Wild West settings offer ample opportunity to spur a stampede of clichés out of the stock corral. Sure enough, duels, saloon brawls, heart-of-gold prostitutes and scalping all play major roles in this third-person revenge tale. But slightly ridiculous tutorial levels (quail shooting?) in smalltown Dodge preface an escape into a far wider and wilder frontier, and the game soon begins to win you over in original ways.
While the story holds to cowboy conventions, it's written with wit and grace by Randal Jahnsen, and the quality of cutscenes means you really root for gritty hero Colton White as he develops from quiet poacher to wisecracking gunslinger. The graphics won't amaze you as much as some other Xbox 360 launch games, with fl at, tessellated textures and architecture too clean-edged to always convince, but the varied gameplay and compelling plot take the edge off this like shots from an old-timer's whisky still.
Your pistols see plenty of action; every hard-earned kill you walk away from slakes revengeful bloodlust until the plot tops you up again. Constantly outnumbered, firstperson Quick Draw is a welcome device. It's Gun's bullet time, accrued by taking down bad guys and spent by clicking RB to slow time but aim fast. Line up rapid-fire headshots to maximise this temporary advantage.
Travelling Gun's vast prairies, mastery of your horse becomes essential and opens up fun and rewarding sub-missions. Structured to increase your stats and earn money for weapons, these also hone skills for the main game. Perfecting tighter rein control (affecting speed and stamina of your horse) while herding cattle really pays off when you're called upon to protect a stagecoach.
It's the carefully judged pace and variety of Gun that tightens your grip on its pommel and adds the real beauty to the sunset you'll pause to enjoy after a grueling shootout. Despite the game's graphical shortcomings, it's also a sunset you'll walk into with a sense of revenge well earned and well taken.
Not real pretty, but a heart of gold!