Monday, May 8, 2017

This Town Ain't Big Enough Fer the Two of Us: Gun vs Red Dead Revolver!

At the height of its popularity Red Dead Redemption was a household name. The idea of mixing GTA and the Wild West was a great idea, but had it been done before Red Dead Redemption? Well, not as well as Redemption, but to a much lesser extent it was attempted at least twice, with Red Dead Revolver and Gun.

Back when Redemption was still on the tongues, minds and consoles of video game fans, I was busy trying to find a copy of Red Dead Revolver. When I did find a copy I was fully expecting to see a GTA San Andreas style Western game; I mean for fuck sake when Red Dead Revolver came out Rockstar already had GTA 3 and Vice City under their belts, with San Andreas just around the corner.

The elation I felt for having a copy of what I thought was going to be an open world thrill ride through the wild west was quickly and painfully dashed, slashed and left out in the sun to rot. With Revolver being cut up into chapters I quickly realized that in the year 2006 (when I bought the game), I had played NES games that were more open world than this game. It was nothing more than mini games setup as missions/chapters, all themed the same and mashed together in some form of coherency.

I gave it a good go, hoping that at some point the game would open up and I would be free to decide whether I was a law abiding citizen, or become a legendary outlaw of the old west. Soon it became painfully obvious that no matter how far I progressed through the game, the only freedom I had was roaming through one town, choosing a mission and being placed within that mission until I succeeded, only to be placed right back into the town to pick another mission. Disappointed I eventually gave up on the game and put it back on the shelf, in hopes it would disappear.

Years went by and I still didn't have Red Dead Redemption, but I was still on the hunt for an Xbox era equivalent. This is when Gun was brought to my attention. I was familiar with the box art and the name, but I hadn't the slightest clue what the game was. After watching a few Let's Plays and reading some reviews, my childlike wonderment was renewed! Gun was the game that was going to send me into the wild, gun-toting west and allow me to decide whether or not I was going to be a law abiding citizen, or a lawless madman with a lust for killing.

For the first few missions of Gun I was sorely disappointed, yet again. The game opens up with the main character and who we assumed to be his father hunting to earn their survival. Suddenly things take a turn for the worse and the game throws you into a mission. Once that mission is over it throws you back into the game, all of which has been a tiny little map. It all felt too much like Red Dead Revolver so far, and I was quickly growing impatient.

Persevering along through a few more missions and I was allowed to ride a horse into a new town. Now this felt like the game was opening up, but still the map wasn't very big, it still felt very small and mission based. Eventually I reached another town, where the whole map was unlocked, after a handful more missions. It's not the Red Dead Redemption feel I was looking for, but this was leaps and bounds more freedom than Revolver ever afforded.

After each mission you are given a screen that tells you what upgrades you've gotten, which still feels too mission driven, but you're, essentially, dropped right back where you were before the mission started, making it feel less like the game is picking you up and dropping you off everywhere you go. Once I got past the painful first few missions of Gun, it truly opened up and made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted. Sure, it's still restrictive, it's nowhere near as free or as good as Redemption (even though I've never played it, I know it's better than Gun), but Gun is a really good western style game that I feel earns the badge of open world game.

Gun didn't exceed my expectations, but it sure as hell beats Red Dead Revolver out of the water. The end boss fight is quite frustrating if you walk into it without being properly prepared, but the overall game is fun. Even after you complete the main story missions there are a handful of things to do, not many but there are some. If this was a wild western showdown I would fully expect Gun to blow Red Dead Revolver away before it could even draw its pistol. No contest, Gun is the winner.

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