Gun Showdown First Look
Neversoft's rootin'-tootin' action adventure is coming to the PSP courtesy of developer Rebellion. We check out the new port.
Last year, the Tony Hawk masterminds at Neversoft came up with the unconventional idea of applying the Grand Theft Auto-style free-roaming gameplay model to the Wild West setting, which in gaming is seen rarely enough in any form. The result was Gun, the story of beleaguered six-gun Colton White and his quest for vengeance against his father's killers. The game featured a solid foundation but was a little thin on content and replay value, and now developer Rebellion is looking to address that concern with Gun Showdown, a new port of Gun for the PlayStation Portable. We got to take a look at an unfinished version of Gun Showdown to see how it's shaping up and to find out what sorts of goodies will be available beyond the scope of the original game.
To begin with, this is the same single-player game you may have played on one of several consoles last year. Well, it's actually a good bit more than that, but the point is that Gun Showdown does contain all of the original content--environments, missions, voice acting, and so on--that formed the centerpiece of the original Gun. The single-player portion has been enhanced with five new missions that were actually cut from the original version of the game, and since the voice-over had already been recorded and the missions plotted out, they were seamlessly reintegrated into the storyline to further flesh out Colton's vengeful journey.
None of the main gameplay in Gun has been lost or compromised in Showdown, according to Activision. The game is still free roaming and loading time is said to be at a reasonable minimum by PSP standards. The controls have been adapted slightly, such that the face buttons on the PSP now control the camera angle, which is similar to the method used by Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (a scheme we found to be eminently playable). A slight aiming assist has been added, which should be helpful given the relative imprecision of the PSP's control stick. Finally, a weapon toggle has been added to the D pad for quick switching. Aside from these minor tweaks, Showdown ought to play similarly to its console counterparts.
At any rate, the new mission we saw had Colton heading off to a mountain stronghold to take out the villain Kragen to curry favor with Hoodoo Brown, the mayor of Empire City. These missions will be used to introduce some of Gun Showdown's weapons in the single-player game; in this mission, Colton was able to throw dynamite to take out Kragen and his henchmen. Showdown will also offer two new weapons--throwing knives and a primitive form of land mines--to the mix. A couple of other small gameplay tweaks have also been made to the story mode. Primarily, the designers wanted to involve your horse more directly in the adventure, so you'll now have a horse-whistle item that you can use to summon your mount directly to you, rather than being forced to go out and look for him all the time.
In addition to the main plot-driven game, Gun Showdown will feature six minigames that you can fire up in a few seconds when you just need to shoot some stuff during that 10-minute bus ride. We got to see the Hold the Fort game, which had the player manning a mounted cannon at the top of a hill and then tasked with shooting off advancing outlaws who were approaching from below. Another game, called Suppress the Outlaws, was a more traditional first-person action game set in a Wild West town, where the player had to kill nearby enemies (which was worth one point) or grab them and lead them back to a base circle to "arrest" them (which was worth 10 points). The big catch here was that while you're dragging a guy around, other enemies will be able to shoot him while they try to hit you. Both of these games, as well as the yet-to-be-revealed remaining four, will track your high score, so you can try to beat your best when the mood strikes.
Finally, Showdown will have an arguably important mode that the original Gun lacked: multiplayer. Five multiplayer maps will be included, drawn from the original game but with some multiplayer-specific elements, such as sniping points, added in. Up to six players will be able to compete in ad hoc mode, and each player will default to a different character model on your system, so you'll always have a good idea who you're shooting. Another mode called Golden Cross, which we didn't get to see but which is said to be similar to capture the flag, will also be available. Finally, there will be a multiplayer poker game available, too, in case you don't happen to have a deck of cards with you.
So far, Gun Showdown is looking like a good, solid port of the original game, and more games from the underrepresented setting of the American Wild West are always a welcome sight. Aside from a slight drop in frame rate and some less-complex geometry, it looks like Rebellion has done a good job on the technical end, as it's managed to essentially re-create Gun in its entirety on the small screen. Hopefully, all the extra content that's being added to the game will give Showdown some extra longevity. We'll find out how the final product shapes up when it ships in October, so keep your eyes peeled.
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