Resident Evil Zero
By: Tristan Jones on March 31, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
 
Credits
Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
Also available on: PS2, XBox, XBox360, PC
Developer: NeverSoft Entertainment
Year: 2005 OFLC
Rating: MA 15+
Why can't more Westerns be as good as Gun? If they were all like this then Westerns wouldn't get the eye-roll response they seem to from so many people these days. You get blood, sex, in your face violence, non-stop action, a bad-arse villain and an even badder protagonist! Indians, explosions, dames, lynchings, awesome horse-back battles and chases, and an all-star cast, all that rolled into one hell of a story. Yessirree!

Gun, developed by the team behind the long running Tony Hawk games, is a fantastically well designed game that has gamers play as Colton White, a rootless outlaw who becomes involved in a bloody feud between a group of Native Americans and rebellious cowboys, and the greedy industrialist Thomas Magruder. It plays out in a similar fashion to the later Tony Hawk games in that you are given a world in which to roam freely, and perform tasks to improve statistics, while also having a core – and extremely well developed – story mode that will see you to the end of the game. Think of it as Grand Theft Auto set in the Old West, only better!

Now the version I played through was the GameCube version (being my machine of choice), but having seen and played all other versions I can safely say that with the exception of the Xbox 360, each version is pretty much on par with the other in terms of graphics and gameplay, through the GameCube and PlayStation feel more intuitive in terms of control mechanics and the GameCube has the faster loading times. I suppose it will really come down to which machine you are most comfortable with playing, it simply came down to the fact that the button layout for the GameCube felt more comfortable in tighter situations (and trust me, there are plenty), though I'm sure someone who's more familiar with their particular machine will champion their own. The 360 version clearly has the graphical improvements, though it's definitely not testing the machine's capacity for mind blowing realism.

The game's play mechanics are a little strange to begin with, and it takes about an hour or so of playing to become completely accustomed to it. Though essentially being a free roaming, hack-slash-shoot title ala Grand Theft Auto and it's many wannabe clones, the game controls more like a first person shooter. It's a little odd at first, employing the dual stick control system (left hand for movement, right for looking and turning), and thus results in a static camera system (unless you use the 'look' stick), which can be a little off putting when you don't have a gun out and are just walking around. Once you have your head around this first little obstacle, you can pretty much do anything, and this camera system can be used to the player's benefit in a number of situations.

There was only one flaw I could pick up on with the controls, that being the weapon change option, which would often mean in the heat of a boss battle or intense gun fight, I'd find myself having to stop, stand still and hold down one button and then use the right analogue stick to switch through the options. Often before I got to the weapon I was after, I'd be lying in a pool of blood, riddled with bullets.

The combat system, though tainted only by the 'quick-change' weapon scheme, is pretty much perfect. The hand to hand combat plays out like a dream and is as bloody as one can imagine. It's one of those instances where you can take on five or six opponents and still come out on top. The melees are bloodthirsty and savage, and actually a lot of fun once you start collecting better melee weapons. The firearms combat is equally as impressive and can actually be broken into three separate modes, depending on the situation you're facing. You can simply pull out the weapon in the third person view for some down and dirty 'let's put some holes in whatever moves without really aiming" fun, which often works a treat in a number of moments through the game, you can also switch to first person for some more precision aiming and old school shooter stylings, but on top of that you can also enter quick-draw mode, in which you slow down time, similar to the Prince of Persia titles or The Matrix's 'bullet time' system. The quick-draw is often a lifesaver, particularly against certain bosses or moments where you find yourself overwhelmed with enemies.

Finally, what good Western would be complete without some old fashioned horse back action sequences? The horseback moments of Gun are essentially the same as the cars in GTA, only the horse is a far more articulate weapon. On horseback, you can do all the same things you could on foot (attack with melee weapons, shoot, go into quick-draw mode, etc.) only the horse becomes an extension of these powers, boosting your health and attacking power, letting you charge, trample and kick out. The actual horse models and animation are flawless, and once you're on horseback, the game's fun factor jumps to that of DarkWatch's and Sunset Riders' horseback sequences.

Graphically, the game is fantastic (though falling somewhat short on the 360), all the textures are close to photo realism and really push the resolution capabilities of each console. The character models are all animated pretty much to perfection, and you also get what is probably the best lip synching any game could want.

Speaking of voices, Gun brings with it an all star cast, each suiting their respected characters to a tee. Thomas Jane (The Punisher) as Colton White, Kris Kristofferson as his father, along with Lance Henrikson as Magruder, Brad Dourif (once again working to perfection) as the mad Reverend Josiah Reed and Ron Perlman at his best as Mayor Hoodoo Brown. Also along for the ride are Tom Skerritt (Alien), John Getz (The Fly) and voice over veterans Kath Soucie (too many to list) and Dave Wittenberg.

The game's only real drawback is the fact that it's about as short as my review for Castlevania. Sure you get all the side missions to do, but you can only do so many before you've maxed out your adjustable statistics and have to continue on with the story. It doesn't feel short at first, thanks largely to such a well constructed story, but once all is said and done and the game is finished, you do find yourself thirsty for more and a bit disappointed that it's all over. It doesn't bother me as much being a GameCube owner, as Gun only costs $50 on that particular console, but if I were to own it on either the PlayStation or X-Box (or worse still, the 360), I'd feel a little ripped off at having paid full price. If you see it cheap on any of the other systems it's definitely worth the money, but there are most certainly other titles that offer a more extensive experience at that price for said consoles.

As I said, if more Western's were like Gun, Western's would be the dominant genre. Fantastic story, fantastic voice acting, incredibly fun game (if a little short), all wrapped up in a very tight and polished package make Gun one of the best games I've played in a long time.
Movie Score
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