Fair warning: every second you spend reading this review is a second you've wasted by not playing Gun.
Neversoft and Activision's new Western fires on all cylinders. It nails the atmosphere and throws you into the plot right off the bat via an easy tutorial segment. Here you learn how to fire your gun, use the slow-motion Quickdraw feature, and move yourself around. You get a good dose of the kind of humor and drama the game is going to give you, as well, through the dialogue between your character and his father. Of course, this is a video game, and games need conflict. You soon end up alone, with nothing but your guns, a horse, the clothes on your back and a thirst for both answers and revenge
Honestly, what more does a cowboy need?
Gun is a pretty game. Sure, it's got a bit of that Old West grit in the graphics, but it all looks extraordinarily good for a current generation game. The textures are clear and detailed. The animation is on point. Characters swagger in and speak volumes with their body language. The frame rate never takes a hit, not even when you're in a smoky, burning building surrounded by a gang of baddies while you're running around on fire. I didn't make that up, by the way, that happens fairly early on in the game.
Everyone's voices are well-acted and fit each character very well. I didn't notice anyone sleepwalking through their roles, overacting, or even acting poorly. There's a great cast at work here, and it shows. Arguments and fights sound just right, and the Hollywood-style score pulls it all in together to make a cohesive whole. The generic enemies are even well-acted, though the Native Americans' shrill war cry is somehow simultaneously cringe-inducing and terrifying. The incidental shouts and curses from your enemies all show to go the care that was put into the voice work.
Gun isn't exactly your great-grandfather's Gene Autry-style Westerns. People die in this game, and they die big. Rapid-fire guns tend to reduce people to their component chunky bits. When you shoot your foes, expect them to bleed and possibly curse a little bit. If you're lucky, they'll literally lose their head. You meet the kind of girl you wouldn't want to bring home to momma fairly early on, as well. Expect a fair level of un-politically correct language and probably a bit of gratuitous innuendo for your trouble.
Great atmosphere and acting doesn't mean all that much if your game is no good, but Gun delivers there, as well. The third-person action is easy to get into and rarely will you run into camera problems. Health is handled by a Plain Jane meter that's bordered by a bottle of liquor. If your health is running low, take a swig and get back into tiptop shape. It's a little cheesy, but this is a Western. Everyone knows that, in Westerns, whiskey is the next best thing to a Phoenix Down.
Gun switching is handled by one button, your molotov cocktails are assigned to another, and then you also have a knife at your disposal. Close-quarters hit detection can be a little touch and go at times, but long range is where you want to be, anyway. If you're up close, you can't use the swank Quickdraw.
You've seen Quickdraw, or at least something like it, in everything from The Matrix to Bloodrayne. It is more or less similar to bullet time, though Gun handles it very well. As in every other post-Matrix video game, the entire world drops into slow motion when you activate the feature. However, in Gun, your view zooms into first person mode and you draw your six shooter (or sometimes six shooters!). From there, you've got a time limit, plenty of ammo, and incredible accuracy. Trick shots become the name of the game at that point, as you become good enough to shoot arrows out of the sky and empty your gun in the time it takes an enemy to fire one shot. Do you have three enemies rushing you down via a tight corridor? Slip into Quickdraw and send six shots their way. They'll be dead before they hit the ground. You can build the meter by simply doing well in the game, taking out your enemies, and looking good while doing it.
Gun is a sandbox-style game. If this were made by RockStar, you could call it Grand Theft Auto: Dodge City. There are the missions which further the plot, which are perfectly fine and dandy, and side missions that line your pockets so you can buy more guns, health, upgrade your weapons, or get you special bonuses. You're free to complete the game at your own pace, which is always a good thing. Otherwise, Gun would've been a linear and way-too-short game that just didn't have enough meat on its bones. Instead, you're treated to neat side missions that involve doing things like the Pony Express.
Gun is a neat little package. You're treated to an interesting plot, fun, sandbox-style gameplay, and atmosphere thick enough to choke a horse. It's honestly one of the most fun titles out there, and occasionally so over-the-top as to be downright hilarious. Gun fighting on horseback is fun, too, and is reason enough to give Gun a try. It nails the Deadwood-style Western pretty well, and isn't the kind of game to pull its punches. It's big, it's gory, it's violent, and it's fun. Go get it.