Definitely “Go West” young man.
Gun Showdown is more than just a portable, hand-me-down version of last year’s Gun for the PS2. It’s been revamped, reloaded and released to satisfy your lust for the Wild West.
Pardon the expression, but Gun Showdown is definitely a notch above your average action adventure game. It’s not unbelievably good but it is good. There are some inherent problems with the controls of the PSP and the odd little glitch here and there but overall the presentation is solid. There is some shooting but this game is not just a shooter. It’s an open-ended adventure game where you can do virtually anything you please. Gone is the horse-jacking which made the original a little too close to GTA for comfort, although comparisons are rightly to be expected. The story is done with taste, and perhaps a little bit of haste, but it’s a well told tale that manages to sidestep major Western clichés as though they were hot, wet, horse turds on a white kitchen floor.
Gun Showdown’s story is a tale filled with mystery, passion, betrayal and revenge. Featuring a cast of characters, the story unravels swiftly, maybe too swiftly which often makes it difficult to keep track of the developing situations. It’s told thorough cutscenes as well as in-game cinematics so that you feel totally immersed in the story as opposed to getting a report at the end or beginning of every mission. It’s also a slightly different story than was told with the original game. Colton White is still the young hero of the story. After a tragic mishap with his father while on a hunting trip, Colton manages to escape with his life and heads to Dodge City where he begins to search for clues and uncovers a conspiracy that involves his old man, played by Kris Kristofferson, no less. The writing is good and the acting is even better. There are no John Wayne-isms in this game, but there is a good deal of cussing. Maybe not Deadwood-style dialog but certainly enough poignant words to make your parent’s wonder, “What the hell kind of games are they selling to kids these days?” Keep in mind this is a Mature rated game. Remember, it’s all right to kill in videogames, it’s just not acceptable to utter words such as $#!+ or %$#*!
In the Story mode you will have a variety of missions and side-missions to perform, not in any particular order. You are free. There are two main towns that you will move to and from, separated by the Wild West Wilderness where not a lot seems to happen. The environments are nicely rendered and believable but they are somewhat sparse of population. Aside from the odd background character the only people that you run into are enemies or the characters that further the plot. At least there are not a lot of random battles like you would encounter in a RPG. Missions include upholding the law as either a sheriff or marshal in one of the towns. You can track down criminals as a bounty hunter or make some deliveries through some dangerous areas. You can even sit down to a poker game of Texas Hold ‘Em in the hopes of winning some money.
Guns are as important in the Old West as a beer and a plate of fire-cooked beans. Pistols, shotguns and rifles are at your disposal in addition to other weapons such as Molotov cocktails and dynamite. The dual analog sticks of the PS2 controller made the character easier to control. With the PSP you’ll have to use the nub and the four face buttons to move Colton around as well as aim his weapons. Fortunately there is an auto-lock for the weapons and you can map the buttons to any face buttons that feel comfortable. It never becomes as comfortable as the PS2 controls, but it’s manageable.
Colton uses his horse to get around. Occasionally you’ll trigger a random event but you’re pretty much safe until you instigate something or accept a mission. Often when you get into a gunfight you’ll find yourself outnumbered and outgunned. That’s when you can hit the Quick Draw button which triggers a slow motion, Bullet Time, effect in which the enemies slow down while you remain at your regular speed. This gives you an opportunity to shoot them down and dodge bullets before things return to normal. The gameplay isn’t difficult but as I mentioned, it’s not made any easier by the control system. Thankfully the developers recognize that as a portable game the ability to save your progress at anytime is a most welcome feature.
The Quickplay mode is a tiered collection of mini-games that you have to unlock by completing them in sequence. These are basic shooting gallery-style games that can be played during any particular lull in your life. If you’ve got more time, and a few friends, the ad-hock multi-player modes will accommodate up to six players. Bot will fill in if you can’t find enough human players, and they do a find job. The modes include standard Deathmatch, a variation of Last Man Standing and even a version of Texas Hold ‘Em.
Gun Showdown portrays the Wild Frontier with a realism that was missed in those old Spaghetti Westerns of the 60s and 70s. It’s filled with adult themes and language and of course a heaping helping of that Wild West violence. It’s a good time and one that you might want to relive even if you’ve played the PS2 version. This one has enough new features to keep you interested and motivated. Even if you don’t intend to make much use of the multi-player modes, make a date to meet Gun Showdown at dawn…and bring your six gun.