GunAh GUN, this old title from the team at Neversoft holds a special place in my heart. As a fan of everything western ranging from Rio Bravo to Deadwood I've always felt that the genre has been under represented in the video game marketplace. Red Dead Revolver had dropped the previous year, but considering it came from Rockstar it was considered by many to be a small (but still fun) disappointment. Then Neversoft comes along and starts touting GUN, the game that RDR should have been, an open world title in the same vein as GTA. While GUN ultimately falls short of the series it emulates, it does manage to stand out from the pack.
The story of GUN; like most good westerns, is deceptively simple. Colton Whites father Ned is killed at the start of the game, and Colton's out for the blood of the men who caused it. From there the story unfolds at a breakneck pace that includes ancient artifacts, prison breakouts, and interrupted hangings. Voice acting is of high quality for all the major players and all the credit must go to the voice actors for endearing these characters to you as the plot doesn't really give most (any besides Colton) characters any time to develop. Yeah you might find yourself a little cheesed when Jenny the whore is killed but that's because of a well written script and a great performance by the voice actor.
So while the story is good it is pretty typical for a western and while it shows it's hand too early (Colton can mysteriously understand Apache? I wonder what that means....) it is entertaining and it definately gets the job done.
Graphically like most multi-platform games from the previous generation, GUN has not aged too well. Even at the time of release the visuals most likely were described as 'unimpressive' at worst and 'serviceable'. Exclusive titles from much earlier on in the Gamecubes lifespan like Mario Sunshine and Star Fox Adventures look better multiple times over, and the fact that much of GUNs world is barren and empty doesn't help matters. However being able to shoot chunks out of peoples faces, along with dismembering arms and legs does help give the game some personality.
Luckily though when it comes to gameplay GUN manages to redeem itself. The game is a standard third person shooter, although it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. The first being the ability to lean to your left and right while you shoot. Why more games don't allow this is a mystery to me, as it works out great in place of a cover system. Quick draw is the other major alteration and it slows down time as Colton whips out his six shooter and starts letting the lead fly, as he switches between targets with the flick of a stick and loses the need to reload.
There is also a melee attack and you can grab enemies as human shields if they've been stunned. Horseback riding works eerily similiar to red dead but instead of bucking you off, your trusty steed will just drop dead if you ride him too hard. Boss fights harken back to the olden days where once you've figured out the pattern you're golden and each time you down a boss you gain possession of their signature weapon.
A few technical mishaps like loose aiming sensitivity and too large of a crosshair are minor annoyances but they aren't game breaking.
Unfortunately the GC controller just doesn't have as many buttons as its brethern and as a result a few issues arise. It's not enough to detract from the experience but having played the game previously on the ps2 using down on the directional pad to use your iron sights just feels odd to me.
Side missions feel like they were tacked on to extend the games short length and while it is wise to do a few of them to get stat upgrades, it won't be long before they will start to bore you. And then once you've completed the story their really isn't anything compelling enough to keep you coming back for more. On its own merits these extras are nothing incredible, and are a bit bland. But when compared against the 2-ton gorrila in the room (Red Dead Redemption) they are downright pitiful. You can tell R* looked at Gun for inspiration as hunting, texas hold em, and bounty hunting were all here before being used in R*s blockbuster. The difference being that in GUN these activities (and more) really aren't all that fun.
All in all GUN is really just an average action game that benefieted from its unique setting and the lack of westerns in the video game marketplace. If you're a lover of everything western and you go around spouting phrases such as "I'm your huckleberry" like me then I've got a feeling that you may find GUN to be entertaining. Everybody else can rest easy if they haven't played it as it isn't anything special. That being said I would love to see what Neversoft could do if they were given the chance to do a sequel.