All good posts start with explosions. FACT.
I rode with a blazing cpu, spurred my mouse and played like the wind. That's right, it's Cowboys! Yee-har! It's been a while since I've tried my hands at a singleplayer FPS, whilst back at home I've been living up multiplayer as much as possible. But this is Cowboys, with sixshooters. How could I pass up the opportunity to go from freeform sandboxing to a on-the-rails-back-to-basics-well-executed-shooter-with-cowboys?
"Olllldddddd Maaaaaannnnn Riiivvvveeerr, that Ohmygodacannonisaimingatus!"
Call of Duty with Cowboys and a frustrating showdown minigame. That, in a snailshell, is it. But it doesn't give credit where credit is due, and doesn't give criticism where criticism is needed. Nor bad sentence structuring where bad sentence structuring is apparent. The setting itself is rather refreshing for all those of us suffering from World War II fatigue, as with it there is introduced weaponry which many will feel unfamiliar with. Plus: Nazis aren't anywhere in sight!
"My name is Bill S. Preston"
Whilst there's none of the crazy fun weapons that futuristic games throw in, it still feels satisfying to get the feel for each of the seven pistols and extra weaponry. Still, I do wish someday somebody makes a FPS/RPG game set during the 1800's about the English Empire, mixing Call of Duty shooting and Fallout 3 exploration with numerous close combat weaponry. But no exploding collars on slaves, as that might be poor taste. Though in this game the whole slave issue is glossed over to the extent that anyone tanner than tea is conspicously absent. Sorry to dissapoint all you Buffalo soldier fans out there.
Not pictured: Slaves.
The game itself doesn't really start to pick up till about 30 minutes to an hour in. You start off fighting in the American Civil War on the side of the...South? We'll just overlook that fact now. Apart from a few missions in the game at the start of each level you get the choice between one of two brothers; Thomas who is in essence a mix of Viggo Mortensen and Christian Bale to the point I thought I was catching the 3:10 to Mount Doom and Ray, a delightful pyschopath. Thomas is meant to be nimble and stealthy, able to reach places Ray cannot and Ray gets Dynamite and the ability to use two pistols at once and kick doors. You can upgrade the arsenal of both at stores located in the middle of levels, though you're not allowed to shoot the owner and take what you fancy. It's a shame, as I do it daily and I thought big bad outlaws would be allowed to rob at least one person.
Why do I think the game begins proper after 30 minutes though? Ok the game up to then - After a brief spat with the North they then desert the Army and fight in their Plantation Home, before leaving and drifting about before ending up in a fogged over town (with a frustrating end coach fight sequence and the hateful duel minigame) that establishes them as bastards. As you might've noticed, the screenshots so far have been somewhat dreary.
Pictured: Cactuses. Racial inequality is rife in the Wild West.
Suddenly I get what I came here for - Sun, shootouts and racist presentations of Native Americans. The aesthetics from there on out is simply astounding, not the best I've seen in a game but very enjoyable all the same. I'm not saying the start of the game is bad, but the locations just didn't entice me; I might as well have been playing Call of Juarez: Gaming in Grey. But on to the gameplay.
As I mentioned earlier, combat is pretty much the same as Call of Duty except for a few little differences. There's a special mode called "Concentration", which when I do it just makes my eyes cross but if you're a videogame character allows you to slow down time so you can shoot multiple people. Thomas' allows up to 6 instant kill shots on anyone in range when you activate it and you have to pull the mouse back and forth to simulate the cocking handle on the revolver or some bullhockey. For Ray's you hover over people to deliver mutliple shots up to 12. Bit gimmicky really, and they add a timer to it running out if you don't use it within 50 seconds of earning it. Man, I just used alot of words to essentially describe a shit feature which I constantly forgot to use throught the entire game.
In 1870, Cowboys discovered the Matrix.
Otherwise there's a strange cover system which almost works, where you stand by it and hope you latch on whereupon you can use the mouse to carefully peek around. When it works it feels natural, rather than edging out using the movement keys you use the mouse to angle yourself around it. When it doesn't work you frustratedly keep trying to find the sweetspot where the game recognises it as cover you're wanting to use. They also claim there's stealth in this game, but I can assure you none of that tom[francis]foolery takes place and instead the plan = shoot, and what can't be shotted you go a different way till there's shootable things.
And lastly, whilst Quick Time Events are gloriously absent there is instead a duelling minigame. I can see the reasoning for it, to give the game that extra cowboy authenticity and break things up a little. Instead it's a painful sequence where you circle each other hovering your hand controlled via the mouse near your holster, waiting for a bell to strike whereupon you have to move really close, click to draw your gun, wait for the bouncing targetting reticule (which you don't control) to hover over your foe before you can click to shoot them. Often the computer is faster than Flash on steroids compared to your clumsy fiddling and it's a big sigh, reaload and pacing around waiting for that bell again. Apart from that minigame sequence, the pace proceeds along amiably. The story is undoubtably cheesy but an interesting tale of greed and betrayal, filled with villains on both sides and an annoying younger brother who constantly preaches throughout the game. *Spoiler alert* I was actually happy when Ray shot him *Spoiler alert*
The hooker mini-game here is great however.
I thorougly enjoyed this cheesy action fest, it provided a solid romp though was not genre defining. Already I want to go back and re-try different weapon setups and play as the other brother (though it doesn't alter the mission at all). Multiplayer is included, but with the lack of support, convoluted way to connect to servers and load time plus small playerbase it's just not worth it. A good game, it's nice to play a shooter which isn't about WWII nor space marines and whilst not thought provoking is adrenaline pumping.
I give it 3.75 Fennings out of a possible 5. As arbitary scoring is all you need to base a game on, clearly.
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