Xbox 360 Review: Gun

Aside from dabbling in a few action titles, Neversoft's developmental history is filled with one name: Tony Hawk. If they need to continue on with the tiring franchise to create another game like Gun, every new version of Tony Hawk is small price to pay. Gun isn't particularly brilliant or original, but it eliminates basic annoyances and features a fantastic story that's worth experiencing.

It's immediately apparent that Gun wasn't cheap. The Hollywood soundtrack contains a great theme to hook the action to the story, and the stunning amount of high-profile actors (Thomas Jane, Kris Kristofferson, Brad Dourif) provides superb voice work to tell the tale. It's a rapidly paced Western storyline, not forced out over a 10-hour period. It sets in right around five hours, not enough to feel stretched or get repetitive.

You'll need to fire off plenty of ammunition to make it through. This third-person open-ended shooter offers a lot of quest outside the story. Side missions will take as long as the main game to fully complete, and they're usually as tense and as enjoyable as the main game. The setting is not a large one, and very few areas of the game world make you feel restricted. You can run on horseback from one end to the other in a few minutes. You won't lose hours of game time to mindless wandering, plus the map offers the player the ability to quickly warp to story points.

While the actual gameplay isn't revolutionary, it's put together in a way that blends it seamlessly with the story. Every scenario seems plausible in this game setting, and cinemas rolls right into action. Targeting is basic, and you shouldn't have a problem. Quick draw is the now obligatory "slow motion" feature, letting you knock down multiple enemies with only a few rounds. It's a system that works in desperate situations, though it ends up being just as fun to work around shots while firing off your own without the assist.

Gun's best aspect is the camera. For whatever reason, you never notice it during gameplay. When you're done, it takes time to sink in. There's not a single point in this game where the camera becomes a problem. You never think of it because it somehow finds its way dead-on where you need it.

This specific version of Gun falters in two areas. The obvious problem is with the graphics, which are in no way suitable for the 360. Repeating textures are horribly abundant, and up close, walls reveal blurry, unconvincing surfaces. It's an obvious port, and a lazy one at that.

Secondly, two control issues become apparent. Switching weapons is clunky, involving a button and the d-pad. In the midst of a firefight where ammo runs dry, switching to a different type of weapon will drain you life since you're defenseless when making the swap. The horse controls are problematic as the run button is mapped to the left bumper. It's uncomfortable use in this manner for this amount of time. You'll spend a lot of game on a horse, and continually pushing the bumper to move the animal faster while keeping them on a path is difficult.

For all of its greatness, it's hard to look at Gun and see a $60 purchase. It's admittedly short, which becomes one of its best assets and biggest disappointments. It's enjoyable enough that a few extra hours couldn't have hurt, but seeing how every nearly action scene pushes the story along, it's acceptable. This is one of Neversoft's best, and as far as 3rd person action titles go, it's hard to imagine one more engrossing than Gun.

(**** out of *****)

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