At its recent press event in Las Vegas, Capcom showed off a build of its Western-themed third-person shooter Red Dead Revolver. The PlayStation 2 game has been polished a bit since the last time we saw it, and it boasts some interesting gameplay, blending a few different elements together into an intriguing, atmospheric package.
Red Dead Revolver's story follows the main character Red's battle against evildoers in the Old West. Red's motivation for his crusade against evil? Revenge, pure and simple. Apparently, being the lone survivor of a desperado attack on his family has left Red with quite the thirst for vengeance. Red is aided in his quest by skills he learned from the Native American man who raised him following the family massacre. The game's tutorial mode actually makes use of that plot point and puts you in control of a young Red. Your foster father walks you through the ins and outs of the game's control in the extended flashback sequence, which helps flesh out the game's story and teach you the ropes.
The graphics in Red Dead Revolver have a stylized and slightly faded look to them, and they appear to be doing a solid job of serving the game's premise. You'll find such traditional Old West locations as a frontier town, a ghost town, an old fort, and an abandoned mine. The character animation is coming together quite well, as 100 different character animations are being used to give the characters quite a bit of personality.
The game's music is being handled by renowned Italian composer Ennio Morricone, whose work on classic spaghetti Westerns such as A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ensures that the soundtrack will capture the feel of the genre.
As far as gameplay goes, the development team has continued to tweak Red Dead Revolver in order to find the proper feel. The game's targeting system gives you two shooting options. Once you've targeted an enemy, you'll of course be able to shoot him or her. However, it's also possible to fire at specific points on the enemy's body by using the left analog stick to move your targeting reticle anywhere on the enemy once you've locked on to him or her. Besides your standard shot, you'll also have the option to perform a special rapid-fire attack move that doles out a respectable amount of punishment. We were pleased to hear that once you've defeated a boss, you'll gain access to a special attack unique to that boss, much like earning boss attacks in the Mega Man games. In a pleasing bit of eccentricity, the special attacks you earn seem to get progressively more preposterous as you go through the game. While you'll initially receive fairly normal attacks such as a ricochet shot that will bounce off objects before striking a target, you'll also apparently get far stranger ones. A buffalo attack calls on a stampede of beasts to attack your foes, while a cannon attack summons cannon fire from a distant artillery unit to dole out some punishment. At the moment, it sounds as though there's going to be some limitation on the number of boss attacks you'll be able to use when playing, meaning you may be allowed to equip only one or two specific moves on Red.
As far as firepower goes, it sounds as if Red will be armed with the finest weapons the Old West has to offer. You'll use pistols, shotguns, whips, and dynamite, and you'll be able to find power-up items as well. There also seems to be some variety being added to the gameplay, as you'll ride horses and be challenged by stealth missions on your road to justice. Another interesting gameplay element that was discussed was the role of NPCs in the game. Apparently, you'll be able to save or spare the lives of different characters, who may join you in your quest for a time. The game will also offer a multiplayer deathmatch mode for up to four players.
At the moment, Red Dead Revolver looks pretty promising. While there are some camera and control issues we'd like to see tightened up, the game is definitely looking much better than it did the last time we saw it. We're especially curious to see what Capcom does with the game's tone, considering the different boss attacks and the spaghetti Western influences behind it. Red Dead Revolver is slated for release in the US sometime in 2003. We'll bring you more on the game as it becomes available.