if the first game is any indication, Neversoft may be able to keep the series fresh for a while before it rides off into the sunset.
Posted: 2005-09-30 21:23:30PST