Red Dead Revolver by Rockstar was the first game truly set in the wild west which worked well. Although a booming movie business, Westerns haven't really taken the gaming world by storm by any stretch and it has taken two quality developers to show it can be done. Neversoft, best known for their skateboarding exploits, is behind the game and it has taken years of development to produce. It has paid off because despite its flaws, GUN remains one of the best action games on the Xbox.
GUN tells the story of a young cowboy, Colyton, who witnesses his father's murder aboard a steamboat while traveling around hunting animals. Just before his death, his so called father tells him that he is in fact not his father, and Colyton sets off to not only discover who killed this man and why, but who his mother and father really is. The cinematic values of this game can not be overstated, Neversoft have put a huge effort in to the storyline and presentation and it is what makes GUN a must play game, rather than a casual rental. Throughout you will meet some interesting characters such as the typical one eyed bad guy and while they may seem stereotyped, they combine to make the storyline play out in a believable, addictive way.
Gun features a large variety of gameplay but most of the time you will find yourself on foot in a third person perspective. In many ways the game mimics Red Dead Revolver, but that was always going to be the case given the setting. GUN however takes RDR to the next level introducing some fun mini games to play as well as some tough brutal combat which makes up the crux of the game.
Generally, you will find the missions task you with moving from A to B or taking out a number of enemies. At the most basic level GUN is a very repetitive game, but the environments and storyline is what keeps it fresh.
As well as the on foot combat, Neversoft have included some of the best horse riding mechanics seen in a game. You have full control of the horse and throughout will have many battles while on horseback. The game is also free roaming in an open world. As you progress further, you unlock more and more of the map but there really is nothing to stop you riding around just partaking in the mini games and forgetting about the storyline if you so desire. The mini games are also influenced by the wild west with cards and gambling being the order of the day. The game is fairly easy to play with an auto aim system known as "quick draw", but it is possible to ignore this to give yourself more of a challenge.
One thing we will say about GUN is that it is not afraid to pull any punches. It is one of the more violent games around and there are a few scenes throughout which are set to shock. The violence however doesn't stray from the wild west theme and never really gets over the top, although id does feature positional damage and you can only imagine what that does to the violence level in the game. We'll give you a hint - limbs are not glued to enemy bodies. One problem that some may have with the game in terms of replay value is a lack of multiplayer. Considering this game is also available on the Xbox 360 without multiplayer, it is a little disappointing, especially when this game took quite a while to put together.
Neversoft have succeeded in putting together a truly lush environment to set the game in. From the opening cinematic with sprawling, uncivilized lands with wild animals, through to the busiest towns in the game, the atmosphere always evokes a very strong western feeling. As I said earlier, the game could have turned out quite repetitive, but it's the sum of all its parts which makes it such a top game, and one of the most crucial factors in achieving this quality was producing a superb environment. It's nice to see Neversoft can produce things other than skate parks.
As expected the visuals are fantastic. The character models are incredibly detailed and again carry across the Western theme very well. The draw distance is miles and miles, and there is not a hint of framerate drop all the way through and considering there can be about ten enemies on screen at once as well as the actual environment where the action is taking place, this is quite an achievement for a console of this generation. The sound effects are even better with some of the best voice acting seen in this style of game. Kris Kristofferson lent his voice to the game and the other voice actors are just as apt in delivering a performance which increases the atmosphere of the game ten fold.
GUN really is a game that had no hype behind it until the last few months and perhaps that's how it should always be. Neversoft have shaken off the shackles of the skateboarding genre and while they will continue to produce those, it is clear that they are a developer with a bright future, especially if GUN is anything to go by.