Gun Showdown

Review

posted 11/3/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP
It's also worth mentioning that Gun's cities look a lot like ghost towns, with no civilians to be seen anywhere. The console version of Gun didn't have a lot of people in the cities either, but at least there were a few to make it look like it was a real city. In Gun Showdown you get the feeling like you're the only one there, everybody else must be hiding or something. This isn't a big deal since you can't interact with the people in the game, but it is a bit strange to ride into a town and not have anybody there to meet you.
 
Outside of the story missions you'll be given a few different mini-games to play in order to waste some time, earn some extra money, and increase your character's stats. Given the game's length I was really hoping that these bonus missions would flesh the experience out more, but unfortunately they really don't. Thankfully they come in a number of varieties, so at least you aren't stuck doing the same kind of thing over and over. For example, you can search out wanted posters that will tell you who to kill and it's your job to hunt them down and redeem your reward. In another game you become a member of the Pony Express, quickly rushing packages back and forth (and trying not to get killed on the way). You can also become a federal marshal, go mining, and even try your hand at ranching.
 
Perhaps the best mini-game I found was Gun Showdown's built in Texas Hold 'Em competition. The layout isn't very snazzy and it's a little too easy to win against these stupid computer poker players, but it's a fun diversion that is a lot more interested than trying to find gold in the extremely dull environment. Early on you are even able to cheat, something you don't see in most poker games. But like everything else in Gun, these poker games are over far too quickly and you can't go back and play them again once you've won.
 
Learning how to play Gun Showdown is going to take some time, but if you give it a chance you may find that the control scheme makes a lot of sense. On the console Gun used nearly every button and analog stick on the control, but without all of the buttons and the second analog stick Rebellion was forced to come up with back up plan. I'm not going to say that Gun Showdown's control scheme is ideal, but after awhile it starts to make sense.  You control your character with the analog stick and aim with the PSP's four face buttons. You can cycle through your weapons by simply pushing the left button on the D-pad, but if you hold it you can select exactly the weapon you want. In fact, most of the buttons used in this game have different functions if you quickly push them or hold them down. With so many different functions mapped to so few buttons the control scheme is going to confuse most people at first, it took me a couple hours before I ended up getting the hang of it (and not accidentally drinking my life potion instead of selecting a different weapon).
 
I'm not a big fan of using the PSP's face buttons to aim my weapon; it doesn't feel natural and is hard when you need to be accurate. But the good news is that you rarely need to use those face buttons when your in battle. By pushing the up button on the D-pad you jump into a mode called Quickdraw, this is where time slows down and you go into a first-person perspective making it easier to aim at your enemies. What makes Quickdraw especially effective is that you don't even need to aim, just pushing left and right on the analog stick will automatically aim your guns at your foes and you never run out of bullets. You can only stay in this mode for a short while, but the more enemies you kill the longer you get to stay in this mode. If you're savvy you can take out nearly every bad guy in the game with this mode, which can really make aiming in this game a breeze. The Quickdraw mode doesn't nearly as cheap in this PSP version as it did on the console, but that may have more to do with my overwhelming hatred for using the face buttons to aim.
 
For what it's worth you can switch the controls around so that you walk with the face buttons and aim with the analog stick. This set up actually works better than the default settings, but make no mistake about it, this is in no way a perfect control scheme. It's better to just use the Quickdraw and fuss with the manual aiming only when it's vitally important.
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