posted 12/12/2005 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Xbox

The game's length is a problem for a couple of reasons; chief among them is that everything in the story feels incredibly rushed.  You'll be introduced to characters that will die no more than a few minutes later.  The events that seems like they should be more important are often turned into short affairs, things that are quickly wrapped up before the chapter expires.  There are a lot of moments in this game that could have benefited from the developers just slowing down a bit; by the time I got to the end of the game I found myself kind of angry that this was it, they could have stretched some of these tense moments out a bit more to create a far better adventure.  The truth is, even if they doubled the length of the game it would still be considered short by today's standards.

Another big problem comes in the form of the size of the environment.  A lot of the GTA clones try to mask their imperfections by offering huge worlds to explore, but not Gun.  On horseback you can run from one side of the map in around a minute, two minutes if it's a leisurely trot.  Not only is the world small but it's also pretty boring, there are two small towns (Dodge and Empire), a couple of forts, a mountainous area, a river, and a whole bunch of flatland called the Badlands.  That's it.  Outside of those few dots on the map there isn't much else to see, so you may find yourself not wanting to explore the world quite like you would when going to Vice City or San Andreas for the first time.  Worse yet, there aren't a lot of compelling reasons to search out all of the nooks and crannies in Gun's world, which means that won't be doing a log of sight seeing after you've played through the exceptionally short single-player campaign.

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'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.

Despite its length and other problems, Gun controls remarkably well.  It's easy to aim and shoot, throw dynamite, and even take foes out with your melee attacks.  Things are even more exciting once you start using horses to your advantage.  The horseback battles are among the most entertaining parts of Gun, they offer something that you didn't find in Grand Theft Auto or any other games of the genre.  Better yet, if you're battling somebody already on a horse you have the choice of picking him off or just killing the horse and sending him flying.  These battles are by far the most satisfying part of the game … and rightfully so, they don't call the game Gun for nothing.

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