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Loading the Gun with Neversoft

The Tony Hawk developer's non-skating game finally revealed. Enter the Wild West inside...

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Miller then demos a mission that shows Colton - in full Black Feet garb - raiding a military fort alongside several members of the tribe. He punctures several guards with arrows as he floats along a stream in a kayak, before hopping onto the banks and scalping a few more with his tomahawk. Then, abandoning the honourable rules of the tribe, he breaks out the six shooters and starts popping caps. Does the job, even if it the Chief won't be inviting you into his wigwam any time soon.

Other missions will involve herding cattle, protecting frontier farms from attack, racing horses, infiltrating opium dens, robbing banks, de-railing trains... "Anything you'd expect to be able to do in a Western game," proclaims Miller, "we have a mission or side mission that lets you do it." The idea is that these missions will lead seamlessly from one to the next, always pushing the storyline but never fencing you in with linearity. "There's no big stops between missions. The storyline keeps on driving you forward, but the free-roaming style means you can progress at your own pace."

So now that we've waited so long to find out what Neversoft had planned with Gun, what's our initial reactions? Well, the atmosphere is certainly there, and the clever merging of third- and first-person shooting conventions should mean the gunplay has a little more depth than most action games. If the free-roaming Wild West world lives up to its billing, Gun could well establish itself as the king of the wild frontier.

Publisher Activision certainly seems to be aiming high with the game and plans to invest in some impressive Hollywood support. "Activision has the money to put behind the product and believes in the product, so you can expect big name voice talent and big name soundtrack talent that fits in with the theme of Gun."

That's great, but why should we trust a company that's really only known for a skateboarding game to deliver a Western shooter good enough to pull on your chaps for? "Gun has a great learning curve that means you'll be able to keep doing fresh and cool stuff. Just like how in Tony Hawk you can take one rail and keep skating it and doing new things that you've never seen before, Gun will make you want to replay again and again until you clear that mission without drinking any whiskey, or shooting the gun out of every enemy's hand, or getting a headshot on everyone."

And should we look out for Colton as a secret character in the next Tony Hawk's game? "Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised," sighs Miller. "But can you kickflip the horse? No way!"

With that, our first full look at Gun rode into the sunset.

Gun is due this Christmas on PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Xbox 360 and PC.

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