GUN: THE SHOWDOWN / Activision / Sony PSP
 
 
Gun is something like an early progenitor of Red Dead Redemption; a semi-open-world Western with a whole lotta gunplay. It's very interesting, which makes it all the more a shame that the gameplay on PSP is absolute dogshit.

The game also came out on the PS2, Xbox and PC, and I'd imagine those "older brother" versions are better simply due to having another analog stick to work with. On the PSP, the game has to hobble along using the Metal Gear Portable system of moving with the one analog stick and using the 4 face buttons to adjust your view as you move. Adjusting it very slowly, not nearly fast enough to keep up with waves of gunfighters jumping you out of nowhere.

This is also one of those games where, thanks again to the controls, the mandatory scripted "training missions" you get forced through at the very beginning are actually harder than the actual game. You start out in the forest learning the basics by hunting animals and fighting off some lethargic wolves, which is alright. This lesson caps off by fighting a grizzly who apparently got into someone's crystal meth stash, and whom you have to keep off an injured escortee, which is a little more annoying but still not at ragequit levels just yet. The next forced scenario is a battle on a steamboat that's getting invaded by The Lost Boys or something. This is kind of bullshit considering that you've never yet faced enemies that fire back, but suddenly you're getting ganked by waves that spawn in all around you constantly. This is a little more bullshit than the bear, but still doable thanks solely to magical ammo and whiskey (which restores your health in this game) liberally scattered about everywhere. The part where I almost ragequit before even getting started is where you have to learn how to ride a horse by horse-racing some horny prospector, with an auto-fail and restart if you lose. The guy rides the race robotically perfect, too much so for just starting to learn the controls, and for how janky and annoying it is to try to steer the horse with the analog nub.
 


The game didn't take all that long to make me regret even bothering, though. The story and characters are actually at least somewhat interesting, but Dat Shit Play Control just keeps rearing its head and dragging everything down. The "open world" is also rendered a bit less meaningful when there's so little to do; there's hardly anybody in towns and barely any reason to visit them except to buy guns. I didn't make it to the end of story mode, but by all reports it's criminally short as well. And the story mode missions just basically repeat the same patterns established in the first 20 minutes -- shit gunplay and shit horse riding over and over.

This port supposedly adds new missions and some more side stuff you can do; I don't know the fine details, but whatever it adds can't possibly make up for how shit the PSP control scheme is and how undoubtedly better this must play with a real gamepad on a more powerful system. This port is typical of Activision's shitty work in bringing good franchises to handhelds and ruining them there with sloppy, halfassed effort. I'm interested in checking out one of the "big brother" versions of this game at some point, but fuck this PSP port, it's unplayable garbage.
 
 
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