As an Xbox 360 launch title, GUN did little to impress prior to release. Having been kept securely under lock-and-key by Activision since the first muttered words at E3 2005, the title flew into the loop in November as one of the holiday challengers. Competing with Ubisoft’s Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones and EA’s Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Nintendo’s Battalion Wars and Mario Smash Football. It wasn’t a light period for big names. Having been previewed for the GameCube and PlayStation 2 far ahead of its Xbox 360 unveiling, it was thought that some renovation was being included with the highly anticipated next-gen launch. Well, that wasn’t the case. GUN was a lazy next-generation port, marking the beginning of a trend that lives on to this day.

The mid-2000’s was an era in which Activision had made plenty of hits. Having been a force since the NES, the publisher brought a range of titles in a variety of genres. This, of course, was prior to Call of Duty‘s breakout success. In a time when the industry was maturing and publishers were dropping like flies, Activision had made their play. And they’d done it well.

Although it could have been said that their general release schedule – at any point in the year – would show a list with titles ranging from good to unacceptably underdeveloped, the honour of being one of the largest publishing forces in the industry couldn’t have been denied to them then as it couldn’t now. It’s with this honour that titles such as GUN managed to surface. A game that breaks the mould while at the same time disappointing early adopters of new hardware.

GUN screenshot

Get Your GUN

GUN takes place in the Wild West. It delivers the adventure of Colton White on a quest for revenge. He’s also trying to piece together the missing parts of his past. But, more importantly, revenge. After a very brief training mission, the title open fires and plunges you into a shoot-out on a steamboat, a set-piece that cuts above many other titles’ opening scenes. With a fair-sized map and an explicitly detailed plot – mostly about revenge – GUN spurs through twisting mission objectives, cutscenes and side quests in a fashion far more expansive than 2004’s Red Dead Revolver. Although not without having taken its inspiration, of course.

The boss fights in particular, whilst taking place in general map terrain as opposed to some inaccessible shack or canyon, are structured as a set-piece reminiscent of each mission available in Red Dead Revolver. However GUN clearly has more stamina, freedom and ingenuity. The side quests are split into several categories, including Pony Express, Wanted Posters and Marshal Missions. Each vary in objective and each reward with experience points. Pony Express missions see you dashing back-and-forth obtaining and returning a desired object within a time limit. Wanted Posters will set you either an individual or a gang to hunt down. Dead or alive. Or specifying which is to be the desired preference. Marshal/Sheriff Missions require you to run errands, defend public figures or generally defend the particular town from invaders.

GUN screenshot

Zelda with Guns

GUN on Xbox 360 features a desert that acts as the hub. Just as it does on every other format. For the best part of the title, it’s the story taking you from town-to-town. The desert represents a more The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time-esque land of distance and voyage, opposed to the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas approach. And is all the better for it. Creating a captivating space full of bandits and wanted criminals; street punks and bystanders generally avoiding any participation in the on-screen action.

This world is open to exploration at will. Until it isn’t. But the game does give you fair warning as to when there’s no turning back. The saddest part is that – in comparison to today’s open world standard – there’s actually very little to do outside of the clearly laid out mission objectives.

GUN is one of those titles that seemingly appeared out of nowhere and grabbed attention. Through doing this, it obviously dictates as to whether a game ultimately succeeds or fails. If expectations rise too high it may be inevitable that the game will disappoint. Although GUN would be considered ridiculously short by Grand Theft Auto aficionados, it’s a relative length for a story-led adventure title. There’s room for enough twists-and-turns in the plot without disenfranchising the player, nor to create a distancing from the on-screen avatar. There are also many of the side quests throughout the game. Some of these add some nice spice and longevity to the title with a few of the Xbox 360’s Achievements revolving around them. Practically the only thing the then next-generation port did differently…

GUN screenshot

GUN Goes Bang on Xbox 360, and Everywhere Else

Although the graphics are clearly polished, and of an incredibly high standard for the time, they are exactly the same as those seen in the simultaneously produced Xbox version. Another piece of the multi-generational puzzle is the loading time. GUN on Xbox 360 was quick enough to be ignored, but often twice as long as the GameCube equivalent, quite ridiculous. The camera enters a close, over-the-shoulder type camera when your weapon is drawn; clearly inspired by the original Resident Evil 4, although placed closer to the Hitman series on screen, allowing the view of many of the high-polygon models in a wide-angle. The character models, for the best-part, are animated very well. Though the enemies do seem to have an uncanny ability to slide in-and-out of cover whilst squatting. Whilst the soundtrack is mostly ignorable, the voice acting is brilliant and the sound of metal tearing through flesh is spot-on.

GUN is a very enjoyable western romp. Yet, it’s hard to see it not having disappointed those who had just purchased GUN for their shiny new Xbox 360. It wasn’t the only title to dump a port for Xbox 360 launch. Indeed, most of Activision’s line-up was just so. But as a brand new IP it stood out from the crowd. Nowadays there are often optimisations and such that bare the consumer brunt of multi-generational releases. But back in 2005 GUN was the same GUN, wherever you chose to play it.

Categories: Games