Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West review
Your ping is too high
If you're a Steam user, you've probably been given the option to try out this game for the past few days. To be honest, I wouldn't have even acknowledged this game's existence if I wasn't given the beta, and after buying and playing it, I felt that, aiming and connection woes aside, this was a fun game to play through. Unfortunately, while I said it was fun to play through, well, let's just say that there's a huge emphasis on "play", because if you don't live in a highly populated area where everybody is playing this game, you'll notice that-- hey, let's just get on with the review!
Lead And Gold is a class based third person shooter that happens to be online only. All I can say is "sweet", because at least it doesn't have some half assed five hour long campaign, meaning that they got their priorities straight. Seriously, why bother with a single player campaign when all it's going to be is some lame snoozefest that only lasts a handful of hours (ie. Call Of Duty 5-7 and possibly beyond)? Little rant aside, the game has what you'd expect in a game like Team Fortress 2 or Monday Night Combat WITH COWBOYS (hmm... kind of like how Red Dead Redemption is kind of like Grand Theft Auto with cowboys) - different match types, classes, and obviously, battlefields to shoot each other on with a wild west theme.
Before a match can begin, you must select a battlefield. I mean, what else are you going to fight on? You have six maps to choose from. You have a small town with a Saloon and a place for hanging (unfortunately, not the sort of hanging that you'd want to do with your friends). Then there's a map with some mine shafts - and if you want inside the mines, there's a map for that. Each of the maps have their own little nooks and crannies to give them some identity in amongst themselves both aesthetically and in terms of map layout... it never feels like a series of halls with some open areas for kicks copied and pasted several times with different graphics..
Afterwards, you'll obviously have to choose a match type. Each map has their own selection of match types, as the developers don't reckon ALL types work well in every map - but in total, there are six to experience. You have a standard deathmatch that's called Shootout where you guys kill each other in teams. Next is Conquest, where you'll need to take over enemy waypoints in a certain, easy to follow order. Then there's Powder Keg, where one team has to destroy certain objects with powdered kegs while the other team has to defend. These are pretty standard as far as these kinds of games go, and this game goes to show that they still work as well as they have been since their inception.
Then you have ones based more on gold - remember, getting lots of gold was the aim of any person who lived on the old west. Gold made (and probably still makes) the world go round! So why not dedicate the other three to this prospect!? A quick look at Robbery will suggest that it's Powder Keg + gold, because one team has to blow up the bank and steam a few bars of gold, while the other team has to prevent the bank from blowing up. Then comes Greed, which has teams competing to get a gold sack into their team drop zone, and let me tell you... it can get hectic, like any game of capture the flag should be! Finally, there's Gold Fever, which has you (and a teammate, if you so desire) gathering up as much gold as possible while fending off AI controlled enemies. Gold Fever is more for those who don't like playing with up to nineteen other people, but would rather just hang with another person or even on their own.
As a class based game, obviously, there will be classes - four, to be exact (dang, I was hoping for six... get it? 666, the number of the beast?). This might sound bad because Team Fortress 2 has nine, but don't fret, because the four classes make up for most of this. You have the deputy, who uses a repeater carbine rifle and can tag opposing team members so that their teammates can keep an eye out for them. You have the blaster, who wields a double barrel shotgun and some dynamite while being a bit of a tank... and like a tank, they're slow. Then there's the gunslinger, the class that wields a revolver with rapid fire and deadly accuracy. Finally, you have trappers... which is kind of a silly name, because they have sniper rifles and can deliver critical hits... oh wait, they can also set traps, I see.
Amongst unique weapons and abilities, classes also have synergies, which empower teammates around them. For instance, the gunslinger's accuracy can be shared around with other teammates, the blaster's defence, the trapper's increased critical hit ratio, and the deputy's extra power. This actually gives the game a little more substance, as it really forces you to stay nearby in order to reap the benefits of certain classes' abilities.
One thing that I found very disappointing at first was the lack of horses. I mean, this IS the wild west, after all, and it'd only make sense to be able to ride on a horse and drive by some saps, wild west style! It'd remind me of Warhawk on the PS3 and how you can take command of an aerial vehicle to shoot everyone down, provided they don't spot you first with their rocket launchers. But nope. Afraid not, bucko. I'm afraid the synergies are the only things you'll see that gives this game some sort of identity in a sea of online only class based third person shooters. But then again, I suppose they didn't want to risk the possibility of getting protested and even banned for "promoting" animal cruelty... mostly because horses die from gunshots, and people may accidentally gun them down.
So yeah, the lack of horses wasn't a problem... the aiming may be, though, as it is as sensitive as a PS3 fanboy. For some reason, even after some fiddling with the sensitivity bar, it still has a knack for going all over the place. It's trickier to get a decent shot than it should be. To be fair, you can get used to this, but at first, this will give you some issues. Now, yeah, there is a method that can help, but it requires opening up a .xml file in the game's settings folder inside the data folder and putting in some code... come on, that's ridiculous. Just get used to the sensitivity!
I wish that was it. Unfortunately, that's the least of your worries, as there will be some connection issues that you'll encounter. Yes... connection issues. What's meant by this is that at times, your ping would be considered too high to join a server, as a decent chunk of servers limit the amount of ping you can have on your modem. Now, if you're unsure, ping measures distance between your server and a host server, and the higher the ping, the laggier things can get.. see, if you have high ping and you're playing online, you'll lag. You won't notice it, though you may notice them lagging, and vice versa. Now, having a ping limit may seem like an excellent thing, especially with a surge of people playing (well, it SHOULD increase after that weekend beta deal), in essence, it actually makes the game nigh on unplayable. I don't know about you, but constantly receiving what I'm starting to consider the infamous "Your Ping Is Too High" middle fingers in your face message is something that ends up pissing me off. I don't play games to get pissed off; I play games to relieve stress and have fun, like everybody else who plays this game (seriously, this community doesn't care to be all that competitive and you won't want to punch their faces in anytime soon.. okay, there's always the one person, but it beats the one person who plays an online match for fun while everybody else orgasms over easy victories and gets pissy over otherwise fair defeats).
The graphics aren't too shabby. The environments and models look like something out of Counter Strike with maybe a couple of texture layers added to make them look like something that was made in 2010, and to be fair, it looks aesthetically pleasing, but nothing impressive. On top of that, some animations look pretty awkward... Depending on what server you can actually get into, you'll either experience a lot of lag, or maybe some here and there. Either way, whether or not you're on a dedicated server (and god help you if the host leaves on a non dedicated server...), lag will be inevitable, unless it's just a match between your whole neighbourhood... even a little lag is still lag, people, and it will occur...
The sound department is okay. The guns sound like something out of a 60s western movie. I don't expect realistic sounding guns like what you'd hear from Killzone or Resistance, but it's just really, really distracting to hear some cheesy sounding guns... thank god you can turn the sound effects volume down and listen to the music. The music sounds nice, although it doesn't really... fit. I'm also disappointed in the lack of awesome voice overs. Given the arcade-y style of the gameplay, this would've given the overall game a lot more personality than simple death grunts. The music seems a little too calm for what is meant to be an intense shoot em up session. It seems more fit for menus rather than in the midst of battle. That said, it at least sounds nice.. just unfitting, that's all..
It's a shame that getting into a match is harder than actually playing the game. Lead And Gold has the makings of a slick online class based third person shooter for those who love the old west and are starting to get sick of Team Fortress 2.
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