When asked to imagine life in the Wild, Wild West of old, most people conjure up rosy images of cowboys and injuns, Clint Eastwood, erm, Will Smith, Young Guns and the mighty Back to The Future Part III. It's understandable. It's Hollywood talking. But that's not what it was like at all, and Neversoft, the development team best known for its long-running Tony Hawk's series, is attempting to paint a completely different and altogether more bloody picture of the Old West in its brand new title, simply dubbed Gun.
You might have already seen Gun previously mentioned in our 360 Access section, but in this case we've been the first UK magazine to get our hands on the full Xbox version, and it's already looking promising. Essentially a third-person action adventure game, Gun sees you travelling the Old West as Colton White, a young frontiersman on a mission to discover a secret mine stuffed full of lovely prospector gold. Starting with a few simple training exercises hunting grouse and deer in the wilds of cowboy country (while watching out for wolves and bears, naturally), Gun quickly throws you from a shootout with Confederate renegades on a steam-powered paddleboat - in which your adoptive father dies - to a good old-fashioned punch-up over cards and brazen hussies in a rundown, two-bit saloon.
As soon as the bullets began to fly, we noticed the bloodthirsty, visceral elements of the game. Blood and body parts fly about like a nuclear explosion in a morgue, while dazed enemies can be finished off in spectacularly gory fashion with a quick Apache-style scalping. And as if that wasn't gruesome enough, Gun also features a 'quick draw' attack, enabling you to slow down time and zoom in on specific body target, thus ensuring that heads, arms and legs can all be blown off with lethal precision. As if you hadn't guessed already, this is going to be 18-rated stuff.
Gun isn't just an exercise in rampant violence, however. This is where the wild buffalo roam, after all, so expect some huge outdoor environments to traverse as well - and you won't even have to do it on foot. As a fully qualified cowboy you'll have your own horse to ride, and some of the best moments Gun has to offer can be found while casually swinging around in your saddle, one hand on the reins, the other wrapped around your rifle.
It's clearly a massive departure from the Tony Hawk's series, but Gun has been a pet project of Neversoft president Joel Jewett for some time now, so we're expecting it to be a real labour of love, lavished with care, attention and polish. Westerns might not be everybody's packet of jerky, but Gun makes for a pleasingly intriguing prospect.