Developer: Neversoft Entertainment
Release Date: 11/08/2005
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Wild West games blew up in the mid-2000s. Games like Read Dead Revolver and Call of Juarez really pushed the genre forward. Gun was a highly anticipated open-world game that was being watched by Grand Theft Auto fans. I remember reading about this game in magazines leading up to its release and being disappointed with how linear and simple it was. You play Colt White who is just living day-to-day life with his father, Ned White when he dies and you get sent on a mission to avenge him which leads to a road of greed and death. The story is really simple and short. It’s honestly very one-dimensional, but the voice acting is solid with major actors like Tom Skerret and Ron Perlman.
The majority of the game is made up of shooting. As the title implies, guns are the main focus of the game. You have an array of weapon types such as six-shooters, lever-action rifles, sniper rifles (bolt-action), melee, throwables, and bows. You slowly unlock these weapons as you play the story and you can also upgrade them at the shopkeep. You can acquire more gold by finding it out in the wild or completing side missions. Side missions are the second bulk of the game ranging from bounties, poker games, and overall just shooting up more bad guys. There’s no variation in mission type outside of the names. In the end, you’re killing someone or rescuing a horse.
Horseback riding is a major gameplay element here and it’s done surprisingly well for the time. They’re treated kind of like cars in GTA. They have health meters which are also tied to stamina. Overwork your horse and it will die. You can trample enemies with the horse which is great for clearing out large groups, and they are needed to travel between the two towns. This is one disappointment I have with the game. It’s surprisingly linear and the open-endedness is an illusion. This is just one large map full of brown dust, canyons, a couple of rivers, and a meadow. The game is very dull and void of any life, unlike GTA which feels vibrant and constantly moving. There’s just the wind and twanging background music playing. The towns maybe have three or four people walking around and there are no interiors to speak of. It’s a very empty world indeed.
I highly recommend just blowing through the story mode in the 4-5 hours it takes and forgoing most upgrades. Despite having this shop system they are pretty much pointless. Sure, it helps to have more damage or quicker reloads, but the quickdraw allows you to kind of cheat and constantly use it as long as you’re killing enemies to refill it. Empty the meter. Shoot about five enemies, and empty it again. I never really saw the need for most of the upgrades. This will alleviate the pain of completing these dull side missions.
The shooting in Gun is mostly stiff and awkward. It’s not amazing. There is a sticky auto-aim and you can aim down your sights with rifles, but the camera zooms too far in and you can’t follow anyone up close. Stealth is pretty much pointless outside of a single-story mission because enemies can somehow see and hear you a mile away. The explosives were surprisingly useless as well. Enemies can stand just in front or behind an explosion and they aren’t affected. This is really terrible. There are some missions that have you mounting a cannon and you have to hit everything dead on. There is no splash damage for explosions in this game. It makes no sense.
Overall, the game is very linear, ugly, and pretty repetitive. The side missions don’t add any variation, the upgrade system can be skipped entirely, and the open world is void of life. The only redeeming value of this game is the great voice acting, many cut-scenes, and short length. The story isn’t even anything noteworthy either and the same goes for the characters. With the short length, they have no time to expand or grow on us. We get no backstory. Just the here-and-now and that means nothing when characters die. I would only recommend this game if you’re itching for a Western game and need to go back in time, but this game really did not live up to the hype upon release.