First impressions don't always lead to good things, like this busted, Western-themed disaster.

User Rating: 3.5 | Western Outlaw: Wanted Dead or Alive PC
There's only a minimal amount of things that came out pretty decent from this whole ordeal. Jarhead Games' Western Outlaw: Dead or Alive setting and music really gives the game its Old Western feel, and its story about a lone-wanderer-turned-sheriff even has a nice, Clint Eastwood-y ring to it. When looking at the game from a distance, you can kind of create that vivid, 'wild west' imagination that is probably chock-full of crazy shootouts, heated showdowns with the good, the bad and the ugly, and some occasional Mexican standoffs thrown here and there--wait…that last part's not right. But once you sit down and play it, everything optimistic you've thought about this game beforehand immediately goes down the drain. Western Outlaw suffers greatly from its busted graphics, extremely brainless AI, very short campaign, and generic game play that is just plain terrible. If anything else, just avoid this game entirely.

I did say earlier that Western Outlaw's story has a nice ring to it, didn't I? Well, going into the game's campaign, that thought just falls apart fairly quickly. The game's story is basically about this lone, nameless wanderer who witnesses a kidnapping in a train he is on. When he goes on a daring rescue for a seemingly important damsel, he gets involved with something much bigger than just a mere kidnapping. The lone wanderer crosses paths with a malevolent landlord who wants all the land to himself. As soon as he goes into town, he gets framed for a heinous crime he was not involved with, and now everyone wants him dead. So that's about the gist of it, and you have to play through 10 different missions in the game to shoot your way through to clear your name, deal with villains, and rescue the girl in the process.

Missions vary from fighting through a train, to shooting your way through an abandoned mine. But that's about what you can do for 'fun' in Western Outlaw. There's not much variety in the game play, and you can just blast your way through the missions at a break-neck pace. So the leaning mechanic featured here pretty much seems useless, but if you want to create some additional enjoyment, be my guest. Don't worry too much about taking damage, because there's plenty of health packs lying around everywhere.

So how is Western Outlaw's difficulty level? It's not terrifyingly challenging, and can be a cakewalk in many occasions. First of all I just want to point out that the enemies in this game are just oh-so-stupid. I cannot stress that enough. Fighting bandits through this game is so laughable it gets to a point that it's not even an enjoyable sight to see. You'll see enemies lean over and shoot, even out on wide open fields; that will eventually become an everyday thing in this game. And speaking of shooting, enemies are just terrible shots. Play through the game in the hardest difficulty level and they will still miss a great amount of shots. It's like the game itself is missing on purpose, giving the player all the chances they need to blitz though the game, because it knows it's terrible in many ways possible. Though that is a ridiculous thought, for me it kind of feels that way. Thankfully the game is short, taking up about 2-3 hours. After that, Western Outlaw doesn't really offer much beyond that point.

Terrible, busted graphics basically fill this game in its entirety. Blocky, seemingly unfinished character models aren't exactly a charming spectacle, and environmental background textures are pretty much tasteless and almost devoid of any meaningful detail. Production value is so bad, as I could not even tell if one is a machine gun or cannon. Characters don't even look like they're holding on to anything. It's almost like they have these awesome psychic powers that they don't need reins to control their horses or need triggers to make their bullets come out of their guns. Western Outlaw's visual presentation is appalling overall, making it look like there wasn't much effort put into the game, which pretty sad to think about.

Some credit actually goes to the game's audio presentation. Although the game's music is fair overall, the sound effects are actually pretty decent. Firing various weapons sound believable enough to be classified as satisfactory. But other than that, enemy voices don't have much variety, and their dull one-liners can get old fast.

Western Outlaw does have a nice ring to it, but it's not worth bothering with in the long run. The variety of guns and acceptable sound effects are actually the good points this game has, and everything else the game has to offer is either minimal or embarrassing to say the least. This game just isn't suitable for many people, except for those hardcore, first-person shooter enthusiasts who could care less about anything but just a good enough reason to shoot people. At least there is something I learned after all this; first impressions don't always lead to good things, so it's probably something people should look at more carefully. If you've got different opinions, go ahead and try this game out. But don't say I didn't warn you.