PC Game -- Gun

Neversoft Entertainment pulled out all the stops for this heavyweight title, with screenwriting talent from Randall Jahnson, and a swathe of big-name vocal artists from Kris Kristofferson to Lance Henrikson. The end result is a highly cinematic affair - though the short gameplay may leave some gamers hungry for more.

The easiest way to describe GUN (I don't know why it's in capitals) is Grand Theft Auto on horseback. You play the part of Colton White, a Wild West sharpshooter who makes a living by hunting game for the paddle steamers that ply the big rivers. Your father is killed in an ambush led by the menacing Reverend Reed and his renegades, leading you on a quest for revenge as you (and your enemies) try to track down a mysterious artefact that was in your father's care.

In addition to the storyline, GUN provides you with side missions that you can use to build up your stats and earn some cash. These include Pony Express, Ranch Hand, Hunter and Lawman tasks, with each contributing to your character's overall abilities to shoot, ride and fight - which can help you through some of the tougher story sections. The money you earn (or find in the form of gold nuggets) can be spent on weapon upgrades which can be purchased from the traders at each main settlement.

Once you get the hang of the controls, gameplay is a lot of fun, and you can employ the increasingly popular "bullet time" mode to help you out of a tight spot. Audio is excellent, with high-level vocal talent and sweeping scores that match the mood extremely well. Graphically, however, the game feels a little sparse and unfinished in places (and the PC version seems to share the low-quality textures of the console versions). The cinematics are well thought out and keep the flow and pace of the story going, but talking with minor characters uses a generic motion capture that rarely matches up with the current dialogue.

Compared to games like GTA: Vice City, GUN is very short, and while this makes the story progression quite pacey, you may feel a little short-changed come the final stage - even completing the side missions only extends the gameplay by a few hours. But it's an entertaining ride while it lasts; gunplay is fast and furious, horse riding is smooth and well-animated, and the story is a classic (if predictable) tale of lawlessness and violence in the Wild West.

Screenshot 1 is available here. Screenshot 2 is available here.
Visuals: Not as rich as other PC titles; motion capture sometimes jars, but otherwise smooth and well animated.
Audio: Excellent voice acting and a score that ranges from Native American tribal to sweeping orchestral.
Gameplay: Not the Western game that we've all been waiting for; probably better suited to console platforms.
Score: 31/2 Stars
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft Entertainment
URL: www.activision.com
Price: $89.95

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Laurence Grayson

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