Well looky what we have here! If it ain't the rootinest, tootinest piece of Wild West gaming we ever did see. 'But it's just a Grand Theft Auto rip-off on a horse', we hear you holler. Not so! Sure, it's a free-roaming, open-ended GTA-style game, but it's far more than a mere rip-off. In fact, we'd bet your bottom dollar the folk at Rockstar wish they'd come up with this themselves, rather than having a developer who usually only makes games about an old man on a skateboard do it first.
Gun is the story of Colton White (that's you), a man mysteriously thrown into the middle of a power struggle between the oppressed Apache and the evil Thomas McGruder, who has his one good eye on a sacred treasure scattered throughout the land. Through a combination of bounty hunting, sharp shooting, gold mining, and plain old murder, you must build a reputation and earn enough experience to go after the enigmatic McGruder.
The game is crammed with neat ideas, and it's as nasty, authentic, and entertaining as it can be. Whether you become the next Wyatt Earp or the next wanted poster celebrity depends on how well you treat injuns and whether you like walking into towns and shooting your gun off. Start trouble, and the locals will become hostile and force you out, making it harder to scratch together a living. Of course, you can always resort to mining gold or just robbing people. Do the right thing, though, and you can take on missions, clean up the streets, or help round up cattle rustlers. Whether it's classic wagon-train skirmishes with marauding injuns, sharp-shooting the hangman's rope in a daring rescue attempt, or getting drunk, playing cards and gambling on loose women, every spaghetti western cliché has been lovingly stolen, dunked in a barrel of blood and brains, then recreated on Xbox.
For Gun is exceedingly, exquisitely violent too.Take a headshot and you'll get to see the bullet enter and exit the skull, along with bits of scalp and soft brain matter. These scenes of gore are rationed out only for special kills, though, courtesy of the Quick Draw feature. Handy for when you're in a tight spot, it slows the action down, letting you pop enemy heads one at a time.
The weapons are also cracking - from six-shooters to buffalo-felling rifles and dynamite, there's so much to play with you'd be tempted to spend the whole game killing people for cash. There are also mounted cannons and machine guns scattered across the frontier, with which to take out hordes of attacking bandits or angry bears. Just because you're between missions doesn't make the Wild West a less dangerous place to be.
Of course, if you're making Old West GTA, you need to get the transport right. Neversoft bought real horses to study their movements, and it shows - Gun has the best in-game gee-gee handling we've ever seen in a game, and that includes Barbie's Horse Adventures. They move and respond so well, their tendency to stink and attract arse-flies is forgiven. You can even trample enemies to death under your hooves if you want to save bullets.
Gun is such a rich, panoramic story, chock-full of sneering bad guys, shoot-outs, can-can girls and jailbreaks, you'll wonder why no one ever thought of it before. Pour them Neversoft brothers a few jars of moonshine - the boys done good.
Cracking stuff. A dusty, horseback GTA-style epic, with more attitude and head-popping action than you could hope for.