Gun & Why It's Still One Of My Favourite Games Ever
It was 2005, I was a young kind who loved video games but was even more obsessed with Westerns. I adored the genre and watched just about everything I could get my hands on. From classics such as 'The Good the Bad and the Ugly', 'A Few Dollars More' and 'Once Upon A Time In the West' to modern greats like 'Unforgiven' and 'Tombstone', I was entrenched in spurs, holsters and saloon shoot-outs. I used to tape movies off the television and watch them when I got home from school on the VCR in my bedroom, enamoured with the way giants of the genre like Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson held themselves in such unforgiving times. So when the Neversoft/Activision Revisionist Western themed 'Gun' hit store shelves I was one of the very first to pick it up.
A year earlier I had played Rockstars 'Red Dead Revolver' a game that had it's merits and I enjoyed because of my passion for all things western but a game I wasn't particularity enamoured with, there was something about it that didn't quite sit with me and I'm not going to pretend to remember what that reason was, at the time I wasn't dissecting such feelings and was already hitting the eject button to play Star Wars Battlefront. So a year later when I popped 2005's 'Gun' into the tray and started along the epic exploits of Colton "Cole" White, voiced wonderfully by Thomas Jane (perfect casting), I was hooked. This was it. This was my jam.
'Gun' was everything I wanted a western game to be, an open world full of colourful characters, side missions and and a main quest that had me eyeballs to screen from start to finish. I loved it. It was perfect. Mind you, I'm not saying it was technically a perfect game, it had it's faults, the world being a little too small springing to mind the most, but for me, a huge fan of the genre, it was everything I needed. I could start off my day playing cards in the Doge City saloon, then stealing a horse and riding across the country side, shooting buffalo, gunning down bandits, hiding from Indians and then onto an epic showdown with one of the games many great bosses. It was a wonderful experience that myself and a particular friend of mine enjoyed immensely. The memories of our favourite films still lingering in the backs of our minds as we hunted down precious bounties for some of the world most notorious miscreants.
The best thing about the game was undoubtedly the story. It was truly gripping and I know it worked so well because my memory has since combined the gameplay and the cut scenes into one of the same, creating a truly flowing tale of money, guns, trains and girls.
The story starts off in 1880 when Colt and his father Ned are hunting game alongside a river in a beautiful countryside location. Things turn sour however when Ned is killed in an attack on a riverboat that the two are travelling on not long after. It was a sad moment and one that I remember vividly to this day, just as clear as any moment from the genres rich cinematic history. It becomes a truly sprawling tale with an adult Colt seeking revenge on the men that ruined his life. Events see Cole get himself in all kinds of sticky situations, from botched arrests during his time as a sheriff, a jail sentence, a train robbery and a particularly fun sequence of the game teaming up with the Apaches in order to take down a monstrous antagonist.
The story is gripping and is accentuated by some truly wonderful and unforgettable characters, my favourite being Hoodoo Brown who provided my favourite moment of the game and probably one the most memorable gaming moments of my childhood. After a big shoot-out in Brown's stronghold, Cole rescues his friend, shoots Hoodoo which then results in the corrupt mayor yelling "I'm Hoodoo Brown!" before dying and falling of the balcony to the ground below. It was truly great stuff, becoming something that permeated the rest of my time playing the game and has stayed in my thoughts ever since. The game climaxes with an incredible sequence in the arch villains desert gold mine, accumulating with a frustratingly difficult final boss fight, one that was pretty simple in it's mechanics but mighty tricky to pull off without being exploded by dynamite.
This game has been somewhat forgotten by time but 'Gun' was undoubtedly fantastic, a truly memorable experience for me as a boy and one that I look back upon fondly. There are of course better games in the grand scheme of things, games with prettier graphics, longer stories, more guns, more side missions etc but very few of them achieved what 'Gun' did for me, which was an immersive, colourful and blood soaked venture into one of my favourite moments in history. You won't catch many today talking about Gamespy's 'Xbox 360 Action Game of the Year' but it's one that will forever live in my memory. Cole, Doge City, I miss you terribly.
© 2015 Samuel Brace